Lighting in flat lay images

We will talk about lighting in April, but what’s important to know when it comes to flat lays is the direction of light and positioning of your scene to the light source.




Direction of your light

In flat lays, we use side-light, side-back light (which creates diagonal shadows), or lighting coming from the top of the image.

In the image above, you can see that I used the side-back lighting, so the light creates shadows in a diagonal way. This is my personal choice, there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to what type of direction you want to choose for your images.

Thinking about the direction of lighting when you create flat lays is very helpful while composing your scene too. This will help you create flat lay images, which you can use horizontally and vertically too.

This is the same image, shot with the same direction of light – from the side. But, while creating the composition of this image, I aimed to create a flat lay, that I can use on social media – as a vertical shot, but also I would be able to use the same image for my website – placing it horizontally.

So, in this case, the first vertical image has a side lighting, while rotating the image, I get horizontal flat lay lightened from the top (without changing a prop or moving my scene around).

A very great example here is lighting from the side-back of your scene, where the light is arriving to your scene diagonally. How to achieve it? It’s very simple, instead of using the scene positioned 90° or 180° to the light source or your window, move the scene a bit diagonally and this is how you get side-back lighting.

Lets’ have a look at the behind the scenes:




Positioning of your scene

Try to place the scene on the same level as your light source. This will make sure, you are utilising 100% of the lighting available. You know that moving your scene further from the light source, the amount of lighting available is decreasing. This is the same if you move your scene lower than your light source is.

Where your light source would be positioned:

– if you shoot with natural light – move your scene next to the window, if you use the table, your scene will be at the same level as your window. If there is a 15-20 cm difference in height between your scene and your window, it’s not a big problem. However, you shouldn’t place your scene on the floor, under the window that starts 1 meter above your scene.

– if you shoot with artificial light – your softbox or diffuser should be as well – at the same level as your scene. And because of the intensity of light (inverse square law – we will talk about it in April), keep your light source and the scene at the minimum distance to get the maximum light available.)

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