Styling a Flat Lay
Extensive reading, scrolling through endless Instagram accounts, and tons of practicing to master the art of the flat lay. This is the life of a new ethical blogger especially one that has a passion for flat lays, which is why I'm truly honored and excited that the Honest Quill has asked me to write this guest post on styling flat lays.
As much as I love the gold, white, and pink flat lays that are so popular on Instagram these days, my own aesthetic is more globally-inspired. I was born in the Caribbean, have Indian roots, and have traveled extensively throughout Africa and Asia. Travel is the lifeblood of my work and that’s reflected in my passion for Developing Style. I want my flat lays to reflect that, even while being clean and simple. If you're looking for a few tips on how to achieve this look (or how to find your own signature look), I've picked up a few things that I’d love to share with you:
1Lighting is KEY (I know this sounds cliché, but it is the truth!) - Specifically, morning light or that perfect golden light right before sunset are the BEST times for making your flat lay look great. I've learned this the hard way. My current hometown of Washington D.C. is known to have its fair share of grey days, especially during winter with limited daylight. For that reason, I set up my flat lays hours before I actually achieve the right light. It takes a while to get the right look, and when you do, the last thing you want is for it to be poorly lit.
2Balance is essential - Setting up a balanced flat lay is almost as important as getting the perfect lighting. By balance, I mean a flat lay that has a combination of the right textures, colors, and patterns. For example, if you are featuring a grey sweater and everything else in your flat lay is grey, the sweater will absolutely not stand out. You need to think through what colors will help you balance the grey and help it "pop". Similarly, think through the textures that might help the sweater stand out. Pairing the sweater with a similarly-textured scarf will blend together. Pairing it with a bold silver necklace or black leather boots will add nice contrast. I learned a ton about color theory and balancing textures and patterns through the book profiled here if anyone is interested in reading more.
3Space – Leaving the right amount space between objects is a crucial part of achieving the balance I mentioned above. Your objects can't be clustered too closely together. Similarly, they can't be too few and far apart or they will get lost in the photo. In addition, it's important to keep enough space around the perimeter of your shot - something that Gaayathri has taught me!
For anyone looking for a global aesthetic similar to mine, it's crucial to keep the tips above in mind at all times. "Global" styles - especially those from India - can have a tendency to be very bright, heavy on patterns, and very textured. You don't want to overwhelm your followers by having too much of these elements in your shot. For that reason, I tend to balance out the rest of my shot with "cleaner" elements, such as white marble or wood.
In addition, don't think you have to buy a lot of new products to achieve that globally-inspired look. You probably have lots of items laying around at home that can help you do that - it can be as simple as a patterned rug, a scarf with interesting details, a fun clutch, or even an interestingly patterned wall in your neighborhood. Remember, you don't want to overwhelm your readers with all of the items you've picked up from your travels all in one shot. It's more about finding the right objects to pair with these items and keeping the rest of the look fairly clean and straightforward.
With these tips in mind, I hope you are able to achieve your signature flat lay look. This is what will make you stand out from the crowd. If you ever need any other tips, I'm more than happy to work with you, so please feel free to get in touch!