8 Tips to Make an Instagram Flatlay

You ever see pictures like this on Instagram and you’re like “OOH, I can do that!” 
How to Instagram for BlogsAnd then you take the picture and you realize – “errmm- mine doesn’t look like that, how did she do that?” 

Well, today I’m going to share with you all the tips you need to take your Instagram flatlays to the next level! 


How to Make Flatlays on Instagram 

How to Instagram for Blogs

Shorts || Striped Top || Loren Hope Necklace || Purse || Wedges 

No. 1: Choose your Subject

What’s the highlight of the picture? Want to show off a new pair of shoes you got? Necklace? Loving stripes right now? Choose something to focus on and build an outfit around that item. I am a sucker for stripes and pink (hi this whole blog design) so I wanted to focus on keeping the picture simple (since stripes are busy enough) by not crowding it with too many accessories. To me, the top picture looks better than the second picture because it’s not over done with the addition of the cross-body purse

How to Instagram for Blogs

White Skirt (similar) || Button Up Chambray || Madewell Olive Green Jacket || Wedges || Market Bag || Necklace (similar) || Sunglasses


 

No. 02: Balance is Key

Make sure that you balance out large items with more dainty items so you don’t end up with a bundled mess. This green Madewell jacket is actually pretty boxy when laid down, so I tucked the sides into the waist (to give it a more hourglass shape as how it fits on my body) and paired it with a white mini skirt to make it more summer friendly. 

How to Instagram for Blogs

White Skirt (similar) || Button Up Chambray || Madewell Olive Green Jacket || Wedges || Market Bag || Necklace (similar) || Sunglasses

No. 03: Arrange and Re-Arrange 

I rarely take just one picture when I’m doing a flat lay. Sometimes I notice the picture causes a shadowy wrinkle, others may just look disproportionate, and some I just don’t like. So to make sure I get the perfect shot, I take multiple pictures while rearranging the items in the picture. You may notice from the first and the second, I ditched the sunglasses and moved the wedges to the left side of the picture to balance out the straw tote. This created much more symmetry for the eye and is, by marketing standpoints,  more appealing.

How to Instagram for BlogsNo. 04: Pick a Color Scheme

Colors can help evoke emotions, so pick a color that goes for the mood you are trying to convey. Summertime is all about blue hydrangeas (especially if you live on the East Coast), so these made the perfect statement color for the photo. To me, it screams: Totes Adorbs. 

How to Instagram for BlogsNo. 05: Only Shoot on Square Setting

The iPhone has an amazing feature where you can shoot on square setting, so why shoot on anything else? To me, shooting in square helps you prepare the scene in the appropriate frame that it’s going to be condensed down to when it goes to Instagram. Some will argue that having the whole picture present is great for being able to crop out things that don’t belong in the picture, but you can plan ahead and already shoot on square so you know you are getting the perfect shot each time. 

How to Instagram for BlogsNo. 06: Get High Above your Subject 

Nature graced me with height, so I don’t typically have to stand on a stool or my tippy toes to get enough height to capture the entire shot. But if you need, make sure you get enough height between you and your subject so that the entire focal point can be in the frame. Also the further away you are, the better chances you have to adjust the straightness of the photo without compromising the picture itself. 

No. 07: Only use Natural Light

Good lighting is hard to come by inside unless you’re willing to buy expensive lighting kits and setups. My favorite thing to do is take my subject outside in either early morning (between 7-8AM) or later at night (I took these photos at 8pm) right before the sun is setting. Anytime between then, you can’t shoot in direct sunlight or you may get odd shadows and extreme color saturation. So if you can, plan your outfits before hand, and then take the shots during the “golden hours”. If you still think the picture needs more “umph” after you’ve taken it, upload it to the app “PS Express” and adjust the brightness. For free this app has been as amazing as Photoshop without uploading it to your computer! I can’t recommend it enough! 
How to Instagram for Blogs

No. 08: Have a Neutral Background

The biggest game changer I have noticed between successful flatlays and unsuccessful ones were the backgrounds they laid on. Everyone wants that perfect white background or white marble for their photos, but marble is expensive and contact paper gets messy easily. When Fun Real Run Flooring sent me this patio rug in White Wash, I knew exactly that it was going to be the perfect background for instagram posts but especially it was going to liven up the dreary concrete patio we have in the backyard. The best thing about this rug is that it is machine washable and slip free. So when I want to bring this inside and be the “catch all” for dirt in the foyer, I don’t have to worry about our dog sliding it across the floor while running through the house and then I can pop it in the wash afterward! Plus doesn’t it look like real wood? I’m obsessed with how realistic it looks. 
How to Instagram for Blogs

Fun Flooring is a sister company to one of my other favorite brands, Scout Bags, so they love to have fun with pattern and prints! I love this navy and white stripe for the bathroom and if I had a beach house, I’d put this anchor print in every room. Want your own rug? Hurry and get 15% off your purchase with checkout code DARLING*DEAL. Offer code ends Friday July 17th! 

 

xoxo- Cynthia

Author: Cynthia

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  • I had no idea that was a rug that you’ve been using! What a great idea. This was such a helpful post for me. I have absolutely no eye for composition (Matt helps with that) when the items aren’t on a person. Love!

    • Yep! I was trying to keep it a secret until this post went live, but it’s a rug! And it’s worth EVERY PENNY. Make sure you enter the giveaway and you could win one!

  • I’ve tried to do flatlays, and mine definitely never turn out this pretty! I love the textured background of your picnic table. I need one of those! Great tips, and thank for the giveaway!

  • This is a great post, I definitely don’t feel like I am very good at taking these pretty arranged instagram pictures. Just need to keep trying, thanks for the tips 🙂

  • I can’t believe that’s a rug! I’ve been trying to find a good background for while, but no luck until I saw this. Thanks for the amazingly helpful flatlay tips, really. Tried googling it once, but nothing useful came up. I’m so glad I found your blog! Crossing my fingers for the giveaway 🙂

    • I can’t believe that’s a rug! I’ve been trying to find a good background for while, but no luck until I saw this. Thanks for the amazingly helpful flatlay tips, really. Tried googling it once, but nothing useful came up. I’m so glad I found your blog! Crossing my fingers for the giveaway 🙂

      (sorry for a repeat comment, my blog URL wasn’t right)

  • Great tips! Natural lighting & a good background are always good. Those are the things I need to work on with my photos, clothing or not!

  • Seriously the coolest concept. I followed all of the directions and entered in every way possible. I need one of these faux wood rugs!

  • Hi Cynthia, I just came across this wonderful post about flatlays and the secret weapon!! Never in a million years would I have though that was a rug!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us 🙂 Quick question – is the size you have linked (23” by 36”) the one you actually have? It looks pretty spascious from you pictures above but I just wanted to confirm that it is a good size for flat lays in general? Sometimes I find myself in need of extra room to spread out the clothes and what not. Thanks again 🙂

  • Hi Cynthia, I just came across this wonderful post about flat lays and the secret weapon!! Never in a million years would I have though that was a rug!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us 🙂 Quick question – is the size you have linked (23” by 36”) the one you actually have? It looks pretty spacious from you pictures above but I just wanted to confirm that it is a good size for flat lays in general? Sometimes I find myself in need of extra room to spread out the clothes and what not. Thanks again 🙂

  • Hi! I’m so glad I found your blog and I love your tips you shared. I would like to know, what size is your rug that you used in this post?