THE ART OF A GOOD FLAT LAY

I love a supplier challenge day! It’s an opportunity to have some fun, get creative, learn something new and hang out with some amazing suppliers.

If you haven’t been following my supplier challenges and wondering what on earth they are, it’s basically an idea I had a few years ago. When work isn’t too busy, I go and spend the day with a supplier and have a go at what they do. Sounds easy enough, hey!

I do this for a number of reasons;

Networking – it’s great to catch up with old friends or make new ones

Education – I never stop learning and by immersing myself in their speciality for the day, it can really teach me more about the product or service they provide and therefore helps me to plan my client’s weddings better. And I suppose, at the same time, these blog posts can help education couples planning their own weddings, to understand a little more about the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes, to create their perfect day.

Fun – and why not. It’s great coming away from the desk for the day, clear my mind and do something different

Blog content – because we all know we should be writing them…

Today’s supplier challenge is all about the art of a good flat lay and who doesn’t love a good flat lay? I’ve been stalking Gyan Gurung on Instagram for a while now and he’s been stalking me back! We were planning on getting together to talk about work when we had the idea of doing a supplier challenge at the same time. Networking and playing all in one go!

One of Gyan’s Insta stories grabbed my attention: he was at a wedding and in the morning, he took time out to photograph the “details”. He had popped outside for good light, whipped out a piece of fabric as a backdrop and began to arrange stationery, rings, flowers; all so beautifully.

Not all photographers add this element to their repertoire on the day. To be honest, the day is so jam packed it’s hard to find the time, but Gyan loves the whole story of the wedding so much that he rocks up an hour early, during the bridal prep to capture this element to add to his collection. He pre-plans this with the client, and sometimes has the invitation suite posted to him before hand to give him time to prepare for the flat lay – what backdrop colour, texture etc, which styling accessories to use, and so on. It’s not a spontaneous photo opportunity, but a carefully considered and beautifully executed activity.

We arrive at Wedhead’s head quarters in Northampton, who are kindly letting us use their incredible warehouse as our setting for this challenge. After far too long nattering (but who cares, this was just as an important part of the challenge as the challenge itself – I LOVE Gyan’s work and would love to work with him, so to be confident in recommending him to my client’s it’s important I can tell them that a photographers work is not only great, but they are wonderful people too. That’s what couples buy in to and I can safely say that Gyan is literally a walking ray of sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever met such a happy and genuine person; you can’t help but smile around him. And isn’t that what you want on your wedding day!)

I’ve brought with me a BIG bag of goodies. If we are going to do flat lays, I want to create inspirational images that resonate with my style, brand and clientele. So, we have gorgeous rings from The London Victorian Ring Company (who’s pieces I just love and will definitely be asking them to design me a ring in the future) and the most incredible stationery by Laura E Patrick, who’s work is so beautiful; she has the fine art wedding look down to a tee. I have pretty floral pieces from Petal and Stalk, I just love going in their shop; it’s a little treasure trove. And I’ve brought along with me some really nice designer accessories: Grooms Gucci shoes, Prada bow tie and cufflinks and Gianvito Rossi ladies sandals. Everything that Gyan might have to hand on a wedding day morning.

After getting everything out and making a “creative” mess, Gyan starts to explain his decision for the backdrop. It’s about choosing a colour that compliments the pieces he wants to photograph. If the pieces are really detailed, then a plain background usually works better, or a simpler stationery suite might lend itself to having a textured background. Using a colour palette that works with the florals and invitation keeps a consistent look.

We’ve chosen our backdrop; I’ve gone with a smooth pale grey board because the stationery suite I want to photograph is in similar muted tones, but the envelope liner is incredibly detailed, and I don’t want to detract from this element by having an overly complicated backing. The next thing to do is to select little accent pieces that will tie the key pieces together. I’m going to put the engagement ring into a pale grey velvet antique ring box, which looks great with the envelope and I’ve picked out (from Gyan’s little box of tricks) a beautiful bobbin of silk ribbon.

Once we set up near a window to get the best natural light, we start to lay things out. Now here’s the interesting bit, Gyan has a technique to add depth to the flat lay. By adding a little height to some of the items, you bring a key piece closer and create an interesting shadow behind the item. You can see in the two images below the difference between lifting and not, and what a difference it makes…

We’ve created our set up in a way that draws the eye into the picture and around to the little details. It’s creating a collection of items, placed in a format that flows. I think that having a creative eye helps, but it’s certainly trial and error. Start with a larger, key piece and set up little accents around it. Step back and look at the overall flat lay and even photograph it to see how it will look framed by a camera. Then tweak and move things until you are happy.

For our “feminine” set up we added more detail but kept the “masculine” look quite simple, which suited the large items Gyan was photographing.

I think these are a great addition to a client’s wedding album and seeing how much fun it is to play with styling bits, just shows how easily creatives can do this at home to photographing beautiful social media content of their own. This added bonus from Gyan’s service just shows the love, time and dedication that goes in to creating these precious heirlooms and help tell the story of your whole wedding. I love it and will certainly be adding flat lays to my wedding day task list! Thank you Gyan for such a wonderful day and for such incredible images. x

With special thanks to:

PHOTOGRAPHER

Gyan Gurung

https://www.instagram.com/gyangurungphoto

https://www.facebook.com/gyangurungphotography/

STATIONERY

Laura E Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/pg/lauraelizabethpatrickcalligraphy

https://www.instagram.com/lauraelizabethpatrick

RINGS

London Victorian Ring Co

https://www.facebook.com/londonvictorianring/

https://www.instagram.com/london_victorian_ring_co

FLOWERS

Petal and Stalk

https://www.instagram.com/petalandstalkflorist

https://www.facebook.com/Petalandstalk/

LOCATION

Wedhead

https://www.facebook.com/wedheadlondon/

https://www.instagram.com/wedhead_london

ME

Natalie Hewitt

https://www.facebook.com/NatalieHewittWeddingsAndEvents

https://www.instagram.com/nataliehewittweddings