Perfectly placed products illuminated by enchanting lighting. Such flatlays have come to define the work of Rosalie Agency, a downtown LA-based creative team of four—photographer, videographer, stylist, and makeup artist—founded by @karen.rosalie. The agency has produced countless campaigns and social content for some of your favorite beauty brands including Summer Fridays, Caudalie, Mara, Nuria Beauty, and KKW Beauty (to name a few).
If, like Karen, lockdown has pushed you to get creative with taking flatlays, you've come to the right place. The flatlay pro is sharing how to choose the right props for your flatlay, get the lighting just right, and more tips on taking an Instagram-worthy flatlay at home and beyond. Keep scrolling after the story for more flatlay inspo, courtesy of Karen herself.
What are the most common mistakes people make when setting up or shooting flatlays?
- Not prepping a moodboard/shotlist beforehand. This can help with feeling overwhelmed or not knowing where to start.
- Not watching out for reflections—I try to get rid of any dust or distracting elements in camera as much as possible to avoid a lot of post-shoot work.
- Not focusing on brand packaging. The brand is what you’re selling so the label must be showing and in focus!
What are the most important do’s of setting up IG-worthy flatlays?
- Prepare your props ahead of time!
- Make sure you have good lighting. I don’t shoot unless the time of day is right or I have my lighting set up.
- Have cute inspo images prepared to reference in a moodboard/shot list.
What are some tips on incorporating props like a pro?
Your props should never be bigger than your product. I personally like to use nondescript props without their brand name showing so it doesn’t take away from the focus of the product. To keep moving products/props in place, use Sticky Putty! You can get this on Amazon.
Let’s talk lighting—what kind of lighting best complements flatlays?
Direct sunlight is always my go-to. If you don’t have direct sunlight you can use a flash without a modifier for a harsh shadow effect to simulate sunlight.
What are some tips for shooting flatlays at home?
Lately I’ve been loving shooting inside my shower or in my sink. Water instantly makes a photo more interesting and dynamic. A super easy place is also on top of your bed during sunset time when the shadows are long.
I’m shooting my flatlay from a bird’s eye—do you have any tips to avoid pesky shadows?
I usually side step a little to avoid shooting my own shadow, or repositioning the product so I come from a different angle. Otherwise try putting it into the shade for soft, diffused shadows.
How do I make texture swatches look pretty and not like awkward goop?
I use palette knives used for painting or cake decorating tools to manipulate the swatch. The best thing is to swatch it directly onto the back of your hand first, then transfer to your surface into the shape that you want. I also tend to love swatches that are shot in direct sunlight, it looks so pretty and can bring out the shimmer in the swatch if there are any.
What’s a good rule of thumb for shooting an oddly satisfying video with an iPhone?
Keep your camera steady (ideally have someone else record while you swatch) and keep it to under 30 seconds.
Do you have any tips for editing flatlays on an iPhone?
Lately I’ve been loving using the built-in photo editing function on the iPhone—I apply the filter “dramatic” and add in warmth. Definitely adjust overall brightness and also bring up the shadows.
On a pro camera?
If shooting in direct sunlight, my foolproof settings are ISO 100, F11, Shutter speed 125.
Flatlay inspo, courtesy of @karen.rosalie: