I think the thing that helps my blog and social media feeds stand out most are my photos. I try to maintain an Instagram feed that is clear, colorful, and cohesive.
I get a lot of compliments on my flat lay photography, and people often want to know how I do them. I’m spilling all my secrets. Here are some tips for taking the perfect Instagram photo with your phone.
Use natural lighting
I take all my photos during the morning or early afternoon. That is the time when the best lights is coming into my living room. While natural lighting is better than any flash or fluorescent light, it does have its cons. For example, on the days I work it means I don’t have a post if I haven’t done one ahead of time. That’s because I’m at work during the time I usually take my picture. But I can usually get away with reposting an older post on those occasions.
Backdrops – The cheap and easy way
Uniformity is maintained on my feed not only be the layout of my photos, but by my use of backgrounds. Here’s the secret, this can be done simply, and affordably by using poster board or tile squares. They come in a variety of colors and are pretty cheap to replace when they’re worn out. I use these pieces of Eucaboard I had cut at The Home Depot, and painted them with regular interior paint. I was able to choose which colors I wanted. This takes a little more time than poster board, but my boards are more durable. Then, I sit them on top of a $20 IKEA side table, right in front of my living room window.
Choose your props
I incorporate items around my house for pretty much all my photos. Most items are things I pick up for cheap in the dollar section of Target. They change things out often based on different seasons or Holidays, so I’m able to freshen up my collection of props often. And don’t worry about repeating items. Mixing and matching props makes things look like new. And honestly, most people aren’t going to remember you had that stapler in your post last Wednesday.
Let’s lay it all out there
Alright, the sun is shining, you’ve got your backdrop, and have picked your props. Now it’s time for the fun part. I can lay out props in an aesthetically pleasing way in my sleep at this point. But it’s really all about trial and error. I try to stick to four props as my magic number. It creates a photo that is neither overwhelming or empty. I also like a mixture of sizes, shapes, or patterns, like the photos below. Move things around, turn them, stand over your layout as if you’re about to take your photo and see how it FEELS to your eye. That’s most likely how other people will feel when they look at it.
Taking the photo: Portrait, landscape, square?
Now that you’ve done all the heavy lifting, you’re ready to take the picture. Flat lays are shot as if we’re looking at all the cool stuff we laid out. I stand right in front of my end table/backdrop setup. The setting you use depends on how you want your photo to look. You will likely never use portrait for these photos. I tend to stick with the landscape or square settings on my iPhone. I usually take between four and five versions of the photo, experimenting with angles, and moving props around.
Touch up and post
There are so many functional (and free) phone apps that make editing photos simple. A few of my favorites include PicsArt, Snapseed, and even the editing features in Instagram. The touch up stage is where I brighten my images, remove shadows, increase saturation, and usually apply my favorite Instagram filter – Clarendon. It’s what gives all my photos the same look. Once you’re pleased with your photo, go ahead and post or publish!
Here’s an example before and after a few edits:
That’s it. Simple and affordable hacks to take your social media feeds to a new level. Did you try it? Let me know how it went!
What other blog how-to’s would you be interested in seeing?