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Category: Products & Flat Lays
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The Ultimate Guide to Flat Lay Photography

Flat lay photography has become one of the biggest trends of the last 5 years. Even if you haven’t heard of the term “flat lay”, you will have most definitely seen them.

Flat lays are meticulously arranged items photographed from above.

They became popular with food and lifestyle bloggers, but they are perfect for any brand whether you are service or product-based business.

The reason I believe flat lays have been, and still are so popular is that psychologically, we find beauty in simplicity.

When items are in perfect alignment, our brain engages a wide range of cognitive, emotion and memory circuits, which leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction.

Flat lay photography have been very popular for shooting product and lifestyle imagery.

The key factor is that they are extraordinarily simple to work with, and the minimalist staging is well suited to modern web design.

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Why I love flat lay photography

I personally love flat lay photography. They are so much fun to create, style and shoot!

The sheer convenience of creating a flat lay shouldn’t be underestimated.

Anyone with a camera, a flat surface and a few props can make a fantastic looking flat lay.

With the rise of independent online brands, this has given start-up and small businesses a leg up in terms of creating content that looks professional and is visually appealing.

So, where to start and how to create the perfect flat lay. Here, I will be revealing all.

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The Flat Lay Photography Formula

Preparation

Like most things in life, the prep work is always the longest part of the process.

Spend some time getting inspiration for your image and source props that complement your product.

Flat lays are a visual story so think about the objects that relate to your hero product and how they relate.

You want to give yourself a number of different options, so make sure you have lots of different props just in case something doesn’t quite work out when you’re shooting.

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Lighting is key! 

Before you start shooting, first you have to consider the light. How are you photographing your flat lay? Are you using natural light or a flash? 

Living in the UK can be an issue as sunlight is not always guaranteed. However, if you have a flash/strobe lights, you can create beautiful light that can be used at any time of the day.

What I really love about flash is it produces a consistent light. When I need to shoot multiple images for a brand, it’s crucial that my pictures all look cohesive with one another. 

The next question is what kind of light are you looking for?

Are you looking for beautiful soft light, or are you looking to create an image with glossy reflections and hard shadows?

How hard or soft your light depends on two main factors:

  • Distance. The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.
  • Size of the light source. The larger the source, the softer it becomes.

Soft Light

Soft light wraps around objects, creating beautifully diffused shadows with feathered edges.

Think about the sunlight on an overcast day. The clouds act as a giant softbox, bouncing and spreading the light, so there are barely any shadows.

Soft lighting creates a beautiful ethereal look to your images, which is relaxing to the eye.

Hard Light

Hard light cast crisp, well-defined shadows and glossy reflections. If a hard light source hits a textured surface at an angle, it will accentuate all the details in an object, giving a 3D-appearance.

You might want to use hard light if you’re going to cast reflections of liquid in a glass, create crisp leaf shadows or provide a glossy look to your products.

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Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio, otherwise known as crop ratio, is a proportional relationship between an image’s width and height.

In simple terms, it describes an image’s shape. Usually, aspect ratios are written as a formula of width to height, i.e. 3:2, 4:3. For example, a square image has an aspect ratio of 1:1, since the height and width are the same.

Depending on how you want to use the image, i.e. Instagram, web banner, you need to shoot accordingly. It’s essential to know how the image will be cropped before you begin shooting. 

For example, if you’re shooting a square image for Instagram, you know you need to make sure that all your props fit within the square, so nothing important gets cropped out at the end.

You may find that you can take one shot that will work in a variety of different aspect ratios, but it’s always useful to have the back of your mind.

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Composition

The composition is a crucial factor when creating a stunning flat lay.

I always begin by playing the hero product down first and then add in objects one by one to see how each item affects the overall image.

Doing it this way gives you more control over how the picture comes together.

Depending on your objects, you can arrange them in a straight line, grid, follow the rule of thirds.

Unless you are creating symmetry, stick with odd numbers in your composition. Odd numbers of objects create visual interest.

Rather than placing all of your objects in the centre of the shot with a border of negative space surrounding them, I love arranging props so that they overflow out of the frame.

