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  • Writer's picturestephenriella

It's all FLAT!!!

Flat lay photography, just like every other style of photography, is an art form. The major difference is you are in charge of a cast of characters that need to be arranged in a fashion that makes sense. Let's break it down into steps.

Step 1: The Subject.

In the case above the knife is center stage so it is the main subject. There are so many options to choose from so let's go through a few to get you going:

Floral-single flowers or entire bouquets

Food- amazing meals or food prep

Product-knives, playing cards, clothes, camera gear, watches, you name it!

Beverages, I put this one separate from food because alcohol and coffee make up their own categories.

Step 2: Choose your background.

I prefer a background that compliments the main subject while not being too distracting. I used an old cutting board that had some nice textures and knife marks so I felt it helped compliment the scene. You can use just about anything as long as it doesn't distract your viewers eyes.

Step 3: The supporting cast.

Here is where some thought starts coming into play. What will compliment your main subject and make sense? If you were shooting a dish of food, perhaps, around the outside you would have a beverage, a few ingredients in small bowls surrounding the dish. Be creative and think about textures.

I find added textures help create depth and interest in the image. The patterned leather knife case, top left, with a smooth dark cup of coffee in the opposite lower corner helped add an opposite, as does the silver compass diagonally opposite the flat colored map... Rocky Mountain National Park in case you were wondering. :-)

Step 4: Add the fill.

The fill takes up the dead space. The type of flat lay you try should give you some ideas on what you could use. If it's a food dish perhaps some dried oregano or parsley could be sprinkled about in the negative space. I used some coffee grounds to fill in some of the space between the supporting cast and the main subject. You don't need to over do this part but a light sprinkling should add a little intrigue to the image.

Step 5: Taking the shot.

Sharp, good light and smooth. Keep the ISO low. Your subject is not going to run away so no need for a fast snap, take your time. F stop is important. From end to end you want the image sharp, this shouldn't be a depth of field capture. Keep the F stop between 7.1 and 11.

Preferably you will use a tripod for the image on a two second timer delay to remove any camera shake. If you don't have a tripod, that's fine, just try to make sure you are getting a complete top down look and try to make sure you don't block needed light to illuminate your scene.

Step 6: Post Processing:

Apply whatever edit you want, just be mindful of two things.

1. Is the edit helping your subject stand out or is it hiding it?

2. Be mindful of the edges of the frame. Don't leave unplanned on gaps.

I hope this helps you guys for this weeks portion of the photo challenge. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email or DM me on Instagram.

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