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I’m certainly not a photographer by any means (that is more of The Bloke’s passion than mine), but one of the things that I enjoy doing in my free time is experimenting with props and different flat lay images that I can use for my blog and social media.
I’ve written about creating beautiful flat lay images before, but this was more about the process of how to set them up. Since then, I’ve received lots of questions asking about prop and budget ideas from others who want to create their own but don’t want to spend a fortune doing so.
There’s a million different advice posts and tutorials on the subject, but what I’ve discovered when trawling through a some of them is that many have splashed out on different lighting rigs and light boxes, backdrops and props and use an expensive SLR camera.
From personal experience, this isn’t necessary. My flat lay images are created using cheap props that I already have at home or have purchased from pound stores or charity shops. I photograph them on my phone and then use the iPhone editing tools available. That’s it. No fuss, no expense.
Here are some ideas for cheap props that can be used to create beautiful images for you blog or Instagram.
Backdrops and Light
I normally use the large bay window in my front room when taking images, but if I need a little more light I use the
GODOX LED Lightsthat The Bloke uses for his photography.
Wallpaper – I obtained a white roll of paper in a sale from a local hardware store for 99p and have a selection of patterned sheets of paper that I bought for less that £1.oo from a craft store.
The floor – I used the kitchen floor at a friend’s house to create the image on the right
Park bench – just make sure that it hasn’t recently rained!
Paper bags – I often use a brown paper bag in my flat lay images
Basic Prop Ideas
Notebooks – Small notebooks can be obtained from craft, card and stationery stores and supermarkets. I have managed to amass a large collection in different colours over a number of years and so I use many of those in my flat lays.
Pens / Pencils / Fineliners and Coloured Fine Liners / Pencil Crayons / Felt Tips – I use my Bullet journal stationery that was given to me as a gift, but I also pens in different colours that were purchased at Poundland for £1.00
Post-Its / Coloured Paper / Scissors / Paper Clips
Postcards – bought from Paperchase for 75p and created some of my own by ordering Polaroid images from Photobox.
Glitter / Buttons / Confetti / Craft Jewels / Ribbon – all can be purchased from local markets, supermarkets and craft stores for a minimal amount.
Make-Up – I will often use my own collection to avoid spending any money on more products (not that I particularly need another excuse!), but I have been able to add to it by buying various products for less than £1.00 from my local market and a small perfume during the January Sales.
Hair Products / Hair Ties / Brushes / Clips – all of which I have around the house.
Glasses and Sunglasses
Jewellery – I use costume jewellery that I have collected over the years, but they can be obtained from charity shops for almost nothing
Bath Products / Sponge / Exfoliator / Soaps – all purchased during sales and are for personal use.
Flowers – Fake Flowers can be purchased from Amazon (click on the Fake Flowers link for a fabulous deal on artificial flowers), ebay, garden and craft stores for a cheap price. I usually prefer to use real flowers – I bought the flowers used in this picture from Aldi for £1.89 and once I finished using them I put the remaining ones in a vase.
Old Cameras and Photography Equipment
Technology – I utilise the equipment that I already own, which is why I am including it in the list. I often use my old iPhone 4 that no longer works, my iPad, a bluetooth keyboard and a laptop as a useful props. I also borrow more advanced pieces of technology from friends to use in images blog focused images.
Kitchen Utensils and Crockery – Cups / Saucers / Wine Glasses / Coasters / Bowls are often the most useful things in various images.
Food & Drink – coffee / clear ice cubes (made with boiled water so it stays clear) / fruit (citrus fruits are very effective) / macarons / cupcakes / pieces of chocolate
Passport / Travel Paper
When creating blog and Instagram images it’s useful to try and create a theme not only with the products that you use, but the post itself. Check out my post on Creating Beautiful Flat Lay Images by clicking on the link here. Here’s a few examples of the sort of images you can create with just a few basic props. Image Four is a beautiful idea created by my ridiculously talented Sister-in-Law, Deborah Fletcher
Want to follow me on social media? You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.
Suzie Speaks is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk
Absolutely gorgeous and great ideas! Thank you!
I had no idea Deb is your sister-in-law! I’ve followed Deb for a good bit now. Awesome! ❤️😎
Yeah, The Bloke is her brother… She’s so talented!
I see that, Suzie! I love Deb’s photography. I hope you are feeling better now. 😎
My old wooden table is a fave for a backdrop as is my chopping board! You have given me some awesome ideas though, using things I already have but never thought of! Thanks Suzie!
Ooh chopping boards are so useful!
They really are!
That’s very inspiring Suzie. I am hobby photographer and like your ideas.
What also works are close-up shots of computer keyboards (when your post is about writing/blogging). I shot tons of photos of different keyboards (laugh). At friends home, family, my own. These images always work for blogging or technology related subjects. As long as it is related to the post, a lot of different ideas come to mind.
But I really like your ideas, it’s a bit more creative and I will try this out too! Thanks for the inspiration.
Ooh definitely. I have a Bluetooth keyboard that I use in lots of images – it’s so useful!
Thanks for another fabulous share, Suzie! 🙂
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I’ve got a few wallpaper samples rolled up for my backgrounds (wood effect, marble etc), free from B&Q.
I see people planning to spend a fortune on different backgrounds and I don’t understand why when you can get them for free!
Love this! I’ve been taking pictures of my recent meals (no, not for Instagram!!) as I embark on my elimination nutrition plan and gluten free lifestyle. The meals have been great but the pics don’t do them justice (I also accept that I’m no Nigella!!) I’m going to use your tips to see if I can do any better!
I’ve really enjoyed hearing about your journey with your elimination diet – so interesting! Looking forward to seeing the pics!
Some great ideas here Suzie…A lovely post 🙂 x
Reblogged this on Viv Drewa – The Owl Lady.
Reblogged this on Claire Plaisted – Indie Author and commented:
Some lovely ideas here 🙂
This is such a useful post, Suzie. I also have bought some handmade paper sheets that I use for my food photographs. I’m going to use some of your ideas to further better my pictures and not burn a hole in my wallet. Bookmarking this post.
Thanks Rachna! I know that people spend a fortune on props and lighting but you really don’t need to!
This is soooo helpful and the photographs look amazing! I am building up to do a flat lay one day!! Jx
Thanks Jill! It’s a lot easier than it looks when you get the hang of it!
Such creative ideas here! Thanks for sharing. I feel inspired. 🙂
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Thanks for all you have done with us on BUYB – this weeks’s Monday Magic is for you and Em! xxx
Thanks so much lovely, really appreciate it!
Keep in touch!!
And you lovely!