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10 Tips How to Make Perfect Flat Lay Photography That Catches the Eye
How to make flat lay photography that drives conversions up. 10 practicable insights from the product photography provider with studios in New York and Los Angeles.
Mar 9, 2021
Flat lay product images are a treat to an eye – customers’ eyes included – which have a direct connection to customers’ purchasing intent, as any savvy entrepreneur knows.
With over a decade of experience in ecommerce product photography, taking quality commercial imagery in New York and Los Angeles for over 1,000 brands, Squareshot is delighted to reveal some insider tips on how to make flat lay photography that sell.
Flat lay photography is a method of positioning of items for the shoot employed in the production of commercial product images, whereby objects are placed on the horizontal surface and shot from above.
This method is widely used in social media visual content plans, in the creation of food, jewelry, fashion, cosmetics images.
It's just to say that all smaller objects are subject to this type of commercial shoot sooner or later.
When it comes to alternative methods of item positioning, professionals also distinguish the ghost mannequin, hanged/pinned and on-model techniques. Let's quickly run through them for a better understanding of the flat lay characteristics.
In the same way, you can take a picture of clothes, just pin it to the foam wall]
Most of the professional product photography studios will operate a flat lay shoot when their camera is tethered to a computer – so they can see the images on the bigger screen right away.
A tether cord needs to have the respective connections that fit both your computer and your camera on opposite ends. There are software programs that enable this mode of the shoot, but Lightroom also has this feature for those who are not looking to master yet another software product.
Why shoot tethered?
But what's most important in this type of shooting is arranging the flat lay photography setup.
There are a few ways how you can approach this mission, the most common ones will include a sturdy heavy-duty C stand with a sandbag for stability and a combo of a tripod and an arm like Manfrotto 131DB, that can also be stabilized with sandbags if needed. For a full list of professional photo equipment, that we use please see the respective paragraph below.
You can use natural light or professional photo studio equipment. The main mission is to have your product well-lit so that every detail is available for inspection.
Well-lit objects will also require minimal photo correction in the post-editing stage, which can be really expensive and time-consuming.
If you choose to shoot with the natural light, these insights may help:
If a client provides an example image, try to set up your lighting to replicate that. Resulting exposition is vital when setting up flat-lay product photography lighting. To ensure the image is not overexposed or underexposed, it's good to make 2 test images with a color passport. The first image of the darkest item in the series needs to be taken with a color passport showing a grey card and the second test image is for the lightest item with a color passport showing a spread with a color bar.
This is exactly the equipment we use for our professional flat lay product photography, but you can certainly find cheaper as well as more expensive alternatives.
Just a kind reminder for all the noobs out there trying to save money and DIYing your flat lay product photography clothing session: the speckless item means less expensive postediting.
If you are hiring a studio, the best practice will be to ensure a thorough wipe beforehand and only give a final dust on the spot immediately prior to the shoot. Ensure you bring along all the necessary gear to make your items sparkly: microfiber cloth, lint roller, compressed gas duster.
Needless to say, the clothes must be freshly-ironed and creaseless, while jewelry must be handled in gloves to avoid fingerprints.
When it comes to positioning your items for a shoot, whose results will be served on one of those big platforms like Amazon and Shopify, you definitely need 3 to 5 angles to start with and assortment can go up to 10 for premium items or one-product landing pages.
Below are the examples of the angles we recommend to our clients with images for better illustration:
When we work in our flat lay photography studio in New York, we always pay extra attention to the positioning of all of the symmetrically-designed objects symmetrically. We can even use a ruler to ensure the distance from the rightest line of the photographed garment is exactly the same as the opposite distance on the left.
Not only does it reduce post-production time, but it also provides the overall feeling of harmony and balance, which absence may subconsciously scare a perfectionist away without even realizing the reason for the urge to bounce.
Flat lay ecommerce photography standards are rather strict on global marketplaces, but if you are shooting for a personal website, there can be different shadow requirements in the technical specification:
To ensure drop shadow, shoot against the paper background;
It’s the best practice in flat lay product photography to keep an object and a camera in a plane.
The other pro trick that helps to ensure a perfect shot is to always use a level to make sure the table for shooting and the camera are both 95% in a horizontal position. Naturally, if you have a tripod with a level – this is the best model for this type of job.
These are some of the fundamental technical standards to keep in mind when shooting your products laid horizontally for your ecommerce projects.
As for the aesthetics, there can be quite a bit of creativity in the flat lays, but if you are on a mission to create photography for the ecommerce, these are our recommendations to be aware of:
While photography is no rocket science, the resulting images can make it or break it for your sales.
If your sales have a few zeros to them, consider hiring a professional photo studio to perform such jobs. Not only it may cost you less at the end of the day, but the results are also likely to bring a lucrative ROI.
When it comes to the rates for the flat lay photos, they range across the board and will depend on these factors among many:
Squareshot has heaps of experience to produce the images that capture the eye and make one reach out for the wallet. So our ecommerce photography pricing is an investment worth making with one-shot starting from $35 in the enterprise package.
While it may take a few hours or days for you to take exactly the photos you are not ashamed of posting to your web or social media, photography is an enjoyable process.
If you need flat lay product photography clothing services, or quality jewelry shots, but don’t feel like experimenting with all the lighting, reflectors, positioning, props and textures, commission it to the pros. Squareshot has done some amazing job for thousands of growing brands, check out our portfolio and pass your own judgment.
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