How To Create Beautiful Flatlay Photos

On Instagram Live [Year of Me Challenge Video 2], I mentioned I would do a post on where to find products to beautify your flatlay photos for Instagram, so here we are. My first post in months.

To simplify everything, I’ve created an Amazon store that you can access here [AMAZON STORE] or in my bio on Instagram [@michellekennethpw]. In the store, look under “As Seen on Instagram – Backgrounds.” I added everything I spoke about in the video from pretty giftwrap paper to the foam boards to the photography background paper.

For those who were not able to see the video, that’s what this post is for. I’m going to share my tips on how to create the beautiful flatlay photos you see of food, books and various other products. Believe me, those gorgeous flatlay photos against gorgeous wooden floors are not really wooden floors.

Flatlay Photos Tip One: Giftwrap Paper

When I first started out doing flatlays, I used a lot of gift wrap paper I picked up from places like Paper Source or Papyrus. They have an array of beautiful one sheet paper that ranges anywhere between $5-$12 per sheet. Since I’m a lover of paper products, I would sometimes go in and peruse their selection, looking for the perfect backgrounds to use. It was my treat to self because the paper was just so beautiful.

Even something as simple as paint splattered on craft paper created interesting backgrounds for photos. While you could probably make this yourself at home, I’m not that talented. I purchased this from one of the Makers on Amazon.

One of the benefits to double-sided paper is that sometimes when you need just a blank background, but with texture, it serves as a perfect backdrop so you can add your own extras in the photo.


Tip Two: Photography Background Paper

Ever wonder how people got their floors so immaculately clean EVERY SINGLE TIME they took photos using their floors as a backdrop? Or did you ever think, wow, they have incredible marble countertops? I swear I did every single time. Imagine my surprise when I learned their secret.

They were using Photography Background Paper.

There are various different floor backdrops out there. Most sheets of photography background paper are double-sided with two different backgrounds on each side. Costs for these sheets can range between $11 for a single double-sided sheet to $20-$40 for 2-4 sheets.

You can even find backdrops that can serve as a wall for pictures where you need a wall background for book stacks or just a clean back drop for regular non-flatlay photos.

They even have concrete floors for a more intriguing contrast.

I mean, have you ever seen a concrete floor so clean that you could eat off of it???

My favorite backgrounds though are for those who post about food. Not everyone is blessed with marble countertops. Yet, there’s a way to fake it.

For those who like a more wintry or darker background, they do have black marble countertop paper to use. I am considering trying the darker side of food photography later this year, but it might also work for those Instagram feeds that are a bit on the darker side.

Tip Three: Scrapbook Paper

I am relatively new to this tip. @notinjersey (Dara) was using a background I absolutely loved, so I asked her where she got her photography backdrop paper. Imagine my surprise when she shared it was scrapbook paper.

Scrapbook paper comes in varying sizes. I recommend getting the 12×12 (or larger, if that exists) for your flatlay needs. Each package contains 2 sheets each of multiple backgrounds. This may be the most cost efficient method for those just starting out or those who want to not invest a lot of money into this. I bought two packages of scrapbook paper and it cost a little less than $6 each.

For this photo for The Photographer, I used two sheets from the package I purchased.

In this photo, I am using only one sheet of the scrapbook paper.

Tip Four: The Extras for Flatlay Photos

For this tip, I want to give a shoutout to @stephsbooktherapy for this little tip. Go to her Instagram for a tutorial on how to use foam boards with your photography background paper (Tip Two).

I purchased two of the largest foam boards I could find on Amazon, but it ended up being too small. Steph informed me she had to get hers custom cut to fit the actual size of the photography background paper.

So since I’m stuck with these two boards that don’t fit my paper, I started using them for something else. I use them as a flat surface for photos. I can still lay the paper down on top of it or binder clip one side and tuck the corners down underneath my couch cushions (or have Matthew sit on one side of it to keep the corners from curling).

Since these are white boards, they can also help serve as a way to soften the photo or refract the light to brighten the photo. Just position the white board outside of the frame. You’ll be able to see the difference. Find the right spot with the light and then take your photo.

In the photo above, Matthew is sitting on the white board. You see how it brightened up the photo and gave him a softer look? No filter or adjustment was needed.

Truthfully, yes you can live without these boards, but if you’re serious about this, I think it’s worth buying a couple, or even getting them custom cut to fit the photography backdrops. It will just make your life easier when you go to photograph your flatlays. For Steph, she uses one board to create the wall, and the other to create the floor.

Here’s the shop [AMAZON] where you can find everything I’ve referenced in this post, including the white boards. You will not be able to find the actual gift wrap paper I’ve used in Tip One. I’ve listed similar items in the shop. If you love paper as much as I do, I recommend Paper Source and Papyrus to view their handmade collection.