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Information focused on eCommerce product image editing & post-production

Photo Retouching Tricks for Flat Lay Product Photography

flat lay photography

The heart of flat lay product photography lies in displaying your items in the most eye-catching manner. A captivating flat lay picture tells a tale through its items, colours, and arrangement. Its fame has skyrocketed lately, often seen on many social media platforms.

In fashion, a flat lay is an image composed of clothing and accessories arranged on a surface, with the photographer shooting from directly above. It can be quite challenging to make everything look good together, but it’s worth the effort to get your flat lay photography right.

You don’t need any fancy equipment or props with flat-lay product photography. All you need is a camera, a tripod, and a good surface to shoot on. It’s also versatile–you can use a flat lay for both product shots and lifestyle shots. It’s also great for Instagram posts and stories.

Also, flat lay photos often have a whimsical, artsy feel. They can be fun and lighthearted or moody and dramatic. It all depends on how you style the shot.

While most flat lay product photos look good on their own, photo retouching can make it look amazing. A few simple tweaks in Photoshop can make your flat lay photos pop.

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What is Flat Lay Photography?

A flat lay is a picture taken straight from the top – a bird’s eye view of a collection of meticulously placed things. It has been in trend in fashion and product photography in the past few years, and for good reason! When done correctly, a flat lay can be powerful, telling a story or showcasing a theme all on its own.

However, flat lay isn’t just about shooting from above. It’s also about pointing your camera straight down. As a result, if the photo is slanted in any way, it cannot be classified a flat lay.

When shooting flat lays, you need to stand on a step ladder and take pictures from above. If you’re taking a lot of photographs, we recommend using a tripod that can point your camera straight down.

The surface you use is also important. It should be flat, and it should complement the items in the photo. A plain white background is usually best, but you can get creative with surfaces as well. Just make sure that whatever you use, it doesn’t take the focus away from the products.

setting up tshirt flat lay photography

Props are another vital element of a flat lay. They can be used to add texture, contrast, and interest to the photo. Common props include plants, books, jewelry, and sunglasses.

It doesn’t take a lot of props and accessories to make a flat lay work. Sometimes the simplest flat lays are the best. Just a few well-chosen items can make a big impact.

The secret to taking excellent flat lays is to make sure your camera is pointed downward at a 90° angle. You can use your tripod’s spirit level to check for accuracy, or you can just estimate your camera’s perspective. If you’re not sure, it’s always better to take the photo from a slightly elevated position. This will give you a little wiggle room to adjust the camera if needed.

Once you’ve got your camera in position, it’s time to start styling the shot. This is where your creativity comes into play. First, think about what story you want to tell with your flat lay, and then choose items that will help convey that message.

You can use anything as a backdrop – a table, the floor, a bedsheet – but we recommend using a neutral-colored surface so that it doesn’t clash with your objects. If you’re shooting for Instagram, a white background is always a good choice.

Once you’ve got your background sorted, it’s time to start placing your items. The key here is to create balance and visual interest. Try not to overload the photo with too many things, and be sure to leave some negative space. You can use props to fill in empty areas or just let the products speak for themselves.

When you’re happy with the way your flat lay looks, it’s time to take the photo. If you’re using a DSLR, we recommend you use a low ISO (100-200) to avoid grainy photos and use a high shutter speed (1/125 to 1/250) to avoid blurry images. If you’re using a smartphone, just make sure the camera is level with the surface.

Once you’ve taken your photo, it’s time to edit! This is where you can really bring your vision to life. A few simple retouching techniques in Photoshop or Lightroom can make a big difference.

flat lay photo editing

Flat Product Photo Retouching Must-Haves

Product photo retouching is editing product photos to make them look their best. This can include removing hairs and imperfections to adding shadows and highlights. In the fashion e-commerce industry, product photo retouching plays a valuable role in making clothing products look their best.

Product photo retouching is a necessary part of any flat lay photography workflow. Even the most perfectly composed and styled flat lay will benefit from a little bit of retouching.

There are a few essential elements of product photo retouching for every flat lay photo edit.

jacket flat lay photography setup

Retouching for lay-downs and pin-ups

Retouching for lay-downs and pin-ups
When it comes to retouching flat lay photos, professional editors use two main techniques: lay-downs and pin-ups.

Retouching Lay-downs
This method is best for retouching photos with many products. It’s also great for removing unwanted objects from the image, like stray hairs or specks of dust. In fashion, this is used to remove wrinkles from clothing.

To do a lay-down, simply duplicate the layer you’re working on and set the top layer to “Screen.” Then, use a soft eraser brush to erase any imperfections on the top layer. This will allow the underlying layer to show through, giving the impression that the imperfections have been removed.

Next, use the Healing Brush tool to remove any unnecessary details.

Finally, use the Dodge and Burn tools to add contrast and make your products pop.


