Over the last 2-3 years I’ve really got more into photography. I wish I’d done so earlier, when N was first born, because we don’t have many really nice photos of him. But I’m making up for it now, and enjoying photographing different subjects. I love flower photography – I’m doing a flower photography course at the moment which is stretching me. Looking at my Instagram account I have anything and everything photographed there.
So far flat lay photography hasn’t been something I’ve really got into. For starters it means time, planning and lots of props. Something I don’t have a lot of. I’ve always been more of a shoot what I see, and snap away.
But after taking part in Makelight advent and a couple of workshop sessions at Blog On Xmas, I’ve decided that I quite like doing them. They take me back to when I used to do card making. It’s a nice feeling to just faff around, placing items, choosing colours, and making something pretty. Just for the hell of it.
This winter I’ve started putting together a flat lay prop box. Yes, you can go and buy sets of props if you want but you’ll probably find lots of useful items around the house, and can then add to it as you see perfect props in shops, car boot sales, or unwanted items from friends and family..
Lucy from Capture by Lucy is a big promoter of having your props to hand, but also having them stored together so they’re easily accessible. There’s no point having them stashed all over the house in amongst everyday items so you have to go round collecting them up each time you want to use them.
My intention is to have a festive flat lay photography box, and then use my nice trunk for storing non-festive props. I also have a small cupboard to keep all my camera equipment used in so that’s readily grabbed too.
Flat lay prop box starting ideas
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Charity shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, ebay or preloved websites, make requests on freecycle, local neighbourhood selling sites. Also trying asking friends for anything they’re throwing out.
Tools and equipment
- Backdrops or make DIY boards if you don’t have beautiful wooden floor boards or table tops
- Photography clamps* to help hold backdrops or props in place
- Tripod. You can hand hold your camera or phone, but it’s easier to have your camera on a stand facing down so you can adjust a prop while you’re shooting. If you don’t have a rotating tripod head, try a tripod arm or try a DIY version. Alternatively a gorillapod is a good option.
- Window to take photos by. The floor works just as well as a table – remember you need to be looking directly down, so using a table means you’re goign to have to get really high up over it.
Stationery – Notebooks, notecards, quote cards, postcards, pens, funky paper clips, patterned paper, gift tags, table sequins, craft supplies, magazines, playing cards, letters (wooden, scrabble or from other games)
Accessories and make up – choose sparkles or matt jewellery, pretty cosmetics – in or out of boxes, badges, watch, sunglasses, purses, make up cases, scarves
Crockery and cutlery – pretty glasses, anything miniature, spoons, pretty scissors, patterned or plain, cookie cutters, cocktail mixers/sticks and umbrellas , straws, coasters, vintage cups and saucers, candles or tea lights
Haberdashery – material, ribbons, twine, thimbles
Gadgets – cameras, phones, poloroid pictures or cameras, opera glasses
Nature – plants, leaves, flower – dried or fresh, cactus/succulents, in pots or laid straight on the backdrop.
Festive flat lay props:
Christmas – anything gold or silver, bells, baubles, felt Christmas shapes, table sequins, fairy lights, fir cones, mistletoe, holly, tinsel, dark background (like an old baking tray), nutcrackers, christmas card scenes, stars, reindeer, wooden decorations, poinsettia
Easter – eggs (marble your own, or use mini eggs), ribbons, rabbit cut outs, daffodils
What props are your favourite go tos? Where do you like to buy them from?
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