The Art of Flatlay


Lifestyle Stylist Magdalene Liacopoulos shares her top tips to mastering product styling and content creation.


Good-looking product imagery and content creation is no easy feat for small business owners, and it’s important to remember that the majority of the pictures we drool over, would have a team of professional stylists, photographers, art directors and assistants. As a professional stylist, and small business owner managing my own creatives, here are my top tips to nailing the perfect flat lay and achieving magazine-worthy content.

 

Flat Lay photography - Magdalene Liacopoulous
Photography: Chris Court | Styling: Magdalene Liacopoulous

 

GETTING THE PERFECT FLAT LAY BACKGROUND

The background used in product styling shouldn’t be underestimated, as it sets the tone for your story. A background could be anything from weathered wooden panels (as pictured), to textured paper, or a humble sheet of pegboard. If your budget is limited, look no further than Bunnings. You can pick up a piece of plywood paneling that can be transformed with a coat of paint. Placing your products on flat white paper will be exactly that – flat. When choosing your background consider style, complementing colours and texture – which brings me to my next point…

 

COLOUR & TEXTURE IN PRODUCT STYLING

When I am working on content creation, the first thing I consider is the colour palette and texture. I like to feature a minimum of three colour ways (not including shade variations) and at least two textural elements. The different tones help to add depth, and the textural element will add interest. Imagery needs to tell a story so include textures which make sense, and that will tie everything together.

 

Flatlay - Magdalene Liacopoulous
Photography: Sue Ferris | Styling: Magdalene Liacopoulous

 

PRODUCT PLACEMENT IN FLAT LAY

Let’s be honest – you aren’t going to get the shot first go. There is a lot of fussing and tweaking before nailing the final shot. I recommend placing all your elements on the backdrop and taking a shot. I like to look at the picture to assess what items need to be moved, added or taken out, and expect that this process might need to be repeated a few times. As a personal preference I like some negative space and for some interaction between product and props by overlapping the two. Be sure to have plenty of options when it comes to props – I can guarantee that what you think you will be in the final shot might not work – so be prepared and adaptable.

 

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Lighting is a tricky one, and this is why photographers get paid the big bucks. Photographer Sue Ferris sheds some light (excuse the pun) when it comes to using daylight or flash.

  1. Make sure your light source is consistent across the entire surface of the flat lay. Using reflectors around the set will help to even out the lighting.
  2. Place the set a couple of metres away from the window/light as this will make the light even. And use a light meter to check the lighting throughout.
  3. When shooting directly over the top of the set, ensure your camera is perfectly level horizontally to minimise any distortion, especially if you have to shoot with a wide-angle lens. Use an aperture around f11 to maximise focus.

 

Magdalene Liacopoulos is a seasoned lifestyle and product stylist, and spent over 12 years working for some of Australia's top fashion and lifestyle magazines before becoming a full-time freelance stylist. She also runs a successful nursery and children's room interior design business called The Bebe Style Co. You can follow Magda on Instagram.

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