A pair of jeans, a beanie, a watch and tulips on a bed.

Flat Lay Clothing Photography (Tips, Ideas & Setup)

There's a lot more to flat lay clothing photography than just laying out clothes on the floor. Check out our top tips for the best results.

Flat lay clothing photography is a fun contrast to the ordinary outfit-of-the-day type photos prevalent on Instagram and TikTok.

As opposed to breaking a sweat trying to beat the timer on your camera to capture your perfect outfit and pose, flat clothing photos allow you to capture every component of the outfit while showcasing your creativity.

This article will prove there are loads of ways to style clothing in flat lay photography, so let’s dive into some tips.

21 Flat Lay Photography Clothing Tips

1. Learn how to fold the clothes for flat lay images

A tan blazer, jeans, a tie and shoes.

Before we offer more specific tips, we need to start with the basics like folding clothes.

Folding clothes for flat lay photography is a crucial step in achieving stunning photos.

Let this photo by Benjamin Roscoe be your guide — the crisp, clean folds of the shirt, blazer, and jeans allow you to picture the outfit in its entirety while admiring the details of each item.

And the shoes tie the whole look together perfectly.

2. How to photograph flat lay jeans

Three pairs of levi's jeans on a black background.

This shot from MNZ Outfits is an ideal example of flat lay jeans photography!

Here, you see the brand, the pockets, and a variety of different jeans like you’d see in a department store.

If you want to show a single pair of jeans for your flat lay photography, I recommend laying them at a slight angle to simultaneously show the belt loops or button details at the top and a crisp cuff at the bottom.

3. How to photograph flat lay shirt

A navy t - shirt, shorts and sneakers on a white background.

You’ve learned how to fold jeans, so how about your flat lay shirt?

When it comes to tops, folding will depend on the design. Button-downs will typically be folded with the sleeves beneath the middle of the top to highlight the buttons and collar.

Sweatshirts can typically lay flat with each sleeve reaching out in an opposite direction to show their detail, while t-shirts look great laid flat without being folded as shown here by Merhiho, which allows you to see the sleeves, collar, and overall outfit all at once.

4. Choose the right background

A wooden clothes rack in a room with a plant.

While many flat lays are captured on the hardwoods or plush rugs that line our home floors, why not add a little interest with a clothing rack and a gorgeous background?

Clothing racks let you display your outfits in a unique way by using a mix of flat lays and hanging clothes.

Take this shot above from, which shows a minimalist, modern setting with an equally carefree beachy outfit.

The shoes and hat add the necessary accessories, while the plant adds some warmth.

5. Perfect your flat lay lighting to take photos without shadows


There are two solid methods to achieve good lighting for flat lay photography.

First, you can try indirect light through a big window that doesn’t have direct sunlight for soft, ambient lighting without shadows.

You can also use an off-camera flash to bounce the light off a white surface to replicate that window light.

Second, you can try direct lighting. This lighting style will bring bold colors and contrast through an off-camera flash.

Make sure to shoot with your light source at a 45-degree angle to avoid shadows! You can also use a reflector to soften direct light that feels too strong, as shown in this incredibly helpful video from Caroline Tran of Profoto US.

6. Show stacks

A stack of clothes on a white background.

Do you have a killer collection of trousers, shoes, or hats?

Showcasing an impressive collection of clothing or accessories is the perfect way to capture product photos and flat lay photos.

A flat lay doesn’t have to be complicated, as shown by this simple stack of pants from PDPics.

7. Use props

A suitcase, sandals, sunglasses, phone and camera on a wooden table.

Just as a professional photographer would do in their studio, don’t be afraid to use props!

Small trinkets add a playful touch when photographing clothing and can also tell your story without words.

This example from YS Travel really hits the mark here with beachy accessories and a little plane that indicates an impending trip!

8. Choose a theme

Hat, sunglasses, bottle and other items on a blue background.

Whether you are close to Halloween or simply love a coastal color palette, picking a theme is a smart way to get a fabulous flat lay.

The coastal theme is executed perfectly here by Spanish photographer, Marijana, and the vibrant blue background is a breath of fresh air!

9. Get festive

A cup of coffee and a pumpkin on a blanket.

Adding holiday décor is a great way to spruce up your flat lay photography!

Line flat lays with mini decorative pumpkins in the fall or place some pinecones inside shoes in the winter.

