Whether or not you’ve known the official term for it, you’ve “ooh”-ed and “ahh”-ed over your fair share of flatlays. These photo collages of objects on a flat surface have invaded Instagram in a big way, and now they’re vital to our visual lexicon.

As a tool for showcasing new products and inspiring followers, flatlays are indispensable. We explain, through examples, the elements of a flatlay that truly lifts off the screen.

Use a Neutral Background

Stick to a neutral background to avoid adding unnecessary noise to the composition. A plain bed sheet does the trick quite nicely, as does a wood surface or a white rug.

Seize the Daylight

You’ll find that natural, even daylight most flatters your items. Try to avoid early or late sunlight, which can cast harsh shadows over your flatlay. Whatever you do, don’t snap a picture in dim lighting–even the best filter won’t be able to make up for graininess.

Build a Color Palette

Colors are powerful for evoking moods, so create a color palette that strikes the note you’re going for. For example, your colors can take inspiration from the season: imbue a fall flatlay with maroons and mustard yellows, and fill a summer flatlay with creams and neon accents.

Add a Pop of Color

To add visual interest, introduce a contrasting color to your flatlay. This can be achieved with a tube of lipstick, a well-laid rose, or (as the above proves) a splash of glitter.

Play With White Space

Use the square photo setting on your camera phone to arrange the items to your liking. Don’t be afraid to play with the composition–not all the edges need to be evenly filled.

Fold Clothes for Structure

While a blouse may be a knock-out on the human body, it doesn’t necessarily have the same effect when it’s crumpled on the floor. Be mindful of how you present each item of clothing–whether that means folding it, arranging the hem, or angling the shoe.

Embrace Texture

Nothing pleases the eye more than a variety of textures. Experiment with pairing smooth surfaces with rougher textures, such as denim and fur, or silk and lace. It adds dimension to your flatlay and entices followers with the suggestion of touch.

Interested in learning additional tips on helping you with showcasing new products and inspiring followers? Check out our free Instagram eBook which will teach you how to implement the tried and true best practices that have made so many brands successful on Instagram.