Doing so creates intrigue and encourages you to feel as though you see a snippet of a larger scene, engaging the viewer’s imagination to think beyond the frame.

Remember to allow space between each object to keep, so the image doesn’t look cluttered.

You can create balance by using small objects with larger objects and using similar colours on both sides of the picture.

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Text/Graphics 

If you want to add text or graphics in post-production, remember to leave some space. 

This is especially useful if you are looking to create an ad. You could add your logo or branding. If you’re going for an inspiration look, you could use a quote. 

I always use Canva to add text to my images.

Colour Scheme 

I believe less is always more with colour. By sticking to no more than three colours or using a variety of tones from only one colour, you’ll make images that really catch the eye.

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Layering

Layering is a great way to add depth to your frame if it’s looking flat. You can create depth by stacking different sized objects such as books, plates, trays etc. and placing your main subject on top.

For even more depth, you could add in a piece of material such as cloth, towel or scarf to create added depth and texture.

Props

I always recommend using props to compliment your product, business or brand.

For example, if you are selling a beauty product, you may want to think about the ingredients in the product.

The other option is to use props that you would associate with the product. If you were shooting a body scrub, you might want to include a body brush and a moisturiser, for example.

When I photographed pigments for the cosmetic company, Shades of London, I used makeup brushes around the product.

Whether you are running short on some prop ideas, these 101 flat lay props will seriously help you to up your flat lay photography game in no time. 

  1. Notebook
  2. Pen
  3. Laptop
  4. Keyboard
  5. Mouse
  6. Phone
  7. Books
  8. Quotes
  9. Gift Box
  10. Calendar
  11. Printable Lists
  12. Photo Prints
  13. Scrabble Letters
  14. Clock
  15. Glitter
  16. Paint
  17. Pens/Pencils
  18. String
  19. Frames
  20. Scissors
  21. Planner
  22. Magazines
  23. Candles
  24. Camera
  25. Tray
  26. Confetti
  27. Fold back clips
  28. Newspaper
  29. Ornaments
  30. Ribbon
  31. Paper Clips
  32. Postcards
  33. Magnifying Glass
  34. Map
  35. Passport
  36. Globe
  37. Compass
  38. Sunglasses
  39. Business Cards
  40. Leaflets
  41. Brochures
  42. Fresh flowers
  43. Petals
  44. Greenery
  45. Tea/Coffee
  46. Teapot
  47. Teacups
  48. Coffee Mug
  49. Water Bottle
  50. Soft Drink
  51. Straws
  52. Cakes
  53. Sweets
  54. Coconut
  55. Macrons
  56. Doughnuts
  57. Fruit
  58. Eggs
  59. Coffee Beans
  60. Honey Drizzler
  61. Wooden Tea Spoon
  62. Spices
  63. Vegetables
  64. Chopping Board
  65. Spices
  66. Kitchen Utensils
  67. Chocolate
  68. Hand Bag
  69. Shopping Bag
  70. Hat
  71. Suncream
  72. Moisturiser
  73. Natural Sponge
  74. Flannel
  75. Soap
  76. Body Scrub
  77. Perfume
  78. Nail Varnish
  79. Makeup Brushes
  80. Lipstick
  81. Foundation
  82. Bronzer
  83. Eye Shadow Palette
  84. False Lashes
  85. Eyelash Curlers
  86. Makeup Bag
  87. Hair Brush
  88. Straighteners
  89. Curling Wand
  90. Fake tan
  91. Rings
  92. Bracelets
  93. Earrings
  94. Necklace
  95. Watch
  96. Shoes
  97. Dresses
  98. Tops
  99. Trousers
  100. Jumpers
  101. Knitwear

 

Having a prop box drawer with some of the essential props is a great way to gain inspiration, and you’ll probably find that you already have a good majority of the things on this list too!

For props I don’t already have, I tend to check out Amazon for interesting props and accessories. 

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Cosmetic product photography for Shades of London

Recent cosmetic product photography for Shades of London. Shades of London is a cosmetic brand that has a range of stunning, high-quality eyeshadow pigments. They required a number of images for their social content as well as the eCommerce website.

If you own or market a cosmetic brand, you want to start thinking about how your audience interacts with your audience. Do you they come directly to your website, stumble across you on Instagram or see an ad targeted to them on Facebook?

