How to Style a Flat Lay: Instagram Skills that Pay the Bills

One of the most popular types of Instagram photos (aside from the selfie, of course) is the Flat Lay.  

Sometimes referred to as an outfit grid (when photographing clothing) or a lay flat (when saying things backwards) the flat lay is iconic in the world of Instagram + for good reason.  The art of arranging objects in a visually pleasing way + shooting from above is something everyone can do to showcase nearly anything they want.  

From food to fashion to random objects found in the junk drawer (hello #thingsorganizedneatly) the possibilities seem endless for styling content for an Instagram feed.

The Social Media CEO: How to Style a Flat Lay. Instagram Skills that Pay the Bills


Using both office supplies + clothing, we’ve illustrated how the same styling idea can be achieved with completely different objects.  

PRO TIP:  Photograph your items in a few different variations every time you shoot.  This way, you’ll have more options for your Instagram feed when it's time to post.  Also, these were all shot in the square setting on an iPhone 6s.  Of course, you can use a DSLR to shoot content for Instagram, but this just goes to show that you don't need fancy equipment to get a great photo for your feed, your phone will work just fine! 

Traditional Grid


This flat lay is achieved by keeping all of your objects lined up in a "square format" when framing your photo.  Imagine there are grid lines on your flat surface.  You will want to keep your items straight + balanced in composition.  It helps to have a tripod to keep things from shaking, but nbd if you don't. You can always use the straightening tool on your phone to make sure you’re perfectly square post shooting. 



We like to refer to this style as Controlled Chaos, or Elegantly Disheveled.  The trick with these flat lays is achieving the right framing + balance.  You want to choose an item to "highlight" + then use the other items to create movement around it.  These definitely look like everything just fell perfectly out onto the desk, but trust us when we say there is a lot of handiwork involved in creating these types of images.  It's all about practice, so keep moving your items around until you get the perfect shot.  

Room For Text


This is basically a hybrid of LIFESTYLE-D photo styling.  The difference here is that items have been removed or pushed away from the "highlighting" area. You can intentionally leave space open so that you can go back + add your own text in later with an app or in Photoshop. It's a nice way to get a promotional message in your Instagram feed, while still keeping the focus on beautiful images.  

Negative Space


Sometimes it's nice to give your Instagram feed some room to "breathe".  By shooting a flat lay with a lot of negative space, you can still highlight an object while keeping things minimal + clean.  You can shoot with a variety of textures, color pops, anything you want- but every once in a while, EMBRACE THE NEGATIVE SPACE!

Grid with an Alternate Angle

As mentioned previously, you should always try to get a handful of options (yep, more than you think you should). The last image is an example of that.  While shooting items in a traditional grid, we simply turned the camera on an angle.  This gives it a totally different look + composition.