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A flat lay is a photo that is typically shot from above and is used to showcase an arrangement of an item or items, you wish to display. This category of photography has become increasingly popular throughout many personal and professional Instagram accounts. I’m sure you may have witnessed an impromptu flat lay photoshoot at brunch at some point or on Instagram.

Haven’t mastered the flay lay just yet? You’re in luck. Follow our easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating IG-worthy images.

flat lay


Lighting will be your most cherished tool when it comes to creating a captivating flat lay. If you have dull or too much light, you could end up with a blurry or overexposed photo.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, you don’t need a big, expensive flash to capture a great image. The best lighting is actually soft, natural light from outside. However, sometimes you need a little help and that is where softboxes come into play. Shooting early in the morning, or in the afternoon, when the sun is low, will give you the best contrast to display and capture your selected objects.

flat lay


Choosing a background is the fun part! I usually start out with a plain white background, luckily my desk is perfect for a jumping off point. Selecting a background that is too busy can take away from the objects that you are trying to highlight.

A white background shows the true color of the objects you’re trying to capture and allows the image to look crisp.

flat lay

Balance The Objects

If you’re photographing larger items, choose three to four main objects to ensure your image is clean and not overcrowded. Selecting coordinating colors will bring an overall cohesive look that your favorite Instagrammers achieve in their flat lays.

Arrange your items strategically and make sure you leave some negative space to create a balance between all the items. You can also use this negative space to add text if your flat lay is intended for your company’s stock images. I find that our flat lays with more negative space are perfect for Instagram Stories.

flat lay


There are numerous ways to edit a photo. Right before taking your ideal shot, use the exposure feature on your phone. Tap on your screen before you take your picture and a sun icon will appear. Swipe up and down on this icon to control how much light is being captured. This enables you to make the photo brighter or darker before you even snap the photo.

Another method I use to edit photos to keep them consistent with the South Street & Co.’s Instagram gallery, is a program called VSCO. This program enables you to add a preset, so you can copy the edits of a previous photo and apply it to the one you just took. This way, your photos will have the same consistent edits and a more visually pleasing Instagram grid.

If you are curious what else your iPhone can do to help your photography, watch our quick tip video on the 4 Tricks About Your iPhone Camera.

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