ShopVenture Blog - How To: Flat Lay Like Matisse

How To: Flat Lay Like Matisse

17 Jun 2016

The Flay Lay is social media version of an artistic masterpiece. These perfectly composed photographs are not as effortless as they may look. Cue people standing on chairs, hovering with a camera over a table of food…definitely comparable to the weeks it took Van Gogh to paint Starry Night right?

So what exactly do you need to know to create the perfect flat lay? Well Matisse, ShopVenture is here to guide you.


First Things First

What are you including in your flat lay? Select your hero piece and work back from there. A theme of color, style or pattern can be incredibly effective visually, so think about what story you want to tell. Matchy-matchy is great to a certain degree, but limit your objects to avoid overkill. Consider including a mix of organic and inorganic items for a balanced aesthetic. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t love macarons scattered in their make-up?


Generally a clean, white background is the most effective surface for a flat-lay. This can be achieved with a flattened length of canvas or paper, or even with a clean portable whiteboard. For a point of difference, try an organic surface such as timber, stone, grass or straw. Experiment with a surface of pattern with large swatches of fabric, or perhaps an interesting rug or carpet.


There are two ways you can do this: ‘naturally messy’ or ‘carefully neat’. Consider symmetry or asymmetry of your objects. Practice makes perfect here, so take a few test shots of your items, in various positions.


This will make or break your shot. Soft, natural light is essential for minimal shadowing and overall appeal. Mid morning to midday is usually best, and often if you’re near a window or entry to the outdoors, you’re on the money. Cloudy days that diffuse the natural light and provide a subtle glow are perfect too.


Artists in the league of Chardin or Van Gogh never had access to helpful software and apps such as Photoshop, Afterlight and VSCO…but you do! So use them! But in moderation, an oversaturated image can totally kill a product. Consider editing the image with tools instead of applying an overall filter.

Sum It Up

Flat-lays are a great way to present and promote your product. An effective flat lay includes a mix of items and brands that can be shared and reproduced on multiple digital platforms.

Mastering the flat lay will open up hundreds of opportunities to connect with online consumers! Just look at the many influencers who are making successful careers off ‘creative flat laying’. To be honest, we're no Van Gogh, but we wouldn’t mind standing on chairs all day, organizing pretty things…surely you would too?