One of the hottest trends in online is flat lay photography. If you’re not familiar with it, you’ve probably already seen it around. Flat lay is where you lay items flat and take a photo from directly above. Here’s an example of a flat lay photograph I took:

This is a simple example of flat lay photography, but you can see how the items are arranged almost randomly, with plenty of white space.

To get a photo like this, you need good overhead lighting. The trick is to avoid having your shadow in the photo, however. I’ve build a special light box that allows me to suspend my camera over the surface and position the items as needed.

How To: Flat Lay Photography |
My Lightbox
How To: Flat Lay Photography |
My Lightbox with a special flat-lay mount panel on top for my camera

I use this lightbox for virtually all of my product photography, including my step-by-step photos. We’ve also used it for overhead videos of processes. Here are some of the photos taken with it.

How To: Flat Lay Photography |

How To: Flat Lay Photography |

Learn how to build your own lightbox at DIY Lightbox for Expert Photos that Wow!

Flat Lay Photography Tips

No time to make or room to make a lightbox? Try getting a sheet of white foamcore from the office supply store and set your items out on that, preferably outside in the morning, or even on an overcast day. Avoid midday light, as it tends to be a hard light. Use a chair to stand above your items and snap a photo from directly overhead. White tends to work best because it will show the true colors of your items best and because people like these light, bright photos!

You can also use different background colors, either in your lightbox or as a simple sheet of foamcore or posterboard on the ground. Be wary of dark colors, however, as it may wash out your items and also, again, light and bright photos are preferred. I sometimes use a red background because red is my blog’s dominant color.

When you lay out your items, do your best to balance them amongst one another. Sometimes it works best to have one or two large items, and several smaller items. Be sure to leave space in between items. Or, if you have just one item, you can frame it with something related, as I’ve done in the photograph of the star above.

Need some inspiration? Here are Instagram photos with excellent flat lays: