8 Secrets to Creating the Perfect Flatlay on Instagram

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Savannah Larsen

Savannah Larsen founded The Blog Issue in June of 2014. Her goal was to create a magazine for bloggers in order to showcase their talents and inspiration worldwide.

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No. 1: Choose your Subject

What’s the highlight of the picture? Want to show off a new pair of shoes you got? Necklace? Loving stripes right now? Choose something to focus on and build an outfit around that item. I am a sucker for stripes and pink (hi this whole blog design) so I wanted to focus on keeping the picture simple (since stripes are busy enough) by not crowding it with too many accessories. To me, the top picture looks better than the second picture because it’s not over done with the addition of the crossbody purse. 

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No. 02: Balance is Key

Make sure that you balance out large items with more dainty items so you don’t end up with a bundled mess. This green Madewell jacket is actually pretty boxy when laid down, so I tucked the sides into the waist (to give it a more hourglass shape as how it fits on my body) and paired it with a white mini skirt to make it more summer friendly. 

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No. 03: Arrange and Re-Arrange 

I rarely take just one picture when I’m doing a flatlay. Sometimes I notice the picture causes a shadowy wrinkle, others may just look disproportionate, and some I just don’t like. So to make sure I get the perfect shot, I take multiple pictures while rearranging the items in the picture. You may notice from the first and the second, I ditched the sunglasses and moved the wedges to the left side of the picture to balance out the straw tote. This created much more symmetry for the eye and is, by marketing standpoints,  more appealing.

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No. 04: Pick a Color Scheme

Colors can help evoke emotions, so pick a color that goes for the mood you are trying to convey. Summertime is all about blue hydrangeas (especially if you live on the East Coast), so these made the perfect statement color for the photo. To me, it screams: Totes Adorbs. 

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No. 05: Only Shoot on Square Setting

The iPhone has an amazing feature where you can shoot on square setting, so why shoot on anything else? To me, shooting in square helps you prepare the scene in the appropriate frame that it’s going to be condensed down to when it goes to Instagram. Some will argue that having the whole picture present is great for being able to crop out things that don’t belong in the picture, but you can plan ahead and already shoot on square so you know you are getting the perfect shot each time.

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No. 06: Get High Above your Subject

Nature graced me with height, so I don’t typically have to stand on a stool or my tippy toes to get enough height to capture the entire shot. But if you need, make sure you get enough height between you and your subject so that the entire focal point can be in the frame. Also the further away you are, the better chances you have to adjust the straightness of the photo without compromising the picture itself. 

No. 07: Only use Natural Light

Good lighting is hard to come by inside unless you’re willing to buy expensive lighting kits and setups. My favorite thing to do is take my subject outside in either early morning (between 7-8AM) or later at night (I took these photos at 8pm) right before the sun is setting. Anytime between then, you can’t shoot in direct sunlight or you may get odd shadows and extreme color saturation. So if you can, plan your outfits before hand, and then take the shots during the “golden hours”. If you still think the picture needs more “umph” after you’ve taken it, upload it to the app “After Light” and adjust the brightness. For 99 cents this app has been as amazing as Photoshop without the headaches! I can’t recommend it enough! 

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No. 08: Have a Neutral Background

The biggest game changer I have noticed between successful flatlays and unsuccessful ones were the backgrounds they laid on. Everyone wants that perfect white background or white marble for their photos, but marble is expensive and contact paper gets messy easily. When Fun Real Run Flooring sent me this patio rug in White Wash, I knew exactly that it was going to be the perfect background for Instagram posts but especially it was going to liven up the dreary concrete patio we have in the backyard. The best thing about this rug is that it is machine washable and slip free. So when I want to bring this inside and be the “catch all” for dirt in the foyer, I don’t have to worry about our dog sliding it across the floor while running through the house and then I can pop it in the wash afterward! Plus doesn’t it look like real wood? I’m obsessed with how realistic it looks. 

Written & Photography by Cynthia Hoyt

Do you have good Instagram tips? We would love to hear them! Email us, media{@}theblogissue.com

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