How to Take Product Flatlay Shots for Instagram

The question I get asked the most by fellow bloggers is: How do I create my product flatlays for Instagram? I receive many messages and emails asking about what lighting I use, what camera lens I recommend, and how do I pick what to include in a shot.

There’s a reason why flatlays are SO popular – they
highlight products in a beautiful way, and can draw a lot of attention
to your Instagram account (My IG account is @ellaprettyblog). A lot of my flatlays have been regrammed by
bigger brands – which has driven new followers back to my account – this flatlay was regrammed by L’Oreal to over 3 million followers! My product photography has also translated into
paid opportunities, as brands have approached me to work on sponsored
Instagram campaigns for them. Since I get asked about so many questions about my flatlays – I thought I’d put all my tips and tricks together in one easy-to-refer-to post. Hope you find it useful!

Lighting – The most important factor in taking a crisp and clear photo is lighting. I NEVER use lightboxes/flashes/studio lights, because nothing can take the place of natural light. And luckily – it’s free! Whenever possible, I photograph my flatlays near a large window. The weekends are a great time to take flatlay shots, as you can take advantage of the best lighting times during the day.

Background – A pretty background can make all the difference in your photos. Popular “Instagrammable” backgrounds include white bedsheets, white posterboard, marble tile and faux fur throws. You can also use surfaces around your house, like interesting tables or counter tops. For the marble effect, you can pick up tile slabs or you can buy marble contact paper and make your own background. You can also buy ready made backdrops from photography stores.

Props – Props help fill in the gaps of your flatlay – and complement the story you’re telling with your picture. For example, in the holiday baking picture above – I added cooking paraphernalia in the same size and colour scheme as my main items. Popular “Instagrammable” props include fresh flowers, macarons (or any photogenic dessert – cupcakes, frosted cookies), mugs of coffee, magazines, jewelry and pretty makeup. When arranging your photo, try to focus on 2-3 colours …and remember, metallic props go with everything!

Composition – This is the X factor that makes or breaks your photo – the ability to arrange your items in a “beautiful mess” until it feels balanced. There are some photography rules that can guide you – such as “the rule of thirds” and “leading lines” – this article does a great job in describing them. My flatlay process involves a lot of tiny adjustments – I arrange my items, take a photo, analyze it, nudge everything around a bit, take another photo, analyze and repeat! Sometimes the main product looks good in the center of the photo, other times I like it in the corner. If something doesn’t look right, I might tilt it slightly. If there are large gaps, I look for little props to fill in. Try zooming in or zooming out until you get the perfect shot!


Editing – If you take photos in good lighting conditions, you won’t need to edit your photos too much. I like to keep it simple and do any edits on my phone – I usually lighten and brighten my pictures before posting. My favourite editing apps are VSCO and Fotor – but there are SO many good apps to choose from!

Equipment – People are often surprised to find out that my flatlays are exclusively photographed using my LG G5 phone (and before that, my G4 and G3). I’ve even had people message me asking me if I use specific DSLR lenses for my photos! But I get such amazing results from my phone, that there’s never any need to use a professional camera.

My LG G5 has a 16 megapixel lens – so it is able to capture all the details in my flatlays. Similar to a DSLR camera – the G5 offers the option to shoot in Automatic, or you can play around with the focus and exposure in Manual mode. LG has included some fun extras with this phone – there’s a separate back lens (with 8 megapixels) for wide angle shots, as well as an 8 megapixel front-facing selfie lens with facial detection. With the popout and multi-view options, you can simultaneously take photos using both the front and back lenses – and combine them all in one image!

Compared to my blogger friends’ iPhones – I think the G5 is able to capture clearer photos – in flatlays and otherwise… we often end up using my phone to take group photos! And I love that I can easily take photos, edit and upload – all on one device. It’s definitely my flatlay must-have!

Do you have any photography tips to add? Please share in the comments below!

DISCLAIMER: I am an LG G5 influencer and was gifted the G5 phone. 

18 Comments

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:00 am

      It's amazing how much natural light helps <3

  1. Shelby Rae
    February 24, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    Love these tips! I always wondered where to get the marble I really wanted to use it for a background of my baking! Thanks so much 🙂 The Fernweh Wolf / Travel & Lifestyle Blog xx

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:01 am

      Yay -glad this was helpful. Food always looks lovely photographed on marble!

  2. Adeleye Awoliyi
    February 24, 2017 / 10:45 pm

    Hello Zeba, Thanks so much for this post I LOVE it!! Great information shared and note taken! I love and use natural lights as well!www.styleandbeautymum.com

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:02 am

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post!

  3. Jenelle Nicole
    February 25, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Your flat lays are always amazing!

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:02 am

      Thanks sweetie!

  4. Rebecca Morgan
    February 26, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    One handy tip for the marble look is an end cut of counter top. That's what I personally use and it's great because I can bring it to wherever the light is that day! I also always shoot in daylight exclusively. So many amazing tips here!Rebecca | morerebe.com

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:02 am

      What a great idea – esp because it's probably easy to wipe clean as needed too!

  5. Savvy Southern Chic
    February 26, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I always love working with natural light!

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      February 27, 2017 / 4:02 am

      So glad you liked the tips!

  6. Beautygirl 24
    February 27, 2017 / 6:47 pm

    I'm pretty terrible at flatlays so I'm going to take all of this advice! Thanks Zeba!

  7. Trisha Enriquez
    March 6, 2017 / 4:44 am

    I loved this post Zeba!

  8. Ciara
    March 15, 2017 / 1:24 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! Your flat lays are amazing. I've been trying to improve my flat lay game and you've totally inspired me!Ciarawww.ciarasalloum.com

  9. Honey
    March 18, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    Wow, I just stumbled upon this, but your pictures really do look great (and I'm not even a fan of flatlays)… Nice!xo Honey – blog Royal Lifestyle – Twitter – Instagram

  10. D
    March 19, 2017 / 3:56 am

    How do you get your products to stay and not roll over? Do you tape them?

  11. Tales of Two
    March 22, 2017 / 4:31 am

    Flatlays have become so popular! I personally don't do too many but kind of getting inspired to do more by this post!www.talesoftwoblog.blogspot.com

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