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March 14, 2019

How to Style a Flat Lay like a Pro

flat lay photography

A few weeks back we wrote up a tutorial on how to create beautiful styling boards for under $30. Now that you’ve made your backdrops you’re probably wondering how to style your flat lay scene, right? Well I’m here to help.

Nearly all of the photos on our website, Instagram and Pinterest were taken by me, at home with my iPhone. I have tried many different set ups, scoured antique malls for props, and hunted the internet for the cheapest, but prettiest, ribbon. I’ve compiled a list to help you find the right props for you, and a list of tips on how to style your flat lay like a pro.

Here are my tried and true tips for flat lay styling

  • Put your styling board by a window. You want natural light, so use it wherever you can. I usually set everything up by the window in my house that gets the best afternoon light. Sometimes I set up by the sliding door in the back of the house too. (We get less light to the back of our house with the exception of a ~20 minute span when the sun hits perfectly, so I usually just stick to the window.)
  • Give your stationery flat items DIMENSION. I use toy blocks and old business cards. If you are taking a picture of 4 cards and an envelope you want some to be closer to the camera than others. Give a little shadow. You can use anything small enough to put behind your item. I’ve even used stacks of staples before LOL. Get creative
  • Use real flowers vs. fake. I used dried flowers because they’re reusable forever, but faux flowers look just that. Fake. You’re taking photos up close of your flat lay, so really you’re just showing hella detail on the fake stems on that hydrangea you just bought from Hobby Lobby. Save em for your vases, not your flat lay photography.
  • Use the right props! Finding props is never ending, but good ones make a difference. Below I have linked you to my favorite shops for different items. I’m not affiliated with any of them, and I don’t get anything if you purchase from them, I just really love their products.


Where to buy the perfect props for your flat lay styling

  • Dried flowers: I get all of my dried flower bundles from this seller on Etsy. She creates custom bundles by request, so I usually do that.
  • Velvet ring boxes: These are expensive. Especially from The Mrs. Box, and for my photos I don’t need all that. I usually get my velvet ring boxes from this shop on Etsy. They have a good variety of shapes, styles and colors.
  • Vintage stamps: I bought this pack back in 2017 of used vintage stamps and haven’t bought any since. I use at least a couple of these in nearly every photo.
  • Ribbon and Cheesecloth: I really love LinenLark. These were the first props I ever bought and I can’t say enough good things about them. They add so much variety to your photos. I have since started dying my own cheesecloth and ribbons for photos, which is a blog post for another time, but if I didn’t I would still be using this shop.
  • Ring dishes: I suggest getting these anywhere you see them. Anthropologie, antique malls, or on Etsy. You can get so many different ones that I can’t really point you in a wrong direction here.

That’s it! You should go with neutral colors, or colors you use often to start out. All of these props add up pretty quickly and even though you might LOVE that mustard color cheese cloth, you need to think how practical *or not* it will be for your flat lay photography.

Most importantly, have fun and give yourself grace. You’re not a professional photographer and sometimes the light just doesn’t work with you. Try again the next day, ya know, when it’s actually sunny out + it isn’t 8PM with the sun setting. It takes practice, and your camera roll will be filled with nearly identical photos, but you’ll get some good ones, I promise!

Good luck! Be sure to tag us on Instagram to show us your flat lay styling attempts once you try! If you have questions, drop them in the comments below!

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how to style a flat lay

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