How to take amazing an flatlay on your phone for under $30

If you've been on Instagram or Facebook, chances are you've seen a flat lay (even if you didn't know what it was called!) A flat lay is a beautifully styled photo, taken from above usually on a white, marble or otherwise neutral background. You might be mistaken for thinking that to take a beautiful flat lay you need a studio, a big budget and a fancy camera - but you would be wrong!! Today I decided to whip up a DIY flat lay studio on a budget - $30 to be exact! You don't have to spend a lot of money or even have a fancy camera to take beautiful photos - and here is how!

Taking a fantastic photo really is ALL about light. It doesn't matter how perfectly set up you are or how beautiful your subject is, if you don't have the right light your photo wont work. 

As a natural light photographer, I very rarely use any artificial light - in fact the only time you will see me with a flash on my camera is at an evening event or wedding reception!

So how do you do it? Here's what you will need:

- 2 pieces of foam board (I got mine from Big W for $10 a piece)
- 1 piece of poster board/card (Also from Big W, $2.50)
- Sticky tape/masking tape
- Scissors


Now I've made my set up fairly small, as I generally only shoot smaller items/stationary etc for my flat lays. If you have larger items to shoot, just grab some more board and you can make a larger reflector.

First up, turn one of your pieces of foam board sideways (horizontal) and cut it in half down the middle. I just measured mine roughly and drew a line to cut down, but if you're fussy you can measure the exact centre first :)

Don't worry too much if the edges are a bit rough - you wont see them in your photos so it doesn't matter! 

Next, attach your two smaller pieces of board to the short edges of your larger piece (the one you didnt cut) with sticky tape or masking tape. 

Set yourself up close to a window or door. You want it to be nice and light, but not with direct sunlight coming in as this will create too many shadows. Make sure all the lights are off - artificial light will confuse the white balance and make the colours look wrong (especially the white)

Now just set up your flatlay on your white background - or mix it up with marble, fur or another interesting texture! Cute stationary & notebooks are always great to use. Ribbon, flowers, food, tea & coffee also make great subjects. Spend some time getting your placement right, move things around and take photos of everything set up in different ways - you can always delete them later! Place your reflector around your set up so that it is facing the window, this way the light will bounce off your white background and help fill out the shadows. Here is where I have mine set up - no fancy studio, no lights, just a little living room window surrounded by mess from a toddler (I cropped the mess out, no body needs to see that ;) )

This first photo is taken without the reflector, just a white background with window light.  As you can see there are some serious shadows, and the white background looks quite yellow.

This next shot was taken with the reflector, and a couple of tweaks on the instagram app (brightness, saturation & shadows) Both of these photos were taken on my Iphone 6s plus, so the only difference is the reflector! 


And just for the sake of comparison - this third shot was taken with my Canon 5D MkIII and a 50mm lense, with no editing.

So there you have it! You don't have to be a photographer or spend a fortune to take beautiful photos, you just need to know the tricks and how to make the light work for you! 

Make sure you leave a comment if you use my DIY, or if you have any questions or suggestions for future tutorials you'd like to see! 

Sarah x