I talk beauty & mental health

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

How To Make The Perfect Flatlay

If there's one thing that I'm incredibly proud of when it comes to my blog it's how far I've come with my photography, and how I've grown and improved my skills. The best part? It hasn't gone unnoticed. I've received many requests from you to share my ultimate tips on how to create the perfect flatlay. In today's post I'll be discussing all my behind the scenes flatlay secrets, from the lighting, to the props I use, the background and even the best camera settings. Here's how to make the perfect flatlay in 5 simple steps!

Step 1: The Flatlay Background

If you feel like you don't have a nice desk or table top to make your flatlays, buy a fake background! I use fake marble self adhesive foil (also called contact paper) that I found at Brico, a hardware store here in Belgium. You can find the exact same brand that I use at Walmart if you live in the US. It's really inexpensive and it looks beautiful, for 2m of paper you only pay €5.99 and you will have a super pretty flatlay base to work with. Of course your background doesn't have to be marble but I happen to love the marble trend so I'm sticking with this contact paper for now. Fun fact: I don't actually stick this paper onto anything, I just roll it out on my dining table when I'm about to make a flatlay and roll it up when I'm all done!

Step 2: Flatlay Props

There's 2 kind of props that I use in my flatlays. Main props and accessories. The main props are the biggest pieces your find in my flatlays, meaning: the plastic makeup organizer that I found at Primark for €3 (you can find the exact same one at HEMA for €9), the rectangle white/marble coaster (also from HEMA), the rosegold wire basket that I purchased at Maisons Du Monde and the fake lavender plant, from Action, that makes an appearance in almost every single flatlay lately.

When you buy props for your flatlays make sure they are not excessively shiny, dark or large. It will affect the lighting of your picture, the sharpness, and you risk that your camera might just get utterly confused and will not be able to focus properly, especially if props are shiny. Take a good look at the flatlays from bloggers/instagrammers you follow, what is their color scheme, which props make appearances over and over again. I've noticed, for example, that people have been really into scarves and ribbons lately, with white, nude and pink tones. Yes, a simple scarf. I'm sure you have a beautiful one laying around somewhere. Flatlay gear really doesn't have to be expensive or new!

Step 3: Flatlay Accessories & Lay Out

Accessories for me are the kind of props that change in my flatlays all the time. The makeup, the nail polishes, my beloved lash curlers, the jewellery, perfume ... It took me a while to figure out what worked and what didn't. Now I have a set of standard things I like to have in my images and a standard set of rules. The colors of the accessories in my flatlay will affect the color of the pictures I take with my camera, so if I want my image to be more cool toned I'll work with blues, greys (see Marc Jacobs body lotion sample, the essie Gel Couture Nail Polish and the silver eyelash curler from KIKO) and accessories with a hint of black, such as the MAC lipstick and the golden liquid eyeshadow from H&M Beauty. Gold is a color that really lights up my images but also makes them more yellow toned. At times I like to go bold (see wired candle holder from Maisons Du Monde) and other times I like it to be more subtle and just work with minimalistic jewellery (my rings are from SIX) and sample size makeup and beauty products (Perfume is from Rituals). A mix of cool toned and yellow toned products (like the image below) is my favorite kind of set up. It really brings a flatlay to life. The actual lay out of a flatlay is totally up to you, if you're not sure how to start find some inspiration on Instagram or Pinterest. See what you like, what you don't, and start creating!

Step 4: Lighting & Camera

I use both natural and artificial lighting for my flatlays because of the lack of windows in my house. I'm currently working with one roof window and 2 soft boxes from Vida XL. Do soft boxes make a big difference? Sometimes yes, but they're not the end-all be-all of making the perfect flatlay picture, which is why it is so important to use the right props and accessories, because if you don't, your image can still look like poop even if you have good lighting. The fact that there's relatively no shadows in my flatlays is my personal preference and something that is achievable for me with my current lighting situation. Do what works for you and use the right camera settings, whether you are shooting with a DSLR or a compact camera. My tip? Always boost the exposure.

The exposure on a camera is the little timeline of numbers where it says:

-2  -1  +/-0  +1  +2


- 2  1  0 1 2 +

Depending on which camera you use it will be different. On my compact camera I would boost it until it was in between +1 and +2, on my DSLR I boost it the same way or until +2. When it comes to taking advantage of natural lighting, a cloudy but bright sky is the best for me, I almost never 'use' the sunshine. It's too bright, too yellow for my taste and it also creates shadows. This girl however is someone who totally slays the flatlay scene when it comes to shadows and sunshine. Her name is Amelia and I really like her feed, if you check her out on Instagram tell her I say hi!

Like I said before: do what works for you, take inspiration and make your signature flatlays, people will start recognising your work from miles away!

Step 5: Photoshop Your Images

Last but not least photoshop! No blogger posts a picture on the gram without it being photoshopped or edited. I edit my pictures using Picmonkey, it's free and it works really well (yes I use the free version, I've never paid for Picmonkey a day in my blogging life and I love them for it). First step is to crop and sharpen your images, I always do. I've never uploaded an image without cropping some things out or sharpening it. Second: boost the exposure again! And step nr 3 is to touch up the areas in your image you still find too bright, too dark or simply want to blur making it look more dreamy. I will be writing a more extensive post on how I photoshop my images but these are the basics.

- Now you are ready to flatlay away! If you have any more questions about how I make my flatlays, leave them in the comments down below and don't forget to tag me in your images on Instagram @JolienNathalie! I would love to see what you come up with and what your signature flatlay looks like :)

Want to know what I do with my life besides blogging? Take a look on my Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat all at joliennathalie! I daily vlog, host self care parties, tour my house, cook, declutter, unbox PR packages and show exclusive behind the scenes footage! You're welcome ;)


  1. Enjoyed all the great tips you've mentioned.



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