The topic we get asked about more than anything else, is how we shoot perfect flatlay style branding images for Instagram. They’ve kind of become our signature, and they are definitely our most regrammed images. Some of our favorites include: this one, this one, and this one. Companies like Anthropologie, Darling Magazine, and Target have shared our flatlay images and they’ve definitely been a large contributor to our growth.
So here is the big secret – perfect flatlay images aren’t as challenging or as scary as they feel when you begin. You can shoot dozens of images from a single shoot setup that will last you a couple months worth of content. Whether you’re a travel blogger or a PR team, an interior designer or a beauty brand – the perfect flatlay can be a strong representation of your brand and an Instagram hit.
Below, we’ve compiled a detailed list of steps to perfect your props and styling, to elevate your brand photography and master the perfect flatlay. (Shoutout to Madeline Harper for the photos, because it’s hard to shoot a flaylat on your phone while getting yourself in the shot.)
Before you begin -plan what you’re hoping to accomplish by following these steps to prepare for your brand photoshoot.
Start by prop shopping around your house. Look in rooms beyond your office for items that represent the feel of your brand. If you’re a more feminine brand, think about cosmetics or jewelry;. If your brand has a more boho vibe, bring in leather accessories and natural elements. If you’re a real estate broker, think about household and decór items that complement your brand.
What is key here? Keep your palette to neutral with pops of your brand colors. This is key to keep a cohesive look long term, AND to help ensure regramability. Why? Because your brand colors are probably not Anthropologie’s colors. Or West Elm’s colors. So if you want those large accounts to share your content, make sure to keep your palette neutral enough that they will.
How many items will you need? Twice as many as you think. You’ll want to make the most out of the time you spend shooting, so by switching out your props and rearranging them, you’ll have many different images to chose from.
This is where I go to my favorite stores to fill in with additional items. For instance, we don’t actually have much pink in our house (or my wardrobe), so we select a few key items to add a little color pop. I focus on adding texture, a little depth (so some taller objects, some shorter objects), some sheen, and size variation.
(you can see above the HUGE mess we make while shooting, but you can also see the variety of items we collect for the shoot.)
Madewell for jewels, bandanas, keychains and sunnies
Anthro for candles, all beauty products, dishes and office supplies
Etsy for one-of-a-kind elements like small prints or ceramics
Target for everything, because, Target
Container Store for office supplies
Central Market for sweets in pretty packaging, flowers and perishables like citrus
West Elm for serve ware
CB2 for sculptural pieces and decór
Lack of Colour for hats
Scoot a table up to the brightest window in your house. For us- that’s actually my desk in our office (but we shot these at Erin’s house because we needed more space to fit all three of us in. And she’s the nicest.) Generally, your windows that face South or East will be your brightest options. Make sure there is nothing causing shadows on your workspace (unless you’re going to a cool shadowy look). Branches, shutters, or window screens can work against you, so walk around to the outside of your window to make sure nothing is hindering your light.
Then, invest in a really expensive photo prop called a “Foam Board”. You can get them at Walgreens for $2.50. You can get them in a variety of colors at your local craft store, but the drug store has them in black and white year round. We usually grab 2 white in case one gets smudged.
Grab your camera (or your iPhone) and take a couple test shots on the white foam board to ensure you’re happy with the amount of light and that your background is turning out as white as you’d like it.