If you understand how your audience interacts with each type of platform, it’s easier to make decisions on the kind of images you need for your brand and where to use them.

 

download branding workbook
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Cosmetic Packshot Photography

Cosmetic packshots are images of your product taken against a white or coloured background.

Packshots are perfect for eCommerce listing. They’re a brilliant way to show your audience the product without any distractions.

They showcase the product so your customer can see what they are purchasing.

For cosmetic products, your customers must be able to read the labels.

At this stage of the buying process, you want to make things as clean and clear as possible to increase your conversion rates.

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Makeup Flat Lat Photography

Styled flat lays, or creative advertising shots are a brilliant way to create a story using other objects that relate to your product.

We are drawn to images that are styled in some way.

When we see something we consider to look beautiful, it fires up our memory, emotion and cognitive circuits.

It leaves us feeling satisfied. As humans, we love order, and we particularly like things to be arranged in a certain way.

So naturally, flat lays work well in piquing our interest and striking a connection. These images are great for facebook and instagram ads.

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Cosmetic Lifestyle Product Photography

Lifestyle images are photos taken in situ to show how you could use a product.

For most cosmetic brands, this may mean using a model applying the makeup to their skin.

You could also place the makeup product on a dressing table or in a bathroom.

Lifestyle images are also a great way to show your customers your brand style – are you luxury, eco-friendly, functional?

For more tips, check out my Beauty Product Photography Guide 2020.

The more you relate to your customers, the more they will feel connected to your brand.

In turn, they are more likely to buy from you. Use these images as web banners and on your social media to build your brand identity.

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What is the process of shooting cosmetic product photography?

Creative Brief & Consultation
  1. Initially, I will send out a creative brief to get to know your brand. I need to understand what your values are, who your target market is, and the purpose of your new images. I’m a details girl, and I believe the more you know, the better the result will be. There is no point shooting imagery that does not speak to your target market. 
  2. Once I have your creative brief, I’ll then put together a moodboard based on your target market and brand identity. Putting together images for inspiration helps me get my creative juices flowing and gives you an insight into the kind of images I will be creating for you. We’ll schedule a consultation to go through the moodboard, and then begin working on the shot list. Shot lists are essential to make sure I don’t forget anything when I shoot.
  3. While you are packaging up your product to send to me, I’ll source any props and backgrounds you may need for your photoshoot. Every cosmetic product photoshoot is different and what makes them unique is the styling and the props we use. Can you imagine if every shot used the same prop and background? It would get very dull, very quickly! Props are a fantastic way to style your products in a fun and exciting way.
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Shoot & Edit
  1. Once I have received your product(s), I’ll get shooting. Each image is styled and prepped by me. I clean each product and remove any imperfections before I take the photo to minimise the amount of dust or imperfections on the product. If your product is a bottle with a clear label, I always suggest providing empty bottles and labels separately. Clear labels are the hardest to shoot as they tend to create tiny bubbles under the surface. To get around this, I often photograph the bottle without a label and then photoshop it in later, giving a beautiful finish to the image. 
  2. When I have photographed all your cosmetic products, I begin editing each image. Pretty much all cosmetic products have a pigment to them. When customers buy makeup products online, such as foundations, eye shadows, lipsticks, blushers, bronzers etc. they are relying on the images to give an accurate colour likeness. Colour grading is, therefore, an essential part of the editing process to reduce the number of returns.
  3. Your images will then be uploaded to a private online gallery for you to proof before sending over the final pictures. All photographs are provided in high and low resolution, for both print and web, respectively. 
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Book your cosmetic product photoshoot today. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. 

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Beauty Product Photography Guide 2020

The complete guide to beauty product photography for entrepreneurs and business owners. Get all the inside scoop on what makes an image convert and all the latest product photography trends in 2020. 

Beauty Product Trends

The beauty and wellness industry has been taking the world by storm. Furthermore, the UK is among the three leading cosmetic consumers in Western Europe, reaching a market value of £9.6 billion.

