Let’s face it. Taking pictures of pieces of paper just isn’t the same as capturing an adoring couple on the biggest day of their life.
But there is a difference between good stationery photography and GREAT stationery photography – and whether you’re a professional wedding photographer or a stationer looking to expand your image portfolio, I’m here to let you in on all of my secret tips for achieving swoon-worthy photos of stationery!
o1 – Choosing a Surface
This should be obvious, but I’ll go there anyway – ya need something to put your stationery ON before you photograph it. Now, what that something is…well that’s up to you.
Here are a few helpful hints when selecting a backdrop for photographing stationery:
- Choose a neutral color that compliments the colors of the invitation. Bright & bold is OK as long as it still allows the invitation to shine!
- Avoid super-busy patterns, they just eat up those invitations and the photo becomes all about the pattern.
- Texture is always welcome, but make sure it doesn’t compete with the invitation vibe. A busy texture plus a busy invitation only make for stressed out eyeballs.
- It should be relatively flat – iron out any wrinkles and make sure you have a clear, well-lit space to lay it on
- Avoid using shiny materials, as they also compete with the invitation for your eye’s attention.
You’ll want something about 2′ x 3′ to give your invitations enough room to breathe. And here are a few of my favorite items to use as backdrops for photographing my stationery:
- White poster board (the not shiny side works best)
- Upholstery fabric – it’s usually fairly sturdy so I don’t have to iron it too much and comes in mild colors/patterns/textures that compliment a wide range of invitation color palettes
- Velvet, suede, & velour – have a rich feel, also don’t require a ton of ironing
- Muslin – very inexpensive and has a linen look, it will force you to become best friends with your iron
- Vinyl photo backdrops – you can find them in a variety of colors and prints (marble is my favorite) on Amazon
- Styling mats – fabric mats that you can just roll out as needed. They’re a bit of an investment, but pick a few key neutral colors and you’ll be set for life!
My styling mat collection
02 – Laying Out the Invitation
The absolute BEST thing you can do to elevate your flatlay photography is, well, elevate everything!
Seriously, do not just flop the invitation pieces on your styling surface and call it a day. Instead, put something underneath each piece to give pieces different heights and create some visual interest. I usually use acrylic table number stands, washi tape, or my kids’ LEGO bricks, but honestly anything flat and rectangular will do the trick (pack of gum? sure! deck of cards? yasss! that little plastic box your SD cards came in? perfection!)
03 – Make Sure Everything Is Straight
There is nothing that irritates my brain more than a slightly askew piece of stationery. Yep, I’m that person.
Just take a few test shots and make sure everything looks straight and evenly spaced out. Sometimes things look good when you’re viewing it in 3D with your eyes, but it’s super obvious something went awry when you see it in 2D.
A few other tips on laying out your stationery:
- If you’re using your iPhone, take advantage of that grid you can put over your photos and use it to make sure you’ve got everything lined up.
- Sometimes stationery isn’t perfectly flat, so don’t be afraid to gently bend it if there’s a bit of a curve to it.
- The invitation piece should be the focal point, so put it in the center and with the most elevation. The other pieces can fall in around it, slightly lower.
- Arrange pieces the way we read – left to right, top to bottom (in case you were wondering…) – to keep things pleasant for your viewer’s eyes and brain.
04 – Tell A Story
Ok, finally to the fun part – accessorizing your flatlay! You want your flatlay to tell the visual story of your couple and their wedding. The items you add to your flatlay help tell that story, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!
Here are a few of my favorite styling goodies I always keep stocked in my styling kit:
- Ring boxes
- Silk ribbon (variety of colors & thicknesses)
- Velvet ribbon
- Shells and beach glass
- Tiny acorns and pinecones
- Bride and groom place cards
- Fancy scissors
- Extra stamps
- Wax seals
Of course florals are ALWAYS a beautiful choice and add so much visual interest to the flatlay. Just make sure whatever you’re using doesn’t compete with the invitation and that it all still flows from left to right and top to bottom.
AND NO SHOES ALLOWED!
Plopping a pair of shoes next to the invitations in a flatlay is just about the biggest pet peeve there is among stationers (besides chicken stamps and paper shortages). Shoes with stationery don’t bug me that much personally (especially if they’re really good shoes), but how about we just don’t do it so everyone’s happy, mkay?
05 – Find the Light
Try to photograph your work in an area with lots of diffused natural light. Avoid direct sunlight because you’ll end up with lots of crazy shadows. Low light will make your invitations look dingy or force you to increase the exposure to a point where the text and artwork on your invites gets washed out.
I also recommend investing in a few Lightroom presets to give your photos a cohesive look and simplify the editing process. You can also make your own presets!
Enjoy Your Beautiful Photos!
You’ve got all the tools for a successful stationery photo shoot, now go take some photos and watch the compliments roll in on your beautiful flatlay photography!
Need Flatlay Accessories?
Shop our collection of place cards, escort cards, and Styled Seconds to add to your styling kit!