Introduction: Flat Lays in Food Photography

Flat lays in food photography are photographs taken from a 90 degree angle of the main subject (in this case the food). Flat lays allow the viewers to look at the entirety of the food, and give them a sharp, clear look at the detail in the food. When taking flat lays in food photography there are a few simple steps that you should follow. This type of photography is not hard and with some practice you will be able to take beautiful looking flat lays in no time.

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed for flat lays in food photography:
- Camera
- Natural or artificial lighting (white light preferably)
- Food

- Plates
- Bowls
- Fabrics
- Silverware

Step 2: Set Up Your Shot

When taking flat lays it is crucial to have your composition and balance just right. You want to make the image look appealing to the viewer, and by having your composition and balance on point it will accomplish that.

The composition should be the way you want it to look, if you notice anything you don’t like, change it! Having all kinds of bowls, plates, placemats, silverware, and fabrics in your photograph will give your image a story to tell. More importantly it will keep the viewer engaged in the photograph, and keep them thinking of what is going on in the image.

Blance is also a very important component when shooting flat lays, it will help give the image a realistic look. For instance, having a fork and spoon with a placemat on the left side of the image, and a bowl with food and fabrics on the right side of the image would be considered a well balanced photograph. Try to stay away from loading your image with all of the props and food on one side, and leaving the other side empty. This will make your image have a lot of negative space.

Step 3: Use Natural Lighting

By utilizing studio or natural light when taking your food flat lays is essential for the fact that it will give you a nice soft image. Never use yellow lighting, as it will be very harsh on the food and will make your final photograph not look as good.

If you don’t have access to a studio or all kind of professional lights, don’t worry! You can find this natural, soft light at home. Just look for a window in your house and set up your shot next or close to it. Adjust how much natural light you want in your image by blocking out some of that light depending on if you want a darker feel, or on the other hand a brighter feel.

Step 4: Editing Your Final Images

After you have taken several images and chosen your favorite ones, it’s time to edit them. Editing can be tricky sometimes, but when you get the hang of it your images can only look better. Lightroom is great for editing your images, on a desktop it may be a bit difficult at first because there’s so much to remember and do. However, you can get Lightroom on your phone for free, and it’s a easier to edit there.

When editing food flat lays or food in general it is important to up the exposure just a little bit on the image. Food looks much more appealing when brighter and will bring out all of the small details in the food. I personally also really like to bring the clarity up a good amount. Clarity is so powerful and will bring out the detail and texture in your image tremendously. It is a great setting to adjust to make your images look great. Lastly, I like to adjust the color balance of my images as well, this setting in particular will correct highlights, midtones, and shadows. This may vary if you took your images on a cloudy day (same as studio light), compared to a sunny day.