How to make an instagram-style flat lay collage

Flat lay collages of your clothing are perfect for giving your customers inspiration in a simple, beautiful way. In this tutorial, we will show you how to make an modern looking collage for a social media post, magazine or your online store in a matter of minutes.

Taking a scroll through Instagram, you will see hundreds of brands, fashion stylists and photographers posting gorgeously laid out flat lay collages of their clothes. This is done to convey a certain look or style inspiration with matching jeans, hats, shirts - whatever looks good - laid out in an appealing, cohesive way.

Read on to learn more about making a flat lay photography collage, but first, let’s make sure you have everything you need to get the right shot:

What you need to make great flat lay collages

  • Camera - Any camera will suffice but a Canon EOS 5D Mk III is recommended as the industry-standard for professional product photography
  • Your apparel - Select a number of your products that you feel fit in with a consistent, appealing style
  • Studio lighting - A source of continuous cool LED lamps are recommended for lighting to ensure exposure, shadows and contrast are kept consistent
  • Flat white surface - A flat, white surface allows you to put text over your products but you can also experiment with different colours and backgrounds

1. Choose your look and inspiration

An effective flat lay collage should inspire and give viewers inspiration for their own style. In this example, we’ll be taking a clean, fashionable spring/summer look and laying it out in the most appealing way. 

Of course, there are hundreds of different looks and styles to choose from when designing a flat lay collage, so choose what speaks to your target audience and make notes of current fashion trends to stay ahead of the loop. 

For the inspiration in this tutorial, we’re imagining a young guy going for a walk around the park: relaxed, casual and fashionable. 


2. Picture your final collage

This is of course where your creativity needs to shine. So in your head, visualise what you’re trying to make and create spaces for your still life products to draw attention. 

Sometimes, less is more, so don’t try and cram too many things into the frame. You should allow for your products to breathe and fit seamlessly over each other without causing too much of a ‘frantic’ messy look. 


3. Fold neatly and shape creatively

Good flat lay collages make great uses of interesting angles. In this example, we have folded a blazer neatly sideways to show it in profile. The lines should be relatively straight, making use of interesting shapes to make your garments stand out. 

You can also see the same thing has been done with a pair of jeans. Simply, fold the clothes around each other in a neat, clean manner. 


4. Add details for flair

In our spring/summer casual look, we’re anticipating that our ‘guy around town’ might be a bit of a gadget freak so we’ve added some things like an iPhone into the pocket and some headphones. Simply, ensure that these accessories add flair and don’t look too messy.

Adding details like these adds flavor and you can really speak to your audience by understanding what types of accessories they like - or which ones would look great with their outfit and style.


5. Style and experiment

Break out your kit of styling essentials to help your products stand out in a more professional, stylish manner. Use things like tissue to add depth and shadowing below certain garments — in this example, we’ve added some tissue underneath the jeans to give the illusion of more depth. 

Of course, where’s the fun without a little experimentation, right? Liberate yourself from constraints and take a wide variety of shots with different layouts to find the one that’s just right. The more time you spend experimenting, the more likely it is you’ll find a style that breathes your brand’s values. 


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Stephen Warr