Why Flat Lay Photography is so Popular
Aka “bird’s eye view” or “top shot”
Flat lay is my new photography obsession + even though it is really trendy, I don’t think this simplistic order + angle could ever go out of style! I thrive off of order, simplicity + sense (yet I’m in the creative industry where thinking outside the sensible box is required…I know….stay with me). So what is this flat lay you speak of, Miranda? Or, if you are a photographer + you are already familiar with the idea, this may be a rerun for you (or a new history lesson!).
Flat lay originated as knolling in 1987 by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor at Frank Ghery’s furniture fabrication shop. At the time, Gehry was a designer for Knoll (ah, get it, knoll), a company known for Florence Knoll’s angular furniture. Andrew would pick up related objects + displaced tools he found lying around the store + arranged them on a flat surface at 90 degree angles - evenly spaced out. Kromelow wasn't just a nutty maintenance man putting items in order because the voices told him to; he did this to show Gehry all of the materials he used at once from his "bird's eye view".
So why is flat lay photography so popular?
· Order – As human beings, we generally strive for order to help make sense of things in our minds. A lot of the flat lays have similar color coordination as well as related items making it equally pleasing to the eye. It quells the OCD in us all.
· Convenience – This type of photo can be achieved almost anywhere by simply placing your items of choice on a smooth surface with great, natural light. Want to show off your tasty dine-in order from the new coffee shop around the corner? Grab your yums, find that cute table near a window, stand on those tippies + there you go! A great, aesthetically pleasing Instagram pic.
· Story-telling – Flat lay photography is also a quick, simple way to tell a tale in a creative way. A lot of flat lay photography you see includes a dish + ingredients around the dish that went into making it. The center of the layout may be a bowl of oatmeal with toppings, but orbiting the bowl could be: a small saucer of cream, dried cranberries, a few cacao nibs + a couple of walnuts.
· Business – This type of photography is also a great way to show off a brand’s new products. Items like jewelry, makeup + clothing can benefit from the aerial view as well as that new coffee shop showing off their original espresso art.
Bonus! You do not have to have an ultra-fancy schmancy camera to obtain flat lay photos. Like I mentioned previously, you can achieve this look simply with your smartphone, some God-given light + a smooth surface.