5 Tips to Create The Perfect Flat Lay, From a #Flatlay Expert

Perfectly folded clothes, flawless flowers and an array of beauty products all artfully arranged on crisp white bed sheets — sounds like the making of a killer Instagram photo, right?

If you’re a sucker for a gorgeous flat lay like us then you probably have come across, and liked and followed, the work of Joana Leite, a.k.a Style Traces.

Her skills haven’t just garnered her a considerable Instagram following (18k and growing), Joana has managed to turn the art of flat lay into a business.

Flat Lay Image via @styletraces on Instagram
Image via @styletraces on Instagram

She counts among the global brands she has worked with Sisley Paris, Daniel Wellington, and Emu Australia.

Originally from Portugal, Joana studied to become a Metallurgical and Material Engineer but now calls Dublin home and works full-time on the things she is most passionate about, styling and ‘flat-laying’.

If you’re looking to up your Instagram game, read on for Style Trace’s tips to create the perfect #flaylay every time – be careful though, Joana says once you’ve cracked the art of flat-laying it can be addictive…

When and how did you start creating flat lays?

I’m actually smiling thinking about this! It was five years ago when every morning before gym – don’t laugh – I would do a flat lay with the look I would be wearing for the gym that morning at and share on Instagram at 6.30am.

Then later I’d share a photo at the gym wearing that look – this when instagram was for actual “instant” moments!

As with the gym looks, I did the same happened with my daily outfits, spreading the clothes on the floor to take a picture and show what I would be wearing, from head to toe – accessories and make up included.

I then started to experiment with the beauty flat lays, and as my skills improved my addiction to flat lay everything developed – it’s a thing, be careful!

If you’re like me, once you get started you won’t be able to stop. You’ll find yourself arranging a flat lay even if you just put up your laptop on your desk, when you’re organising your beauty corner or putting the food on the table…

How long does it take you to create a flat lay? 

It really depends on the main piece, on the theme and on the mood… it could be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2hours.

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THREE YEARS 🖤📓⌚️ three times 365 days of you, Dublin! I still remember the girl that landed on you 3 years ago, on a sunny and bright day with only 2 bags and 2 pairs of boots! Left almost everything of my old life behind and I was committed to start a new life, a new better one! I accepted my past but didn’t want my future to be part of it and “oh, Dublin!” you were so perfect for it! seeing everyone smiling even with the cold and freezing weather, people saying “hello!” and smiling at you just because your sights crossed, I was jumping of joy inside! Almost forgot about my disease and how it would be putting me into bed after a few months, over and over again. It’s not that easy to start a new life away from everything you grew up with… I felt the happiest person alive, couldn’t hold it inside me!! I was living my adventure, my moment, I learnt how to enjoy life by myself, for the first time I put myself first! I forgot about all the bad in my life and I was truly HAPPY!! but… suddenly all my energy was taken from me, from the happiest I become the saddest and felt like screaming it to the world, somehow I let it came out here and there.. but there are not so many safe shoulders to cry on, or true warm arms to hug, sometimes a stranger can show more care and love than the ones calling thereselfs as “friends”! Dublin you have the friendly and cosiest cafes, staff that make you feel at home and costumers willing to share their coffee moment and table with you. You made me try matcha for the first time and become a “matcha lover”… there’s so much to LOVE about you, you’re not huge but you’re just big enough and I’m sure, with time, we will become happy lovers again! ✍🏻 Between all the mess I’ve been trhough, I bumped into really magic humans that somehow helped me to forget about the pretenders! Save your time for the good energies and don’t let no one steal your happy moment! HAPPINESS is PRECIOUS, hold it ✨ ➖ wanna know what’s inside my @netaporter box?! follow the link 👉🏻 http://liketk.it/2uh2F or get the @liketoknow.it app #liketkit✔dotty nails thanks to the super lovely Katarzyna and her @indigo_nails_lab_ireland •💅🏻•

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What brands have you collaborated with?

I’m lucky to have collaborated with brands I was already a fan of, but also to meet new ones that I’ve become a big fan of.

Recent collaborations include Sisley Paris, Design Letters, Daniel Wellington, Emu Australia, Allél Skin, Cutipol, Roja Parfums.

Not all the flat lays I share are inspired by collaborations, but some organic posts have sparked new collaborations and opened doors to new clients. Hopefully this cycle will continue!

What camera/s do you use?

I use a Nikon D750 to shoot my flat lays, though when I’m out and about and the opportunity to do a flat lay on a nice table arises I use my phone.

Can you share your top tips for creating the perfect flat lay?

Here’s my 5 top tips to #flatlay:

1. The Background

Pick a clean and plain background, like table tops, marble tiles or clean bed sheets.

2. The Light

Natural light is a favourite. Try working close to windows.

3. The Theme

Pick a theme, choose from travel to fashion, beauty, cosmetics or food, and then tell a story!

4. The Colour Palette

Choose the main colour, and stick to similar shades.

5. The Main Piece

So, you want to share your new lipstick, or new bag, chose that as your main piece and build the photo around it.

Feel free to layer big things with smaller ones, but always keep in mind the rules above…

You can follow Joana on Twitter (@styletraces) and Instagram (@stylestraces)or visit www.styletraces.com