7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos

7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos, flatlay, flatlay photography, giant coffee phoenix arizona-www.rachelsmak.com8.jpg

If you’re hooked on Instagram like myself, you know that Instagram is an amazing platform to grow a following, spread the word about your business or promote your personal brand. A huge part of attracting the right clientele or increasing your following is the quality of the photos you’re posting to your feed. Today I’m breaking down the cool-girl flat lay trend the “it” way to showcase anything and everything from your morning coffee accompaniments to your travel essential must-haves. Follow these 7 flat lay tricks and your feed will go from blah to pro in no time!


Maybe you live in an apartment where the floors have seen their better days or the kitchen countertops hail from the bygone decade, whatever the case the first step to taking better Instagram photos is finding a simple basic backdrop. The best part is, it doesn’t have to be very expensive or hard! 

For the majority of the flat lay images I post on Instagram, I use a sturdy white 20” X 30” foam board I picked up from office depot. If you wanna get extra fancy with your curated photos, you can also purchase self-adhesive marble contact paper and adhere that to a piece of cardboard or foam board for a granite countertop look. I’ve included links here for both my go-to foam boards and contact paper!

You could also use a furry white throw blanket or even a map of your favorite destination as a backdrop for your flat lay.


Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. The wrong kind of lighting can cast shadows or disrupt the overall feel of your flat lay with too harsh or too dim of light. I shoot all of my flat lay images with natural light on a table next to a window, on the floor near a glass patio door, or outside on an overcast day. 

7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos, flatlay, flatlay photography, giant coffee phoenix arizona-www.rachelsmak.com4.jpg


The trick with flat lays is achieving the right framing and balance. Your flat lay should prominently feature a main item and you can add in other smaller accessories and accents to add interest and help tell your narrative. Their is a lot of handiwork involved in creating these elegantly disheveled masterpieces and styling items to look like they just fell perfectly onto your desk so experiment and rearrange until you get your perfect snap! Just remember less is more most of the time which leads us to trick number 4…

7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos, flatlay, flatlay photography, giant coffee phoenix arizona-www.rachelsmak.com5.jpg


Sometimes it’s a good idea to give your grid or even your image some room to “breath”. Negative space has been used in art, design, architecture, sculpture, and photography for hundreds of years so creating a flat lay that has negative space will help keep your feed clean and keep your viewers from getting overwhelmed. EMBRACE THAT SPACE!


Flat lays are another way to tell a visual story, so when you choose a theme stick to it and avoid throwing in embellishments that stray from whatever story you are trying to narrate. Whether it’s brand orientated, foodie inspired or a shot of your daily workspace, each element should make sense when combined as a whole. 

7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos, flatlay, flatlay photography, giant coffee phoenix arizona-www.rachelsmak.com7.jpg


My friends all laugh at me when I hand a stranger my phone and ask them to take a photo of us because they know I’m about to ask this poor stranger to take not one but several photos of our group. I usually mutter something like “just take like 10 photos”. When taking photos for anything especially when you’re working on upping your curating game keep snapping away until your camera roll or memory card is filled. The most important part of a flat lay photo is quality. A flat lay photo with poor quality doesn’t compare to a flat lay image with great quality. The difference that lighting, sharpness, focus, framing, and styling makes is huge. Play around with it, have fun with your flat lays moving objects around, adding in accent pieces to see what works. Give your self enough time, space and grace to create that perfect shot. Flat lays are a series of trial and error adjusting and readjusting as you go along to find out what works but don’t forget to have fun during the creative process because if it’s not fun then why are you doing it in the first place?!



You’ve set up your foam board, stylized your perfect shot and now the final step in taking that perfect flat lay photo is getting above the spread you have created for the perfect bird's eye view. Get up on a chair no matter how silly or stupid you may feel or think you look and take that shot! Whether you are rocking out with a professional DSLR camera or your iPhone the right angle will take your snap from amateur Instagrammer to influencer in no time! 

Happy creating! 

Click here to download 7 FREE flat lay photos you can start using to up your Instagram game!

7 Hacks to Capture Better Instagram Photos, flatlay, flatlay photography, giant coffee phoenix arizona-www.rachelsmak.com6.jpg