Here are some of the five biggest trends we have seen in 2020 so far:

Clean Beauty

We’ve seen considerable shifts in clean beauty. Skincare and cosmetic products are going green. Sustainable packaging and products was a key trend in 2019, but demand for full transparency is the key theme for 2020.

From the ingredients to the packaging, if sustainability isn’t at the forefront of your marketing, you may well get left behind.

Heath & Beauty Fusion

The health and beauty worlds are merging, and with the rise of vegan beauty and the CBD market, it’s going to be bigger than ever.

Hyper Personalisation

It’s not just the packaging that you can now personalise. Advancements in beauty technology now customise products. Swabs can test for DNA and bacterial analysis to advise customers on which products will be most suited to their genetic makeup.

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Indie-Brands

The rise of indie brands is challenging big corporations by creating tailored solutions to unique problems identified by their consumers.

Independent beauty brands are encouraging more creativity and entrepreneurship in the industry.

Direct To Consumer

With the decline of major retailers, independent beauty brands have a huge opportunity to take advantage of their ability to sell directly to their consumers.

Indie brands with strong branding, clear messaging, and modern strategies will pave the way for the direct-to-consumer beauty brands of the future.

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What is beauty product photography?

Beauty product photography is a type of commercial photography specialising in cosmetic, skincare, haircare, makeup, fragrance, tools and applicators.

Compelling beauty product photography showcases your products. By using high-quality images you can drive conversions based on the perceived value of your products.

Why you need compelling photography for your beauty products?

High-quality product photographs help to:

  • increase conversions
  • lower return rate
  • decrease cart abandonment rate
  • boost time on page
  • increase click-through rates (CTR)

It’s clear to see that the ROI for every pound invested in professionally executed product photography is one of the highest in digital marketing.

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What kind of product images do you need?

Packshot Photography

Packshots are product photographs typically used for eCommerce sites. Usually, packshots are products photographed against a white or coloured background.

ECommerce platforms such as Amazon, Shopify, eBay and Etsy all require products photography on a white background.

Images with white backgrounds keep pages looking clean and easy to navigate. They are also lower in size as there is less information in the photograph. The smaller the image, the faster the web page will load.

Site speed is fundamental for commerce websites and platforms in terms of SEO and conversion rates.

Having a coloured background could be detrimental if companies like Amazon were to lose a millisecond in page loading speed.


On the other hand, coloured backgrounds are perfect for complimenting brand colour palettes, making an impact on social media, and creating striking imagery for glossy magazines.

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Flat Lay Photography

A flat lay is an image shot directly from above, often styled with props around a hero product. Not only do they showcase the product, it’s a simple but effective way to tell a story.

Another benefit of a flat lay is their versatility and reducing production costs. If you have a tight budget, you don’t need to spend money on locations, models, hair and makeup etc. You only need a background and the props to accompany the product.

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Lifestyle Product Photography

Lifestyle product photography illustrates the purpose of a product and how a potential client may use it.

To create a lifestyle product photo, you need to shoot on-location or create a style scene, often with the use of models.

Lifestyle product images are an excellent way for a brand to sell the experience of using their product. It also promotes a specific lifestyle or aesthetic that will speak to their target market.


With both flat lay and lifestyle imagery, both can also promote and up-sell other products in the brand’s range.

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Creative Advertising Photography

Advertising photography captures a particular mood, emotion or feeling that a product can elicit in a viewer. The sole purpose of the shot is to create a need for the viewer to buy the product.

It’s the job of the photographer to tell a captivating story using stylised images, lighting and colours.

Advertising product photography uses advanced retouching and editing skills. Usually, I photograph multiple images to create a composite (layered photo) to produce a truly eye-catching image.

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How to optimise images for your store

These three significant features will help you boost your SEO and conversion rates.

File Size

Some interesting facts:

  • Almost 50% of consumers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for an eCommerce site to load.
  • Google uses page load time as a ranking factor in its algorithm.
  • Amazon discovered that if their pages were to slow down by just one second, they would lose $1.6 billion a year.

So, what can you do?

There is always a balance between having stunning high-quality product imagery while also achieving fast page speeds.

I have done extensive research and have found that the sweet spot for having beautiful imagery while maintaining fast site speeds.

If you have Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you can use the export or Save For Web feature so save down your images.

