The Gourmet Lens
Food Photography Tips and Tricks

Perfecting The Autumn Flat Lay

The Gourmet Lens Spiced Apple Drink

As we are well on our way into autumn I thought I would inspire you to create the perfect autumn flat lay for your Instagram and Pinterest pages. If you are anything like me at the start of each season you will be inspired by Instagram and Pinterest posts to see what is hot and what is not! Autumn is my favourite time of the year and I am inspired by the colour it produces in nature, the smell of autumnal spices and the amazing autumn recipes. It is an exciting time in my house and I can’t tell you how many jars of cinnamon get used up! 

For me, food photography is about telling a story and what better way than to convey your story than in a flat lay. When you see the whole story in one photograph it lets your imagination run wild! And I mean that in a good way. In my autumn flat lay I like to combine nature with raw ingredients as well as the finished product. Gathering your props is almost as exciting as making the finished product. So enjoy every step of producing the perfect autumn flat lay!

The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay

1. Plan your autumn flat lay

To make the perfect flat lay is really not as hard as you think! A little bit of planning goes a long way and helps save time later. What sort of story do you want to convey to your followers? Is it a story of nature, a special occasion or a recipe? I often have an idea in my mind and plan accordingly. In fact I am already planning in my head what my Christmas flat lay will be!

2. Choose a simple background 

Choose a simple background to best suit your subject. I knew I wanted to use a dark woody background to bring my props closer to nature and to highlight the colours of autumn. I used an old side table which is well used but perfect for my autumn flat lay. While I like to use dark coloured backgrounds over light if you want a lighter airy feel of autumn then go for a lighter background.

The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay
Setting my props and background

3. Choose your props to tell a story

This is always my favourite part. Gathering the autumn leaves and ingredients. Everything you see in the flat lay is made by me so look out for some exciting recipes coming this autumn! Try and choose leaves which show off the many colours of autumn. I gather the leaves the day before and press them in a thick book to flatten them. Reserve one or two to show some natural curves. Choose autumn coloured flowers at your local florist as these really can enhance your autumn flatly. I recommend Physalis, also known as Chinese lantern flowers. These look like mini pumpkins and instantly draw your eyes to the fact that it is autumn! Autumn chrysanthemums also work well as do autumn berries and buds.

The Gourmet Lens Autumn FlatlayThen there’s the ingredients. The obvious choice is apples and pumpkins but there are so many other ingredients that can proudly have a place on your autumn flat lay. 

The Gourmet Lens Autumn FlatlayYou may want to just show the finished product or show a number of steps to get there. How you make the recipe definitely tells a story!

The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay
Tell a story by showing your followers how you made the recipe through your pictures


4. Decide on the spacing between your props

Depending on what uses you want for your flat lay it is important to decide on the spacing between the props. If I want to use my flat lay to tell a complete story in one photograph then I make sure to fit everything on my flat lay. Try not to have it too cluttered to confuse your followers. In other flat lays I like to leave a space for a message which I can add later on Canva. I love Canva as there are so many options to enhance your creativity! I use it for Instagram posts and Insta stories not to mention the long photograph for Pinterest. Go check it out!

The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay
Leave a blank space to fill in a message
The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay
Hello Autumn!

4. Get your camera settings right from the start

When I started off in photography I thought I could just point and shoot and hope for the best. But I slowly realised that to get the most out of my food photography you can’t just click the button and hope you have an award winning photo. Whether you are using your phone camera or a DSLR get to know your camera settings. When I started to teach myself how to shoot in manual it changed my photography in a way I never imagined. When photographing your flat lay you will need a large depth of field to ensure everything is in focus. So that involves opening up the aperture between f/5.6 to f/8 as any lower will cause blurring in part of the photograph. Mobile phone cameras are perfect for flat lays as their small sensors enable a large depth of field. Then adjust your ISO and shutter speed according to the amount of diffused natural light you have. You may have to take a number of photos to get the perfect setting but once you practice you will get the hang of it!

6. Photograph next to natural light

When you shoot a food photograph in natural light it makes the photograph appear more real which is what you want your followers to think, that they are there with you living your story with you. This is why I almost always shoot in natural light. The problem is, you have to work fast at this time of year! In the autumn and winter seasons I recommend you take your flat lay photographs in the morning or early afternoon in natural diffused light. If it is a cloudy dull day then there is no need for a diffuser or white sheet, but avoid harsh sunshine at all costs as this will not reflect the true natural beauty of your photograph. What you need for your photograph when using natural light:

  • A table next to a window with natural light
  • A diffuser, white sheet or muslin to diffuse harsh light and therefore avoid harsh shadows
  • A white reflector or white card to reflect the light on harsh shadows
  • Black card to absorb bright light (I rarely use this in the Irish autumn weather!)

7. Make at least 4 different flat lay arrangements 

I take at least 4 different flat lay arrangements with different props to ensure I have the best one possible! What may look good to you at the time may not be the best one when you start to upload it onto your social media account. Choose the best one and keep the others for next year!

The Gourmet Lens Autumn Flatlay

8. Post editing if required

I usually have to tweak my photos in a small way whether it is enhancing the colours or adjusting the white balance. If you are using your phone camera for your pictures I recommend getting the Snapseed app. It is a simple and easy way to enhance your photos. If using a DSLR then you can’t go wrong with Adobe Lightroom. It is definitely the easiest and quickest way of editing your food photographs!

9. Autumn flat lay #Hashtags

No post would be complete without hashtags so here are my favourite, not to mention most popular hashtags to ensure your autumn story is seen! Feel free to copy and paste to your posts!

#autumn #autumnflatlay #autumncolors #autumn2018 #autumnweather #seasons #fall #autumntime #fallweather #leaffall  #nature #autumncolours  #autumndays #instaautumn #autumnstyle #autumnleaves #falltime #red #instafall #leaf #thisautumnlife #autumnal #orange #thatautumnmagic #autumncolourliving #chasingautumn #autumnmood #autumnfood #foliage #seasons #weheartautumn #fallobsessed #autumnvibes #autumnishere

Happy flat laying and Happy autumn! 🍁🍁🍁


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