Retouching Pin-ups
This method is best for retouching photos with a few products. It’s also great for adding some depth and dimension to your products. In fashion, this gives clothing a “floating” effect. 

To start:

  1. Open your photo in Photoshop and create a new layer.
  2. Use the Brush tool to paint over the products.
  3. Make sure you use a dark color to create a shadow effect.

Next, use the Burn tool to darken the edges of the products. Finally, use the Dodge tool to add some highlights.

And that’s it! With just a few simple steps, you can take your flat lay photos from good to great. So get out there and start shooting!


clothing retouching dust and hair removal

Corrections and Cleanup

Sample product photos are anything but perfect that’s why corrections and cleanup are necessary. These imperfections can ruin an otherwise perfect fashion photo, whether it be a stray hair, a smudge, or a hole in the fabric. This can be the difference between a sale and a bounce for online stores.

Here are some of the most common imperfections you’ll encounter in flat-lay product photography and how to fix them:

Stray hairs
Stray hairs are one of the most common imperfections in flat-lay product photography. They’re also one of the easiest to fix. The Clone Stamp tool is then used to clone over the stray hair. Make sure you use a soft brush to blend in with the surrounding area.

Smudges can be caused by anything from fingerprints to makeup. They’re also one of the most difficult imperfections to fix. The best way to remove a smudge is to use the Healing Brush tool. First, create a new layer and set it to “Screen.” Then, use the Healing Brush tool to clone over the smudge.

Make sure you use a soft brush and sample from an area that matches the texture of the smudge. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a noticeable patch.

Holes are another common imperfection in flat-lay product photography. Holes can be caused by anything from a torn label to a hole in the fabric. The best way to fix a hole is to use the Clone Stamp tool. First, create a new layer and set it to “Screen.” You can then use the Clone Stamp tool to clone over the hole.

Again, make sure you use a soft brush and sample from an area that matches the texture of the hole. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a noticeable patch.


shadow on flat lay photography

Shadows Keep the “Float” Illusion at Bay

When it comes to product photography, the float illusion is frowned upon. If you cut out the shadow while clipping or removing the background, your product will look like it’s floating on a white page. This also creates an unfinished look as if the product was just placed on the page without any thought or care. The result is a photo that feels cold and lifeless. Shadows are fundamental for providing form and context to your image. The human eye expects them, therefore they must be there.

According to statistics, about 75% of online customers use product pictures when assessing a potential purchase. This means that if your product photos don’t look good, you could be losing out on a lot of sales.
If you want your photos to look natural and inviting, keep the shadows intact. With photo retouching, this can be done by using the Burn tool. First, create a new layer and set it to “Multiply.” Then, use the Burn tool to darken the edges of the products.

This will give your products a natural shadow and make them look like they’re sitting on the surface.

Symmetry and Consistency in Shape

According to statistics, 90% of online customers consider picture quality to be the most essential element in an online transaction. One way to make sure your photos look good is to pay attention to the symmetry and consistency of the shape. This means that each product should be the same size and shape.

Before you take pictures of your products, create a style guide that outlines how they will be displayed. The most popular ways to style clothing are flat and symmetrical.

For example, to make a shirt properly match a jacket, lay it flat and check that the various points of the sleeves are the same distance from the body on both sides: at the shoulders, armpits, elbows, and cuffs.
Photo retouching allows you to refine the symmetry of your products further. The Liquify tool is perfect for this. Simply select the area you want to symmetrize and use the forward warp tool to push and pull the pixels into place.

This will give your product a more polished look and make it appear more symmetrical.

background removal

Background, Cropping, Alignment, and Margins

Consistent product images also improve the customer experience making it easier for shoppers to decide on their purchase.

Consistency in terms of how your product images look is also essential for branding. A consistent product image helps customers easily recognize your brand. It also reinforces the idea that your products are high-quality and trustworthy.

Here are a few tips to make sure your photos are consistent:

  • Use the same or similar background or background theme for all photos
  • Crop all photos to the same size (height and width)
  • Align all products in the center of the frame and should occupy the same amount of space in the frame
  • Make sure there is a consistent margin around the product in the photo

Photo retouching can help you achieve this level of consistency. The Crop tool is perfect for cropping your images to the same size. And, the Alignment tool can help you align your product within the frame.

Once your product is cropped and aligned, you can use the Margin tool to add margins around the product. This will give your photos a more professional look and feel.

Outsource Flat Product Photo Retouching to Pixel by Hand

Got no time to retouch your own flat lay photos? we can do it for you!

At Pixel by Hand, we specialize in product photo retouching. We can remove any unwanted blemishes or imperfections, and make your products look their best. We take pride in having a quick turnaround time (which is usually within 24 hours or less).

Please contact us today or use the chatbox below to learn more about our flat-lay product photo retouching services. We would be happy to answer any of your questions.


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Get started with a Free Trial of our product photo retouching service or if you have any questions simply click Ask A Question to get started.

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