#Flatlay 101: How to take great pics with your phone camera

Seeing gorgeous photos of product after beauty product on Instagram can set a makeup-phile's heart aflutter. Then comes the question: why don't my photos look like that? Knowing how to shoot a great flat lay is pretty easy, and we promise that you will get better as you take more pictures! To get started, here are some basic tips for that drool-worthy post.

Lighting is king

Good lighting is important to avoid funny-looking shadows. Indirect natural light is the best; think of the mid-morning/afternoon sun slipping in from a window. But if evenings are the only possible photo shoot time for you, then adding lights from the sides will do. You can even use your smartphone’s flashlight if there are no other lights within reach.

Background is queen

Choose a background that will enable you to appreciate the details of the main item. It can be a contrast of prints and a minimalist bottle of skincare, or cute packaging highlighted by a clean, crisp background. For product flat lays, you can make use of papers and interesting fabrics like blankets or blouses.

Set a center of attention

A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, and every story has a star. It can be a group of products from the same brand, or a line-up of similar lipsticks. These should be front and center in the photo so viewers will be drawn to it.


We rarely see flat lays with just a single item on it. There's usually a flower or an interesting accent to add more detail to your photo. These should match the story of the star product, and the color scheme of the photo. You can use food, flowers (real or otherwise), clothing (like a shawl, a hat, or a blouse), or even cute toys!

Everything in the photo should be balanced in terms of color, sizes, and the negative space. The last one refers to the spacing of the items. You get that feel from photos where there's a lot of stuff, but doesn't look cluttered? That's what you want to go for.

Templates and apps are your friends

Technology basically wants to make our lives easier, so why not take advantage of it? You might want to check your phone's camera settings for the square photo option. This enables you to automatically take a square-shaped photo that would perfectly fit when posting in Instagram’s 1:1 ratio. No more cropping problems since what you see is what your followers will get, and you can compose the photo based on the proper limitations.

Photo editing apps are abundant in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. There are the crowd-favorites VSCO and Snapseed to name a few. These help you tweak your photos a bit: adjusting the brightness here, the color saturation there. There are even pre-set filters that help you achieve different effects, but you may want to go easy on this. After all, you want your makeup shots to look as close to the original color as possible!


Unfortunately, not all of us have the budget for a really nice camera and lenses. If you do have the budget, take time to research the products that are best for your needs. A great lens can really make all the difference in the photo sometimes.

Even if we did have a DSLR setup, they can be too bulky to lug around. Most of the time, we rely on our smartphones to get that perfect flatlay, as we never leave home without our phones. Luckily, brands keep on innovating and developing their smartphones to provide us with the good photography options even while out and about. The latest is Huawei’s partnership with the Leica brand for the Huawei P9.

Just launched this month, the Huawei P9 and the more formidable Huawei P9 Plus boast of “authentic Leica film modes” for their dual 12MP rear cameras with Leica SUMMARIT lenses. This is the first time that Leica has actually co-engineered a smartphone and the sample images showcased were amazing. We were able to play around with the P9s at the event and can just imagine how easy it would be take great flatlays with it. Even in low-light conditions, the camera still takes good photos. There is definitely a professional camera effect in the P9.

There is also the P9 Lite for a more affordable version at around P12,000 though it does not have the Leica branding or the dual lens feature. The Huawei P9 retails for P23,990 while you can score the P9 Plus for P29,990. They will be available in stores on June 15 but they have an amazing sale in case you’re looking to upgrade

Now as with any camera, do take the time to get to know your device so that you can fully maximize your flatlay skills.

Do you love taking photos on your smartphone? What are your flatlay secrets?