And don’t feel limited to that! This festive fall shot by Debby Hudson is a great source of creative inspo.

10. Get seasonal

A white ribbed sweater on a white wooden table.

Similar to the festive idea above, you can get seasonal to spruce up your flat lay!

This photo by Shelter shows how to effectively add life with greenery to an otherwise ordinary sweater shot.

Add a fresh plant in the spring or lay a bunch of blue hydrangeas or a sunflower next to your flat lay photography in the summer.

11. Add femininity

A pair of jeans, a beanie, a watch and tulips on a bed.

Why not add a soft feminine touch to your flat lay photography?

I love the simplicity of this classic jeans and sweater outfit elevated with a single flower — executed perfectly by Angela Bailey.

12. Use accessories wisely

A man's outfit on a wooden floor.

Using accessories strategically to create clean composition is another awesome way to enhance the look of your flat lay.

Take this photo above from NorWood Themes: the crisp lines created by the leather belt and watch break up the photo perfectly.

13. Go bold

Leopard print sandals and a magazine on a table.

As noted in the tip above, accessories not only make the outfit, they can really make an impact on flat lays.

As opposed to showing the whole look, try spotlighting some bold accessories as Social Cut did here.

14. Show real life moments

A hat, sunglasses and an open book on the grass.

While many flat lays tend to be staged at home, why not shake things up when you’re out and about?

If you’re catching some rays and curling up with a book, show off your latest read and your accessories as Dutch photographer, Ylanite has done here.

15. Capture baby outfits

A stack of pink baby clothes and shoes on a table.

Who said flat lays have to be exclusive to adults?

Baby clothes have gotten cuter and more custom over the years so you can definitely find joy in styling your new bundle of joy!

16. Display texture

A pile of pink and orange knitted blankets.

Sometimes, the best flay lays highlight a single item as Italian photographer, Luca has done here.

You can easily display a great collection of wool scarves and their detailed texture with careful placement by using the stacking method.

17. Add a pop

A striped tee, skirt and shoes on a wooden floor.

If you’re showcasing a neutral outfit, add a pop with a prop or an accessory.

I love how the orange spine of the book adds a playful punch to the classic black and white outfit captured here by Toa Heftiba.

18. Use the best focal length for flat lay clothing photography

A person holding a camera lens in front of a tree.

There are tons of fun styling tips in this article, so I want to make sure we close with some more technical tips, like focal length.

Typically, 50mm with a minimum shutter speed of 1/100 of a second is preferred for flat lay photography because a slower shutter speed could result in a distorted flat lay shot.

19. Use the best aperture for flat lay clothing photography

A close up of a camera lens.

The experts at Adobe say a narrow aperture is best for flat lay photographs, and I agree!

I recommend between f/4 and f/11 to ensure everything stays sharp.

20. How to best edit flat lays

A man working on a computer in front of a monitor.

Naturally, photo editing software is preferred to achieve the highest quality flat lay photography.

Whether you decide on Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you’ll be able to easily edit photos as a beginner or expert.

And if you want to keep it simple, you can use your phone’s built-in photo editor to sharpen your final image.

21. Choose a unique setting

A brown leather tote bag with sunglasses and sunglasses on the sand.

When it comes to flat lay photography, choosing the right background is crucial! You’ll of course want plenty of natural light and enough space, but you’ll also want a background, i.e., a flat surface, that complements your outfit.

Hardwood floors can add a warm, rustic element to flat lay photography, while a neutral background in the form of a rug or carpet can soften more vibrant looks.

Or try a marble background to add visual interest to an otherwise basic tan or white outfit.

If you’re planning a trip to the coast in the near future, be sure to use the white sand, your hotel room key, and a beach tote to elevate your flat lay photography as Kevs did here!

What are Some Creative Flat Lay Clothing Photography Ideas?

A pair of sneakers, a hoodie and a pair of sunglasses on a pink background.

Flat lays don’t have to mean dressing up. Try a sporty flat lay as Tamas Pap does here.

A pair of sandals, a scarf and a bag on a white surface.

Picking a single color in a creative way as Social Cut does here through texture puts a fun spin on a monochrome flat lay.

A pile of jeans stacked on top of each other.

Try mixing up your angles when you need flat lay inspo, as Leighann Blackwood does here to add a fun twist to a basic stack of jeans.

A stack of knitted sweaters on a white chair.

