Flatlays are the current hot trend in the industry. They look so professional on social media posts. They provide a beautiful way to document paper goods. You may be asking, what is a flatlay anyway? Or if you are like me you call them “layflats” ha. A flatlay is just an image where you have items (anything really) laying flat on a flat surface and you are shooting from above them. Here are a few tips to get beautiful flatlay images at the next wedding you photograph. These are so wonderful to have for the bride and groom’s album, your marketing, getting published, and to share with the vendors that provided the details for the wedding.
Prepare the bride-Most brides don’t know how long it takes to take these kinds of photographs (or even that you are going to take them at all in most cases). Help the bride create a timeline that gives you enough time to get these shots. I request at least 30 minutes at the beginning of the day, while the bride is getting ready. I know many photographers who ask for 1-2 hours for it. Also request that the bride put together a bag of details for you with any details she wants photographed like the rings, ring boxes, extra florals/ribbon, shoes, perfume, garter, jewelry, 2 sets of invitations (so you can get the front and back at the same time) etc
Find the right light- I love shooting flatlays next to a big window of natural light. Sometimes it is next to a door or in open shade. Other times you have to setup off camera flash to bounce so you have even light. In any case you will want to turn off any ceiling lights as they will mix your lighting colors (ew) and also cast your shadow onto your photo (ew ew).
Bring your own details- I don’t like to bring too much because I pride myself on documenting the couple’s love story, not creating a fake wedding for a magazine. I bring a styling board (then usually put that under the wedding dress or bridesmaids dress). I bring plain, light wooden hangers for the bridal gown and bridesmaids dresses (they usually forget and just have the ugly metal wire hanger it came on), as well as a stick on wall hanger so I can hang up the dresses wherever I want. I know many photographers that bring ring boxes, ribbon, and various linens to play with.
Florals bring it to life- Hopefully the florist can give you some scrap florals to play with. You can request that as well as they deliver the bouquet and boutineers early so you can photograph them. If there are no florals, I go pick some from outside somewhere. They make a HUGE difference.
Add dimension with layers-For paper goods you can separate them by placing a lens cap underneath them or a small book. The layers make it look more 3D and is more pleasing to the eye.
Smaller Aperture (higher number)- I like to shoot flatlays around f11. You want all of the words on the paper to be in focus so it is much better to use a more narrow aperture for flatlays.
Hope that helps! What tips do you have to share, please comment below!