I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate small business owners who are ready to scale and want to stand out online as local industry leaders.

I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic marketing imagery that are in line with your business goals.

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How to style and shoot flat lays with your phone

July 15, 2020

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Today, I’ll be sharing 3 steps to shoot beautiful flat lays with just your phone! I like to think of flat lays as on-brand “stock photography,” and you can easily create them at home with a few simple, affordable props.All of the photos in this post were created at home using my iPhone XS.

Flat lays are very well suited for phone photography because, well, they’re flat. Because of the 2-dimensional nature of these photos, you usually want everything in the photo to be in focus, and phone cameras are great for doing just that.

IGTV Video

Prefer video format? Watch it on IGTV below. The video is also captioned so that you can read everything I’m saying 😊

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Learn how to create beautiful, on-brand flat lays using simple, affordable props and your iPhone camera! 📱 Blog post with links to props: https://emilykimphotography.com/how-to-shoot-flat-lays/ As usual, the flowers in this shoot are from @katsfloweraffair 🌸 ——— GET ON THE WAITLIST FOR BRAND YOUR ‘GRAM: https://bit.ly/byg-waitlist If you’ve been loving these phone photography tutorials, then do I have something for YOU! 🤩 Brand Your ‘Gram is an online phone photography course for content creators and business owners! Whether you’re in-between brand photoshoot sessions, or are simply not ready to invest in your first brand shoot, you deserve to have the Instagram feed of your dreams. No stock photos required. 🥳 Doors open in August, but not for long! Get on the waitlist to be the first to know when it launches: https://bit.ly/byg-waitlist ——— #flatlaytips #flatlaydreams #goaldiggersociety #photographytipsandtricks #408creates #personalbrandingphotography #mobileshoot #mycreativebusiness #creativeladydirectory #contenttips #personalbrandphotography #personalbrandphotographer #smallbizowners #creativebizowner #bloggersunder10k #flatlaygoals #igbloggers #staybossyladies #creativepreneurs #bloggersunder5k #flatlayinspo #flatlaylove #bloggersofig #tilinsiders #girlbosstribe #flatlaystyle #risingtidesociety #growyourbusiness #fempreneur #sfbayarea

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flat lay with a brown hat, open book, and monstera leaf

1. Backdrops

There are 3 types of backdrops that I like to use:

  1. White poster board or foam core
  2. Contact paper, which I stick to the back of my poster board
  3. Painted wood – my favorites are MDF and particle board. I use craft paint and apply it with a roller. Using a roller is important so that you can get even, thin coats of paint.

pink flat lay with confetti and tropical leaves

2. Props

I’ve collected a variety of props over the years, but I always recommend starting with what’s already available to you in your home. Look for dish towels, blankets, pillows, and knick knacks that you can use as props.

Once you’ve exhausted everything in your home, it’s time to start adding to your prop collection! I shop for props at Michaels, Target (the dollar section), Joanns, the dollar store, and home goods shops like TJ Maxx. Here’s a list of ideas for you:

  • Fabric and textures. I recommend checking the remnants section at Joanns. These are “scraps” from the yard-sized rolls of fabric that are too short to be cut into full-sized pieces. They’re often marked down by 50% and more.
  • Wood blocks. I get mine from Michaels and paint them with craft paint.
  • Fake or real plants. I’ve purchased a few fake plants from this Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/dirtcouture
  • Vases, cups, and glasses. Dollar stores and Goodwill usually have interesting glassware at affordable prices.
  • Pens and office supplies.
  • Fresh or fake flowers. The flowers featured in this post are from Kat’s Flower Affair!
  • Confetti and party supplies. Stock up when they’re on clearance!

desk flat lay with a computer and writing in a journal

3. Styling your flat lays

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t really have any strict rules or processes when shooting flat lays. I pick a subject, pick some props, and move things around until they look good!

When choosing props, if you’re unsure of where to start, look for matching or complementary colors to your subject. If you’re shooting products, use product ingredients as inspiration for props. For example, if you’re shooting an apple pie scented candle, think about apple pie ingredients as props.

Some general tips that I keep in mind when shooting flat lays:

  • Use a reflector. Set up your scene next to a window and use a reflector to bounce light back into the scene. Not sure what a reflector is? Check out my Indoor Lighting series.
  • Tell a story. Choose your subject, and then build a scene around it.
  • Keep the rule of 3rds in mind. Turn on your grid in your camera settings. The rule of 3rds basically means that you should align your props and subject wherever the grid lines intersect, as this is what will be most pleasing to the eye.
  • Let props “bleed” out of the frame. I like to have props bleed off the edges, like how the plant leaves in the below image go off the frame. It helps to tell a story and leaves the viewer wanting more.

Have any questions for me about shooting flat lays? Leave them in the comments below!

how to style and shoot flat lays with your phone
  1. Alice says:

    Your post is really helpful. I want to start to shoot flat lays and the tips you share are great for it! Thank you!

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I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate small business owners who are ready to scale and want to stand out online as local industry leaders.

I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic marketing imagery that are in line with your business goals.

tell me more...

crowd faves

on the blog

Color Psychology for Photoshoots

5 Dream Bay Area Studio Rentals for Your Next Shoot

5 Tips for Optimizing Images on Your Website

How to Plan Outfits for Your Brand Photoshoot

goodies you'll love

Access My Free Resource Library

Branded Stock Photography at the EK Stock Shop

Free Preset for
Lightroom Mobile

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