Flat lays don’t have to be limited to the ground! Try using a chair as Swiss designer, Bar does here.

A baby's pajamas and hat on a pink background.

Try picking a side or corner to lay your clothes down as fezailc does here, as opposed to having them take up the whole background.

How Can I Take Flat Lay Clothing Photos with My iPhone?

Because the essence of flat lay is more about the clothing, accessories, and composition rather than your gear, a flat lay photo can easily be accomplished from your iPhone when you follow these steps:

  • Choose your space — You’ll need plenty of natural light to score the best flay lay shots, so pick your room accordingly.
  • Choose your background  There are tons of options here for any project and budget whether you use a cardboard box with the front and one side cut off or vinyl backgrounds. You can use poster boards as reflectors within the box if you decide to go that route, as shown about 3.5 minutes into this video.
  • Choose your approach — You can carefully take photos above your flat lay if you’ve got a steady hand and can stay parallel to the flat surface. Otherwise, I suggest a tripod for that perfect top angle.
  • Adjust your iPhone camera settings — Start by using the Photos app to increase highlights and minimize shadows. You can also easily dial back Auto Enhance’s intensity. Just make sure to make minor adjustments to maintain that striking, two-dimensional look that you can consistently replicate across future photos.

What Are Some Mobile Apps I Can Use for Flat Lays?

  • Snapseed is one of the easiest and most effective ways to enhance your flat lays.
  • YouCamPefect is another excellent photo editor for high-quality, detailed flay lay shots.
  • VSCO has professional-level HB1 and HB2 filters that instantly boost your flat lay photo.
  • FLATLAY has a name that speaks for itself, but it’s great for product and flat lay photos and is full of offers when you win points.

FAQs About Flat Lay Clothing Photography

What is flat lay clothing photography?

Flat lay clothing photography is a style of photography where clothing items and accessories are arranged on a flat surface and captured from a bird’s-eye view perspective. This approach allows for visually appealing compositions that showcase clothing details without the need for models or mannequins.

What equipment do I need for flat lay clothing photography?

You will need a camera with a suitable lens, a stable tripod, lighting equipment (natural or artificial), and a variety of backgrounds or surfaces to complement the clothing items.

What are the benefits of flat lay clothing photography?

Flat lay photography presents clothing items in a clutter-free and aesthetically pleasing way. It allows viewers to see multiple pieces at once and effectively showcases textures and details, making it ideal for e-commerce, fashion blogs, and social media.

What backgrounds and surfaces work best for flat lay clothing photography?

Various backgrounds and surfaces can be used, such as marble, wooden boards, fabrics, or seamless paper. Choose those that complement the clothing items and enhance the overall visual appeal.

How can I make my flat lay clothing compositions more engaging?

Experiment with different styling techniques, layering, and textures to add depth and interest to your flat lay images. Incorporate props and accessories that complement the clothing to create visually compelling compositions.

What camera angles should I use for flat lay clothing photography?

Shoot from a perfect bird’s-eye view perspective to achieve clean and captivating flat lay images. Adjust the camera height and angles to find the best composition for each setup.

What lighting setup is recommended for flat lay clothing photography?

Consider using diffused natural light or artificial lighting with softboxes to achieve even illumination and reduce harsh shadows. Proper lighting is crucial for showcasing clothing details and colors accurately.

Should I shoot in RAW format for flat lay clothing photography?

Yes, shooting in RAW format allows for greater flexibility during post-processing and ensures you can preserve all the image details and make necessary adjustments without loss of quality.

How can I add a personal touch to my flat lay clothing photography?

Infuse your unique style and personality into the compositions. Experiment with creative ideas, themes, and storytelling to create flat lays that reflect your artistic vision.

What post-processing steps should I consider for flat lay clothing images?

Use image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to enhance colors, contrast, and sharpness. Make sure to maintain a natural look while refining the images for a polished and professional finish.

Where can I use flat lay clothing photography?

Flat lay clothing photography is versatile and can be used for e-commerce websites, social media marketing, fashion blogs, lookbooks, branding materials, and more. Its clean and engaging style appeals to a wide audience.

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Dana is a passionate lifestyle photographer and professional writer. When she isn’t working with designers and creative directors at photoshoots, she can be found using her Fujifilm or Nikon cameras out in the wild, capturing elements of fashion and nature.

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