Whether you want to level up your Instagram, illustrate your blog or practice your photography: Well thought out and creative flat lay photography ideas always leave an impression. We’ve put together the most important info, tips and arrangement ideas for flat lay photography, so that you can take truly great photos. You’ll also find out what you have to think about with Instagram flat lays and how you can also achieve a more unconventional flat lay!

Have fun reading and get ready to pick up your camera, smartphone or tablet!

What is flat lay photography?

Flat lay photography is more than just a pretty photo – after all, every photo is a little story. Objects are arranged in such a way that they tell something to the viewer, along the lines of: a picture says a thousand words. For example, they reveal the photographer’s breakfast routine or a personal packing list for the next adventure vacation. Other flat lay photo ideas might show what you have in your pocket or the essentials a DIY-exclusive desk needs. So basically, you can take photos of anything and everything that is important to you. With one exception… Flat lay pictures are taken from bird’s eye view without exception!

What kind of flat lay ideas should I try?

The first question you should ask yourself is what is your topic? Where is your inspiration? Are your flat lay ideas directed to your followers on Instagram? Perhaps to make your travel plans public with maps, cameras, compasses and other props? Or would you like to invite your family to your birthday party with a personalized photo? Without a topic that you are passionate about, the ideas will not bubble to the surface. You can find inspiration in this article and on Pinterest.

If you want to see or share the flat lays as printed photos, you can easily send your pictures as greeting cards, postcards or photo prints in the MyPostcard app.

The props

Flowers are taped onto a clean background as props

You’ve got your topic. Excellent! Now you are spoiled for choice as to which objects and props you could use. In the first step, collect everything you can think of related to the topic. Then you can arrange the objects according to similar color concepts and according to their shapes. Some people prefer their props to also be of a similar size.

Our personal flat lay photography ideas for props include flea markets and sewing boxes or something from your grandparents’ treasure chests. Flowers – fresh or dried -, chic magazines, lifestyle products (e.g. a great perfume or a well-known drink) and nostalgic items such as old maps are also well received. If your pictures are aimed at your family, it is a good tip to integrate things that you have something in common. This could be an old ticket from a concert or a cuddly toy from childhood.

The background

For all of your flat lay ideas, the background is just as important as the props you use. By that we mean the old wooden table, the striped paper or even the paved road on which you organize your material. Again, the selection depends on your topic! For the next road trip, a paved road section is a super creative idea! For your beauty routine, however, a white marble floor might work better. If you have a soft spot for vintage, then try a wooden background. You will see that your flat lay props work differently with every surface.

Tip: Instagram flat lay experts use wallpapers as backgrounds that can be ordered online. From marble to floral patterns or concrete, there are tons of variants available.

Arranging your flat lay ideas

Two ideas for your flat lay arrangements

So now you’ve have gathered all your objects and have decided on a surface, you need to start to make your arrangement. Take your time here and try out different constellations. You’ll find that flat lay photography has a lot to do with organization. Start with the larger items in the middle. Then start to fill in the gaps with suitable props and arrange smaller things around them. If your ideas involve an Instagram flat lay, make sure to arrange things in a square ratio, since this how it’ll appear in your feed.

Try and discard ideas, rearrange, throw out props and bring in others! Take a snapshot in between to see how your flat lay looks on the screen!

Finding the right technique

No, you don’t need a fully equipped study or a SLR camera. A good smartphone is just fine! Make sure there is enough daylight when photographing your flat lays. So find a place near a window. Experts often use soft boxes to create the ideal lighting mood.

You also need the right perspective: you will probably have to climb onto a chair to get it right. Also note that for Instagram flat lays you should take photos in the correct format, i.e. square. You can set this up directly on your smartphone.

You need a basic guide to beginner photography? Here’s our complete guide for beginners (part one) all the way to advanced (part 2).

The personal touch

Flat lay photography, like any other art, is a learning curve. And you’re sure to get better over time. But to get you started, we have three additional tips that will give your pictures a more personal touch.

And just in case you need a few more crazy ideas, here are 6 ideas for your indoor photoshoot.

#1 Flat lay photography ideas tip: Perfect Imperfection!

Biscuits in this flat lay idea have been bitten into and lie on a coffee plate

Everyone is photographing perfect objects? Then grab some with a few flaws. How about a crooked apple or even one that has already been bitten in to? Or you can let a paint pot run out on your bakground surface instead of just taking a picture of the pot with a brush. A good motto from the creative sector goes: Whatever you think, think the opposite. Apply this principle to flat lay photography for Instagram and Co!

#2 Flat lay photography ideas tip: Include a secret message

A positive message on a diary next to plants and pens

Pack your flat lay photos not just with stories, but also little messages. Letter beads are ideal here letting you spell a YEAH or a YOLO. Or you can have children paint on your surface with wax crayons before you arrange your setting. Here again the topic determines your “secret message”. Just let your creativity run free!

#3 Flat lay photography ideas tip: Be a part of it!

A person holds coffee in this one of our flat lay ideas surrounded by flowers and paintings

Integrate yourself into your flat lay photos. For this flat lay photo idea, you will probably have to get help from friends. You can show one of your arms or both hands working with the props to show that they are an important part of you!

And now all that’s left… try it out!

I hope you enjoyed our flat lay photography tips and got your creativity going! We wish you a lot of fun and success with your first steps into flat flay photography.


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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