I was gripped by the look of these flat lay photography shots! Why couldn’t I make mine look this good? I kept on trying but nothing was working well. Then, I realised. My backgrounds were all wrong. I needed some great looking backgrounds before I could go any further with my flat lays!
Why Flat Lay Photography?
For me, flat lay photography is a way to show the different gear setups that I use. If that is the camera and lenses I will be using today, or if it is the combination of outdoor brand clothing and “in my bag” gear that I am taking on a photoshoot session. Gear like the Fuji GFX! For more on why I bought this camera, check out this article.
Flat lay photography let me display these in a consistent and interesting way.
In case you don’t know, flat lay photography is when you lay things out flat and take a birds-eye-view shot of them. Instagrammers use this for food shots, in my bag shots, etc. There are many styles you can adopt, or you can even make up your own style.
My Journey Towards Flat Lay Photography
In an effort to make my Instagram feed more about the photography lifestyle, (read here about where this is all going) I wanted to show occasional shots of the gear that I use. One of the ways to do this is with flat lay photography. My problem has been that I can never find an interesting background.
The background is key to a good flat lay.
This is why I set about making my own backgrounds. My backgrounds needed to do the following:
Be easy to setup and tear-down.
Be appropriate for my outdoor/natural light Instagram feel.
Offer a selection of light and dark looks (depending upon the items I would be photographing).
This meant I needed them to be about A3 in size, be very light and be reversible (so they don’t take up much space).
Making Flat Lay Photography Backgrounds
The first thing I did was to order some sticky-backed vinyl. You can get this pretty cheaply on Amazon and it comes in many different colours and patterns. I decided upon the following patterns:
Whitewashed wood grain
Beach cabin wood
Black carbon fibre weave
This gave me a selection of dark and light backgrounds that also had a mix of natural and artificial materials. Just so I can throw in the occasional technology type shot on some carbon fibre.
Once I had these, I went out and got four sheets of poster board/foam core. This stuff is great for making a fairly rigid surface that doesn’t weigh a tonne. They are really easy to move around, set up and put away. They don’t take up much room and I can hide them behind the studio sofa when I’m not using them.
Then came the difficult part.
Sticking the vinyl onto the boards. This is a skill. And it’s a skill that I don’t have! Trying to keep things smooth and bubble free is difficult.
However, I managed the first one pretty well. But then I got overconfident. The second one developed several wrinkles. It took some heavy cosmetic surgery with a razor blade to make things look better.
I covered the front and the back of the boards with different patterns. This makes them reversible and takes up even less room. I wrapped the vinyl around the edges to help protect them from wear and tear. Then, after a few hours of being extremely careful, I had my flat lay photography backgrounds.
Now, whenever the inspiration strikes, I reach behind the studio sofa and pull out the backgrounds. Flick through them to see one that will work for the idea I have. Lay it down on the floor and begin to arrange my objects.
I prefer to have things nicely lined up in my flat lay photography shots.
Using a blank, white piece of the foam core as a reflector, I throw some sunlight onto my layout and then take my shot. Everything then gets quickly put away again once I’m happy with the shot.
All in all, this process shouldn’t take longer than 15-minutes.
I need to work on my layout skills a little, but that will come with time. And now that I have some great looking backgrounds I can focus on getting great looking flat lay photos. For some other tips on flat lay photography, check this article out.
I’m really pleased with this little project. It is something that is relatively cheap to do but adds so much to the final look of the photos. Instead of photographing objects on a table that isn’t quick large enough or on a carpet that is just a little too beige, I have a selection of great looking backgrounds that weight next to nothing and take up little space in my studio.
So, thanks for reading this far. I hope you found this useful. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know. Drop a comment below or (even better) send me a message on Instagram or Twitter.
What do you think of Flat Lay Photography? Do you have any tricks for getting that great looking background? I’d love to know more. Drop it in the comments below!
Thanks again, have a great day, watch less, create more,