HOW I GOT THE SHOT: MASTERING YOUR FLATLAY PHOTOS

One of the main questions I get about photography is how to shoot flatlay. I think that most people get the general idea how to shoot flaylay, but I think often times they get a little stuck with the actual technical part of shooting their flatlay. So, today I am going to do my best to share all my tips and tricks to mastering flatlay photography by sharing how I got today's shot. The shot below comes from our most recent travel collection and it's by far one of my favorite collections to date. 

LIGHTING

One of the first things I do before any shoot is evaluate my light. Light in our apartment is kind of tricky, but you definitely want to start your flatlay with natural light. If you have a room in your house that is absolutely filled with natural light then you are off to a great start. If you are like me and have uneven light coming in from not so great light sources then you will want to add filler light with either softboxes or a camera flash. For all of my work and for the photo below, I shot with natural light and two softboxes. For this particular photo my natural light source is coming in from the left of the photo.

Keep in mind that when shooting with a camera flash or softboxes you don't want to point the flash or softboxes directly at your subject. You want to position the light in such a way that is bounces off your ceiling or opposite walls. Pointing your flash or your softboxes in a way that allow the light to bounce means you'll have softer light. 

DIFFUSERS & REFLECTORS 

Speaking of light lets talk about diffusers and reflectors. When I set up for shoot I position my flatlay in front of my natural light source and then I set up reflectors (out of frame) around my flatlay. These reflectors help reflect that natural light back into frame, which in turn leads to better light. 

Now, let's talk about shadows and diffusers. Depending on your natural light source and how the natural light is filling your room you may want to use a diffuser to reduce shadows. I almost always use a diffuser to minimize shadows in my flatlay. For this particular photo and set up (and for almost every photo I take) I placed my diffuser between my main light source (the window) and my flatlay. If you get comfortable using your reflector you'll notice that the tilt in which you have your reflector changes the light as well. 

TRIPOD

On to our tripod. I wouldn't recommend shooting flatlays without a tripod, unless you have a crazy amount of good light. Flatlays are tricky because it's important to get all of your props in focus. In order to do that you have to use a specific f-stop and a tripod is necessary to match a good f-stop with a good shutter speed. Using a tripod reduces camera shake and also keeps your camera stationary. This means your can leave your camera in place while moving around your props. Otherwise you will be picking up your camera every time you want to take a photo and the composition may change every time. 

APERTURE & SHUTTER SPEED 

Aperture is key when creating a solid flatlay. What makes flatlays work is that every prop is in focus and in order to do that it's important to use the correct aperture. In order to have all your items in focus you need a narrow aperture or large f-stop. This is opposite of shooting portraits, but similar to shooting landscapes. When I take portraits I usually use an f-stop around 2.8. This type of f-stop means we'll have a photo with a really nice blurry background. 

Now, back to using a large f-stop number. The photo above was shot with an f-stop of 8. This f-stop ensured that all of the items were focus. I have done other flatlays were I used an f-stop of 14. Keep in mind that when using this f-stop, this also means that you need to shoot with a long exposure. The exposure for this shot was 1/10. A large f-stop number paired with a long shutter speed definitely means you need to shoot with a tripod. Something else I almost always do is to also use my timer. With such a long exposure I want to make sure there is zero shake on the camera. 

One thing that I think is important to remember as a photographer, whether you are seasoned or brand new, is as long as you continue to study photos and how each photo is made, you will start to understand how a photo is created. Flatlays are a give away for a large f-stop, because all the props are in focus. I wouldn't have seen that in a photo, except for the fact that I study photos. Over my years as a photographer I started to study every photo I saw and slowly I learned to see where the light was coming into frame, what type of f-stop they were using and the shutter speed as well. 

That does it for today, friends. I'll have to come back with tips for mastering the styling next, right? Whew, I think that would be harder, haha! xoxo. Samantha


15 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ME

Hello, friend! It's been a good long time since I have written a post on the more personal side, so I'm  here to share something fun and hopefully we can get to know each other better. :) We love small business owners, right? We love to get to know them. We love to know little details about their lives and story. I know I do. I love to know small business owners on a more personal level. I feel connected to them when they share bits and pieces about their everyday lives outside of their business. So.... today Im coming at you with 15 things you didn't know about me. :) 

1  | I have one brother and two half sisters. I've never met my half sisters and my brother is one of my best friends. 

2 | I grew up in the Midwest, but I have also lived in Florida, California, and now, New York.

3 | I was in show choir in high school and still rock jazz hands. I have always loved dancing, even if I don't look good doing it, haha! 

4 | I went to school for Public Relations, but did my independent study in photography and the rest is history. 

5 | I'm not competitive at all. I would rather everyone have a good time. 

6 | I hate scary movies and refuse to watch them, haha.  

7 | I'm not a very big fan of "stuff" and would probably consider myself a minimalist. 

8 | We lived in a 325sqft tiny house for a year and it taught us how to really live small. 

9 | My guilty pleasure is anything related to cake, haha! Donuts, cupcakes, you name it. 

10 | Being 30 has been my favorite year for self-acceptance 

11 | I wish I could wear shorts all year long.

12 | If I could I would wear work-out gear all day, everyday.

13 | I ran my first ever mile just this month. I've always been a sprinter and learning to breathe threw long runs as been tough, but Tyler coached me and I finally did it! 