Alternatively, other online image editing tools will resize your images for you.

As a photographer, it’s super important that I maintain incredible detail in my photos without grounding my site to a halt. I’ve found a good rule of thumb is to try to keep image file sizes below 70 kb.

In some cases, this may not be possible, but I try my best to keep the size as small as possible. You can do this by lowering the quality of the image to around 60/70%.

I also resize my pictures to a specific dimension that is suited to my web page.

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File Format

The three common file types that you can use to post images to the web. These are JPEG, GIF, and PNG. However, when choosing file types, it’s important to remember the following:

For eCommerce images, JPEGs will be your best option. They provide the best quality for the smallest file size.

Never use GIFs for big product images. The file size will be too big, and there is not an easy way to reduce it. Only use GIFs for thumbnails and decorative images only.

PNGs can be an excellent alternative to JPEGs and GIFS. If you can only get product photos in PNG format, try using PNG-8 over PNG-24.

File Naming

Using relevant keywords will help improve your SEO ranking. Creating descriptive, keyword-rich file names is vital for image optimisation.

Not only do search engines such as Google, crawl the text on your webpage, they also crawl your image file names.

It’s also crucial to use descriptive titles to the ALT tags. ALT attributes are the text alternative when an image doesn’t load on a page.

The alt attribute is a crucial feature when trying to improve your SEO ranking. It’s also the best way for your eCommerce products to show up in Google image searches.

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Why I love shooting beauty product photographs

I love showing the beauty in a product. I enjoy working with companies with innovative new products, stunning designs, beautiful colour schemes, materials, textures and personality.

I have this deep-rooted need to create. So when I have a product to shoot, it lights up all my creative cells. I love the creative process, from conceptualising to shooting.

As a beauty and wellness consumer myself, I always think about what I like to see and what attracts me to buy certain products.

In a male-dominated industry, I think this gives me a considerable edge. I know what works and what doesn’t and I know my target market inside out.

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I know what women want

Women want to look and feel younger, slimmer and more attractive. We’re also more than just the way we look. We want to be heard.

Every time I shoot, I treat the product as if it were my own. The perfectionist in me has been my strength and weakness over the years.


However, in product photography, it has always been my greatest strength, and I will not stop until I am entirely happy with the results.

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How to book a beauty product photoshoot?

Booking a product photoshoot is simple.

  1. We’ll first jump on a creative call to discuss your product. We’ll get clear on your ideal client, visual identity and branding. Next, we’ll create a mood board, and we’ll get into the specifics to make sure we both have the same vision.
  2. Once we have a concept for your product, all you need to do is package up your products and send them to me while I’ll source your backgrounds and props.
  3. I’ll take care of the photography, styling and editing of your products. Once the images are finalised, I’ll then send your images via WeTransfer in both full and social size, so you’re all set to show to them off to the world!
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Beauty Product Photography Studio Near London

I have a photography studio based in Bedfordshire, UK, which is not far from London, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

You are of course welcome to come to my studio or if you can simply post your products to me and I will return these as soon as I have delivered your final images.

I also serve an international client base so nomatter where in the world you are, you can simply post your product for me to photograph.

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Beauty product photography pricing and packages

Depending on your product range and budget, I have created three product packages as well as a monthly subscription package, The Content Creator.

My beauty product photography packages start at £275. The package includes everything from brand strategy, prop sourcing as well as concept and styling.

During the photoshoot, I usually take multiple images of your product using different light setups to highlight every feature of your product and edit these together to create a stunning product shot.

I then upload the images to an online gallery, and once you approve the photos, I export and send you the final pictures.

All images given in both high and low-resolution formats for both print and web/social formats.

I will then send a WeTransfer link so you can download the photographs to your phone or computer so you can start using them immediately.

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The Content Creator – Monthly Package

If you love updating your site and socials with fresh content, I offer a monthly product package.

Every month you send me your products, and I will shoot and deliver ten images straight into your inbox. If it’s the same product every time,

I can store the product for you and once a month we can create a photography brief to match your marketing strategy for the month ahead.


Curious to find out more about working together, or ready to book in your beauty product photoshoot? Get in touch today.

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