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How to take a good flat lay pic

12th March, 2018

Kate Waterhouse how to shoot a great flatlay pic image

The quality of the imagery you use on social media is paramount and is often one of the deciding factors when people decide whether to follow or just scroll on past. A good outfit post is always interesting but I also love nothing more than a great flat lay pic. I’m a big fan of using them on Instagram and I know they’re a mainstay of many bloggers and fashion brands’ accounts. So what’s the key to shooting a great flat lay pic? I’ve enlisted the help of Sophia Athas who has photographed several of my What I Wore posts, shot me at Fashion Week and also worked with me on several of my own flat lay images to share her top tips for taking a photo that will have people double tapping!

The elements of a good flat lay pic

The biggest thing to consider before shooting a flat lay is light! It’s all about getting a really soft natural light (preferably in the middle of the day or morning). Direct sunlight is often too harsh, and artificial lighting can make the whole photograph yellow and seem really unnatural.


It always helps to have a really simple backdrop for the products. I usually use a white art board that I lug around with me, or some simple floor boards or marble bench tops can work nicely too. The simpler the background is the more product you can include without making it too busy and messy.


Composition is everything, and often less is more! Don’t feel like you always need to fill the entire frame with product, because empty space can work really well, particularly when you want a certain product to pop out! If you have a hero product that needs the most attention, lay this down first and then continue to place bits and pieces around it so as not to distract from the main purpose of the shot!

Kate Waterhouse how to shoot a great flatlay pic with Givenchy bag and cosmetics

How to get the lighting right
Find the nearest window

Use a bench top or floor space right next to a window but try to avoid direct sunlight. Shooting with the light coming in from the back is always the best. It gives a really nice effect on the products.

Play with the aperture setting

If you are using an SLR, play around with the aperture setting—this will determine how much light is let into the shot, and at times when it seems dark in reality, the camera will do its job of lighting the frame up!

How to edit shots
Say no to filters

For me, filters are a definite no. I think keeping it as natural as possible always looks the nicest—creating clean lines with the product without washing it out or changing the frame too much.

Get familiar with Photoshop

I like to play around with the shots in Photoshop once they are uploaded. Rather than adding in filters I often change the backgrounds (sometimes adding in a light pastel colour or even shapes). It can also be fun to add in text where needed, or if there is empty space that needs filling, duplicating products and placing them down again work well too.

The big no-nos
Overcrowding the shot

The best flat lays and product shots are always the cleanest, with everything perfectly placed and consistently spaced apart. If you are uploading the photo to Instagram, ensure you’re thinking about the entire square, so that cropping isn’t an issue once you have uploaded it and to avoid an awkward border on either side of the frame!


Never over saturate your photos, the less colour in the frame is often better.

The editing tools to use

If I have taken it straight on my iPhone I use Afterlight to edit the photo. I use the sharpening tool which  sharpens all objects and makes the photo appear to be of a higher quality than it actually was taken. Afterlight is also really useful to lighten the image, playing with the brightness as well as contrast. It’s a fine line between using apps to edit and editing too much, as you want to avoid that over saturated and over edited look.


If I have taken the photo with my Canon, I use Photoshop to edit the brightness and even rub out certain products or as I said earlier, place more into the frame.

Finding your own style
Experiment with your shots

Practice, practice, practice! Only after experimenting with certain light, apps, backgrounds and even different objects have I really become confident in flat lays.

Play with adding props or other design touches

It’s really important that you develop your own style rather than trying to copy someone else, particularly as flat lays have become so common. It’s nice to see one that has a unique touch, so don’t be afraid to play around with things—even if its using flowers, the use of text, or even different angles!


Check out Sophia’s website at or follow her on Instagram at @hatrikkk

    Photography: Sophia Athas


    Fashion, Lifestyle

    Behind the scenes: Marie Claire and Georg Jensen’s OCRF campaign

    25th September, 2017


    When Marie Claire asked me to get involved with their campaign with Georg Jensen and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) to raise awareness about ovarian cancer I knew immediately that I wanted to take part. It’s a cause that’s close to my heart as I have had family friends affected by ovarian cancer and I know the devastating effect it has on not only the person with the illness but also their families.

    Now that I am a mother of two little girls it’s made me even more aware of this terrible disease and how it affects far too many women in this country and around the world. The shocking statistics surrounding ovarian cancer—such as the fact 1500 Australian women are diagnosed with the disease every year— made me want to do what I could to help build awareness and in turn hopefully raise some much needed funds for OCRF’s crucial research.

    Hair: Kieren Street Makeup: Nadine Monley

    As part of the campaign Marie Claire shot myself with Sophia and Grace. I always love when they can join me on set as it makes the experience even more special. Both girls were really excited and a little curious about what was going on on the day and I’m sure they had as much fun as I did shooting together. It’s always nice to be able to work with people in the industry that I’ve worked with in the past and this time around it was with the photographer Hugh Stewart. Hugh shot my first magazine photoshoot with Sophia back in 2014 and it’s amazing to think how much Sophia has grown since then!

    It was great to be given the opportunity to get behind this cause in such a major way and also to be part of the incredible line-up of women such as Rachael Finch, Alice McCall and Jessica Rowe who were also shot with their daughters for this campaign. I hope that we’ve all been able to raise the profile of ovarian cancer in this country and to help OCRF reach their target to develop an early detection test and ultimately a cure.

