4 Steps to Great Stationery Flat Lay Photos

Amy Eaton is a great product photographer and even more so a wonderful educator.

She’s come up with a system of techniques that are easy to follow and practical for the average maker/crafter!

Her online course Snap, Sell, Succeed, is dedicated to makers and crafters who want to take quality photographs of their products in order to make more sales and up their social media game. AKA US! You can find it as well as her other courses on her website.

Amy’s course is currently closed, but this week you’re getting the inside scoop as she generously shares her 4 Tips for Great Stationery Flat Lay Photos!

Amy’s tips are simple, easy to follow, and can be easily implemented with little to no money.

Check out the live interview here, or scroll on down for a recap of Amy’s 4 tips!

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

Alright, so first thing’s first: what the heck is a flat lay? Simply put, a flat lay is a photo of an item flat on a surface taken from above. And now that you know WHAT a flat lay is, I’m sure you will see. them. everywhere! Flat lay images are a great tool in social media and product photography because the ‘from above’ point of view helps the consumer imagine themselves looking down at your item.

4 Tips for Taking Great Flat Lay Photos:

*To preface, these tips will for sure give your flat lay photos a boost, but there is so much to be said about proper lighting and editing. For more tips on how to properly light and edit your photos, check out the interview I did a few weeks back with Emma!*

Know your Brand

Think of your brand as the body you want your business to have. A few examples would be sophisticated, cheerful, simplistic, modern…

If you’re not sure, ask yourself these questions: What is your business all about?  What VIBES do you want to put out into the world? The following 3 steps don’t really work if you don’t know your brand, so take the time to figure it out. (Mood boards are an awesome way to piece it all together!)

Choose Props and Backgrounds

Brand, brand, brand. Choose a background that go in line with your brand. You don’t want anything too busy or else it’ll distract from your item, so keep it simple.

Marble is HUGE right now. You can either use real tile or DIY a fake background using a foam core board and some contact paper! Other popular choices are dark wood, white wash wood and slate.

Props are such an easy way to add some dimension to your photo.

Washi tape, flowers, paper clips, pretty notebooks, leaves and ribbons are all great ideas. Amy has also provided an awesome list of 90, YEAH, 90 (!!!) prop ideas for us! (Check it out below)

One thing to remember is that the depth of field is important to consider. Something like a tall plant or a vase might not photograph well.

P.S. Don’t forget to grab Amy’s 90 Prop Ideas freebie here!

Prop Arrangement

The whole point of these photos are to highlight your item/work. So here are a few things to make sure of this:

  • Where do your eyes go first? You want your item to be the focal point.
  • When in doubt, make it front and centre.
  • Your item should be the biggest thing in the photo (again to draw your eyes to it and not a prop item).
  • Place items in a triangle shape relationship (see video for example!).
  • Draw attention to your item by making props point towards it.
  • Keep everything linear. Either parallel or perpendicular.

“If it’s not the right angle, it’s the wrong angle!” – Amy Eaton

Bonus Tip: Mix textures! Mixing soft ribbons on a hard surface or a warm cup of coffee with a fuzzy blanket enriches the storytelling of a photo.

Have Consistent Aesthetic

Going back to your brand identity, you have chosen a “look” you’re going for and now you need to find a colour palette and STICK. TO. IT.

Want some colour inspiration? Amy suggests you take a look at Design Seeds, but be warned, it’s a bit of a rabbit hole of beautiful colours.

Keep this in mind when you are doing your post photo editing as well. Stay consistent with how you edit (shadows, highlights, sharpness…) and use a photo editing app such as Snap Seed or Illustrator and Photoshop.

Amy Eaton’s Go-To Tools:

Nikon D800 – This is a bigtime professional camera, but there is no need for this when you’re starting out. You should, however, have a goal of someday having your own DSLR camera! Until then, your smart phone camera is all you need.

Step Stool – Safety first friends! I don’t want to find out that you are all climbing up on tables for these photos. A stool will help you get above your subjects easy peasy. 

Natural light is best, when possible. Even better is when the day is slightly overcast! 

Reflector – If you don’t have an *actual* reflector, a quick trip to the dollar store will be so worth it. Snag a few white foam boards and some L-brackets and you can easily (and cheaply) DIY your own stand-up reflectors!

There you have it! Now that you have the tools and the tips from a pro, be sure to experiment with your new knowledge and test out your improved flat lay photography skills!

I really hope you enjoyed this interview! Make sure you’re subscribed to The Happy Ever Crafter TV to catch the rest in the series! And one last HUGE thank you to Amy!

Interested in more of these interviews? You can also join the Facebook group, where these Q&A’s are hosted LIVE, and submit your own questions for future guests.

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