How To Take Your Own Flat Lay Stock Photos At Home

(Last Updated On: July 11, 2020)

Today I am going to show you how to take your own flat lay stock photos. If you are a blogger or a business owner I think we can all agree that the images we present on our websites represent what we are all about. Images can convey a lot.

It is so important to have a nice front facing website that will keep readers engaged instead of clicking away.

There are so many websites where you can download royalty free stock images as well as purchase stock images. Here is a list that I gathered titled, The Best Places For Stock Photos.

But if you have a creative spirit or you simply want to create an image that you can’t find anywhere else, than taking your own stock photos is a great way to go.

#1 Camera Equipment

You are going to love this. All of the stock photos I take and sell on my online store are taken with an iPhone. I kid you not. Do I think I could take better images with an actual camera? Yes of course. But you don’t have to have an expensive camera to take beautiful flat lay photos.

The great thing with the iPhone is that there are so many great editing features and filter settings that you can make all photos look professional.

Bottom line, if you have a nice camera by all means use it, but otherwise taking photos with a cell phone will work just fine.

Me taking a flat lay stock photo with my iPhone

#2 Lighting

Natural light is the best kind of light when taking photos. I think the best time of day to do a photo shoot is in the early afternoon when the sun has past its peak and is at a lower angle, but still provides a lot of light.

#3 Photo Prop Background Basics

This is where you can be as creative as you want with your background. I have really come to liking a white or grey simple background for my flat lay photos.

But you can play around with different back drops.

This is what I use and it seems to work really well for me. A typical set up looks something like this:

Me taking a flat lay stock photo

As you can see for this photo shoot I am using three simple white styrofoam boards each about 3 feet x 2 feet long.

If you don’t have styrofoam, you can find all kinds of lengths from stores like JoAnn Fabric.

I arrange one styrofoam board as the bottom base. The other two boards are on two sides.

The reason for this set up is that the styrofoam walls will keep the light bouncing back on the base.

I also like shooting from a marble tabletop surface.

Me taking a photo from a marble side table in my living room

I use a side table from my living room as a backdrop. But a simple kitchen counter will also work well. The thing to remember is that you want natural light coming in.

If your kitchen is in a part of your home that doesn’t get a lot of natural light, than I suggest purchasing some tiles from places like the Home Depot or Lowes.

For this set up I use a chair to stand on so I can be higher up and get that shot from above easier.

As you can see, to take your own flat lay stock photos you don’t need to have special equipment or a fancy studio.

#4 Props

I like to arrange a lot of my flat lay photos with a bend toward bloggers and writers.

That’s why you will see so many images with a laptop in it. You don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money on buying all kinds of photo props. Instead use what you have around the house.

Also think about what you are using the image for. Will it be for a Pinterest pin? If so, maybe you want to leave a lot of “empty space” in the image so that you have room to add text overlay after.

Will you be using it to accompany a travel blog article? Maybe you want to add an airline boarding pass, a passport, a map, you get the idea.

What makes a good flat lay photo?

I believe that a good flat lay stock photo consists of the following elements:

  • A living element – such as a plant, flower, leaves
  • A food item – A drink, a cupcake, cookies
  • A work item – a laptop, notebook, pen, pencil
  • A pop of color – this could be from a hair clip, a scarf, lipstick

I also think simplicity is king. Make sure your photos have enough to be interesting, but also simple enough that they are not too busy.

In Conclusion

I hope you have gained some insight on how you can take flat lay photos for your blog at home. You really just need a phone with a camera, some household props, natural light, a few editing techniques and before you know it you have beautiful flat lay stock photos.

Taking your own flat lay stock photos is something that everyone can do. But when you don’t have time to take your own photos, by all means use royalty stock free photos or purchase sets of pretty stock photos online.


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