14 | I'm a social introvert. I can work a crowd (if I'm prepared, ha) but after a few hours I'm completely spent (no more talking or interacting is allowed, haha!)

15 | I enjoy doing house work. One of my favorite things about working from home is getting to take care of our home. 

Now it's your turn! Sharing something I didn't know about you! xoxo! Samantha


CLIENT SHOWCASE: BLISSBERRY DESIGN

This summer I had the privilege and honor to work with Sarah of Blissberry Design. Sarah is a hand-letterer and one of the sweetest people I know. Sarah reached out to me via instagram in need of custom styled stock photos for her website and instagram where she could highlight her designs and fonts. We chatted about her needs, she curated her inspiration board, I drafted her client sheet and curated her props. Then we were on our way. 

One thing I love about creating custom styled stock photos is that once the client has outlined the type of photos they are in need of and then provide me some inspiration, I usually have ideas rolling around in my head about what I would like to create. 

One thing that stood out the most to me about the inspiration that Sarah provided, was texture. She pinned a variety of images with texture and she also expressed a desire for feminine styling. Between our conversations and her inspiration I dreamed up images that were feminine, but down-to-earth.

One main theme for Sarah's photos were mockups which included; mugs, frames, ipad shots, notebooks, clipboards, packaging, books, and coasters. I also created a variety of lifestyle photos, styling that included lots of white space, and composition that could be cropped into banners. 

 

Are you in need of your own custom styled stock? Let's work together! 

 

One really fun thing I included in Sarah's sessions were donuts! After snapping so many photos with donuts, it made me want to include them in the shop! Hopefully I'll get some in the works soon. xoxo. Samantha 


WHAT I HAVE LEARNED AFTER 8 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Two years ago I wrote a post, "What I've Learned after 6 years of photography." It's maybe one of my most popular posts. Seeing as it's been another two years (I can't believe it) I thought it might be a good time to revisit what I've learned and look back. 

2015 meets 2017 ... 

1  | GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

One thing I have learned over everything else that I think is most important is to give yourself grace. In 2015 I was struggling with my lack of growth. I felt like I should have covered so much more ground as a photographer. But I had failed to see everything I had gone through.

In 2015...I wondered why I hadn't grown more and then I looked back on my journey. I forgot about how much my life changed through my journey. I started photography, but then I moved to Florida, where I lived for a year. Then I moved back to Missouri, where I lived for a year and a half, then I moved to California, where I lived for two and a half years. And now I'm in New York. Moving around a lot requires a lot from a person and learning photography wasn't always a priority.

Grace upon grace in any journey is essential. Even now, after I feel that I have found my footing as a photographer. I can look back on this past year and see how much I've grown, but if I'm not careful I can fall into the comparison game and I start withholding grace. No matter where you are in your journey. No matter how short you feel it has been. No matter how long you feel it has been. Give yourself grace. 

2  | PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE 

We've all heard it. Practice, practice, practice. This was true for me eight years ago and it's still true for me today. As a photographer and an artist you can't stop and except to always have it. No matter where you are at in your journey, whether you are 6 month's in or 5 years in, practice will always be apart of the game. 

3  | EMBRACE YOUR FAILURES

It took me a long time to embrace my failures. But failure as a photographer is always an opportunity for growth. Failure simply means something your tried didn't work. Failure in photography simply means to try again, to keep going, to challenge yourself and to think outside of the box. The sooner you embrace failure and see it as a learning opportunity, the faster you will grow and the more knowledge your will gain. 

4  | VIEW COMPETITION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SET YOURSELF APART

When most photographers get started in their industry, whether they are a portrait photographer, wedding photographer, commercial photographer, styled stock photographer or the like, they sometimes play it safe. They do what every other photographer is doing. It's not that they don't want to be unique, but they see that other photographers are being successful and sometimes they think, "I need to do it that way to be successful too." I've totally been there. I've played it safe and created images that we're "current" in my industry. 

The great thing about any journey is that we can continue to grow, find our rhythm as photographers and create things that we absolutely love, even if it's not what others in our industry are doing. That is what successful businesses are made of. They differentiate themselves.

Competition aside, you are unique, the way you do business is unique, the way you see and take photos is unique. Embrace that and your competition isn't really competition at all.

5  | SEEK OUT OTHER CREATIVES

When I first started out as a photographer I was petrified of other creatives. "What if they see right through me?" "What if they tell me I suck?" "I can't hangout with other creatives, I'm not as good as they are." This may not be a concern for everyone, but if it's something you are thinking, take a deep breath. Every creative I have ever met, whether it was another photographer, a lifestyle blogger, or a small business owner, they have all been kind, gracious and giving. 

What new photographers or new business owners don't know, is that regardless of how far we come in our journey, we'er all still learning. And most of the time we still feel like we don't know what we're doing, haha! 

6  | KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT

Your camera can do a lot. So can your flash, lenses, and every other piece of equipment you may have. Keep learning your equipment. After eight years I still have things I'm learning. We never stop learning. Keep going, keep trying. keep learning.

7  | IT GETS EASIER

I'm so glad to include this one. It does get easier, friend. I never thought it would and some days are still hard, but it does get easier. Things that used to be hard, start to make sense. The things that took you so long to learn become habit. It gets easier and sweeter. You'll find your groove. You'll find your sweet spot. You're clients and customers will find you and you'll love creating for them. It get's easier. 

xoxo. Samantha