What is a Flat Lay? Plus Tips to Creating Gorgeous Backgrounds

I do love having a collection of my own images to use for blog posts and social media. It really helps to strengthen your style and brand but also stops that awkward moment when you realise that you are all using the same stock images. 🙈 It happens a lot! Flat lay images are a great tool for creating stories within your social media, showcasing products and a lifestyle visually rather than written, which is far more engaging for an audience. Whist a flat lay image can be easily tailored to your style and tastes, they can take practice to get the hand of spacing, staging and generally making a styled image look effortless. I’m still working on that!  Tell a Story but remember sometimes less is more good flat lay images work well when there is some blank space.

Freelancer Stickers Charlie Moos

What is a Flat Lay? : 

A flat lay is basically a style of photography whereby a number of items/objects/things are arranged on a surface and then photographed from above, a birds-eye view. This style is really popular on Instagram as it lends well to a square shape.

Flay lay photography is popular amongst bloggers and crafters to set scenes, it’s visually appealing and can encourage potential customers to buy more than one item. Flay lay images are a useful tool for showing the scale of items/products too.  You don’t need a DSLR camera either most mobile phone cameras will work just as well if not better as you can set to square scale if the images are just for Instagram. Consider investing in a tripod as this will help eliminate any shake, preferably buy one with a rotating head so that you can take images from above. As much as possible use natural light (can be easier said than done in the UK!) outside or in a window.

Flat lay Emma Reed

Emma Reed

5 Things You Can Use to Create Stylish Flat Lay Backgrounds :

Your backgrounds don’t need to be stark and white if that’s not the feel you are going for, use items You don’t have to go out and spend loads of money on backgrounds, you probably have the perfect surfaces around the home or can grab some samples for free.

  1. Flooring : Have a wander around your house and look at the texture and appearance of your laminate flooring, vinyl, carpet, rugs or tiled floors. I did a collaboration with Made By Me Craft Parties and she produced a floor sample as her background, always makes me chuckle when I see the images now. self employed team building social bath bomb making
  2. Maps : Maps make the perfect background for travel based storytelling images and they are relatively cheap you can usually find old Ordnance Survey Maps in charity shops.
  3. Marble Fablon : (If you are a bit old skool like me then Fablon is sticky back plastic) You can find Fablon in most DIY stores relatively cheap which you can either roll out when you want to use or cover a piece of wood/cardboard.  You can get Fablon in any design if marble isn’t your thing.
  4. Table Tops : Daddy Moo built me a wooden coffee table a few years ago. It’s made from reclaimed wood and has a rustic, tactile look to it. This table is my favourite place to take photographs. It’s also quite light if I need to move it closer to a window plus the table is low enough that I don’t need to be standing on a chair to get that birds-eye view image.boxclever press family planner
  5. Wrapping Paper : Wrapping paper comes in all sorts of designs and makes the perfect background for flat lay images. Not only can you change the background to suit themes/seasons/complement your objects but it is easy to store rolled up for next time.  The same can be said for wallpaper which can add texture and dimension to your flat lay images.
  6. Oilcloth/PVC Coated Tablecloths : You can pretty much get any design from wood to leaves to geometric designs. Being wipe clean they are easy to care for, fold up when not in use or just use as your daily table cloth.
  7. Textiles : Textiles provide texture and depth to images and part of the charm is the ruffled look.  Perfect for lazy Sunday’s cosy content, giving that Hygge feels to your content.  Your textiles don’t have to be the whole background either, layer them up or for food content a hint of the tea towel/muslin in the image changes the story completely from completed cooking to mid cooking.

Flat lay mummy in a tutu

Mummy In A Tutu

What kind of backgrounds do you use for your flat lay images?

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  1. January 14, 2020 / 4:56 pm

    ahh love this and thank you so much for including my image.

  2. January 15, 2020 / 1:07 pm

    Thank you for including my photo in your post! I love creating flat lay images and I’ll be trying out using textiles and maps in the future.
    Alexia Browning recently posted..Autumn Crafts for KidsMy Profile

  3. January 16, 2020 / 5:57 pm

    I have an Instagram account where I post pictures of pictures related to criminology. I’ll definitely use flat lay as an angle. Thank you x

    • January 16, 2020 / 10:01 pm

      Oooo that sounds interesting. Criminology x

  4. January 16, 2020 / 9:56 pm

    I haven’t put together a flat lay for ages but these are great tips for the next time I want to be creative!

  5. February 3, 2020 / 12:51 pm

    I went to a wallpaper shop and got myself some samples to do my flat lays. I didn’t really get the hang of displaying things nicely though. I guess I’m not very creative. Some great ideas here though. I have to admit, most of my reviews now are photographed on my wooden coffee table.
    Anne recently posted..Fabulous Beauty Box Competition!My Profile

  6. Claire Roach
    February 3, 2020 / 5:30 pm

    Every time I try to get a decent picture like this it always ends up looking rubbish, I definitely think it’s a gift, just like art.

    • February 3, 2020 / 5:31 pm

      Mine used to be like that I think it’s just practice eventually they stop looking rubbish!

  7. February 9, 2020 / 11:47 pm

    These are such great tips! I never thought of using flooring before, that’s genius! I now want to go and stock up on floor samples, I can’t believe I never thought of using it before! xo

    Makeup Muddle

  8. February 10, 2020 / 7:50 pm

    These are some really helpful tips! I usually use duvet covers as the background in my photos. Although, I’ve been blogging for over 7 years and I still feel like I’m useless at taking flat lays!

  9. February 11, 2020 / 9:58 am

    I think one day I will get the hang of creating a really good flay lay without getting stressed about angles and perfection, some people create some amazing flat lays and I love the idea of using maps as a background!

  10. May 1, 2020 / 9:02 pm

    Another masterpiece Joanne
    I always use your techniques and found a great response. I like your presentation and the way you simplify a complex thing.
    And most importantly, keep helping others, like the way you do now. God bless you…