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Picking the perfect surface for your flat lay

Selecting props for a shoot is one of my favorite parts of the gig. Creating a color story, determining the mood of a photo and playing with pretty dishes and linens is so much fun and, quite possibly, a big reason why I got into this field to begin with. I mean, who doesn’t want to get a tax write off for their shopping addiction??! ;)

When choosing a surface for your subject, here are some questions to ask yourself:

What’s the story/mood here? (Cheerful? Somber? Playful?)

Where would you see this subject in real life? (In a rustic kitchen? On a modern table?)

What is your color story? (Bright and flashy? Muted and soft? Neutral and earthy?)

If this is for a client, what is the vibe of their brand? (Modern? Classic? Chic?)

Below are some examples of images where I asked myself these same questions.

My goal with the pretzels and beer was to create the feeling of a pub with kind of a darker vibe so that the golden-y color of the pretzels really popped. Our Zealand surface, which originated from an old, industrial service cart in the studios where we work, felt like a great match. The food is casual and a bit messy and I like how the surface has a similar look.

It’s hard to make cheese and fruit look bad, (or taste bad for that matter.) Lots of different surfaces could have worked for this shot. However, our Juniper surface always makes me think of Italy, with it’s rich color and look of old-world marble, and that seemed like a perfect fit for the subject here. I also thought the green of the background would really set off the ruby red color of the preserves, (complementary colors, and all. )

For this image, I wanted to capture an abundant farmers market haul and I envisioned a rustic wood tabletop for my photo background. My favorite from our wood collection-the George surface- fit the bill.  It's not too dark or too light in color and it reminds me of an old French table- warm and worn, perfect for displaying beautiful ingredients.

Lastly, for the image of the croissants, I wanted to create the mood of a coffee shop— with modern, concrete tables, cold pressed coffee, reading material, etc. So I chose our Simon surface, which is my go-to for all things concrete. Since I am originally from Seattle and was feeling a bit homesick when I shot this, I wanted softer, subdued light, as if it were taken on an overcast day, (because we all know that coffee shops and cloudy days are in abundance in Seattle!)

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