    See below for behind the scenes on the shoot…

    Getting ready for the shoot with Grace and Sophia

    Sophia getting to play with some of the makeup on set

    Sophia and I trying to get the perfect mirror selfie

    With my little angel Grace

    Getting into position on set

    Squeezing in a few cuddles with the girls in between takes

    Getting snapped for the magazine and prepping for our video interview


    The key to taking good family photos on your phone

    23rd March, 2017

    One of the great things about having a smartphone these days is that you’re able to capture good quality photos on the go. Having a young family means I am always snapping pics on my phone so I’ve learnt through trial and error the best ways to capture moments with Luke and the girls. I have an iPhone 7 and find that when I use it in Portrait mode it produces a really nice DSLR-esque result. It’s also foolproof as there’s a guide which tells me if I need more light in the shot and also gives me a live preview of the depth of the shot so I know the best distance in which to take a picture. Whilst my phone provides great step by step guidance here are some things I always do when it comes to taking each photo…

    • Choose a colourful background. I find the more vibrant the background the better the image as it gives it a great sense of energy.
    • Shoot where there’s lots of light. I’ll try to find a location that’s light filled as it produces a crisper, sharper image.
    • When I’m taking photos of the girls I mix it up and love capturing close up images where they’re looking to camera but I also really like candid shots of them playing and interacting with the world around them. I’ll also experiment with different angles. For example sometimes shooting from above and looking down to take the picture may make a better shot than shooting straight on.
    • I tend to refrain from editing my photos too much but it’s sometimes necessary just to adjust lighting or colouring. There are plenty of apps to choose available but some of the more popular apps include Enlight and VSCO which allows you to enhance and tweak images on your phone. If you do edit your pics just remember that less is more.

    What’s are some of your tips for taking great family photos?

    Fashion, What I Wore

    What I Wore: Gold Rush

    24th January, 2017

    Rich, luxe fabrics are always so glamorous and the above metallic pants by Carla Zampatti are certainly on another level. I think when paired with a more subdued top a somewhat dramatic piece can be tempered and become slightly more wearable for everyday wear. I think the key is just to keep everything in a similar colour family to provide a common thread to tie the whole look together. Even Sophia was able to dress in a similar theme wearing a singlet as a rather adorable makeshift dress!

    Credits: Custom made Twiggy top, (03) 9429 3412; Pants, Carla Zampatti; Jewellery, Christie Nicolaidis; Flats, Pretty Ballerinas; Sophia wears Mes Demoiselles Paris singlet; Ballet flats, Cotton On

    Photography: Julie Adams, Grace magazine.

    Fashion, What I Wore

    What I Wore: Bold prints

    9th January, 2017

    It’s fun being on shoots because it allows me to push the boundaries as far as my style goes. This embellished top and pants set that I wore on the Grace magazine shoot was exotic in nature with the intricate beading and rich burgundy colour and was quite the departure from my usual go-to outfits. However the combination was beautiful and I definitely enjoyed wearing it for the magazine. Separately, I can imagine each working quite well with the rest of my wardrobe and really making a statement.

     Credits: Top and pants, Sass & Bide; Earrings and ring, Sarina Suriano; Flats, Pretty Ballerinas. Hoda wears Dress, Vilshenko from Parlour X; Bangles, Dinosaur Designs; Earrings, Christie Nicolaides

    Photography: Julie Adams

    Steal the embellished look


    Fashion, What I Wore

    What I Wore: Blush Hour

    5th January, 2017

    This is one of my favourite looks from my shoot for Grace magazine. I think it’s quite understated yet the little details help elevate it and give it a point of difference. The blush pink blouse would make the ideal office staple as it’s quite demure yet effortless at the same time with its relaxed sleeves. A black skirt will always be a wardrobe staple simply because it’s so versatile but I particularly like the ruffle at the front which makes for a sweet finishing touch. A pair of black pumps are a go-to in my closet but the crossover strap detail help to make it a little more modern.

    Credits: Top and skirt, Mad Cortes; Shoes, Christian Louboutin, Earrings and ring, Sarina Suriano. Sophia and Rose wear top and skirt, Seed; (on Sophia) Ballet Flats, Cotton On. Grace wears lace Romper, Target; Shoes, Pretty Ballerinas

    Photography: Julie Adams

    Steal Kate’s Look

    Shop Sophia’s Look

    Fashion, What I Wore

    What I Wore: Rainbow Bright

    3rd January, 2017

    It’s party season so there’s no better time to embrace bold metallics. Appearing on the cover of Grace magazine with my family was all about feeling and looking festive and what better look than vibrant hues of gold, red and green. I loved the kaleidoscope effect of the Dodo Or dress I was able to wear on the shoot – I felt it was quite dramatic with the array of colours but the shift dress silhouette kept it somewhat classic the same time. I think every girl needs at least one statement-making party dress that can elevate her look for party season. Whilst I wore something quite colourful alternatively you could go for one bold shade. My sister-in-law Hoda wore a beautiful Michael Lo Sordo dress in a rich plisse fabric which I could see turning heads at any event. Even Sophia and my niece Rose got into the metallic trend with their adorable Boden dresses.

    Credits: Dress, Dodo Bar Or from Mode Sportif; Earrings, Christie Nicolaides; Necklace, Sarina Suriano; Hoda wears dress, Michael Lo Sordo; Necklace, Christie Nicolaides; Rose and Sophia wear dresses, Boden; Ballet flats, Cotton On (Sophia); Shoes, Boden (Rose)

    Photography: Julie Adams


    Behind the scenes on my Grace magazine cover shoot

    22nd December, 2016

    I am so thrilled and honoured to share the news that I’m covering the new issue of Grace magazine with my family.

    I’ve known Georgie Abay, the editor of the parenting website The Grace Tales since her days at Vogue and have been a long time fan of her site which is all about motherhood, stylish mothers and all things children and is a great website for mums. Recently Georgie launched an online magazine called Grace which I absolutely loved reading so I felt very honoured when she asked my sister-in-law Hoda and I to appear on the cover of the second issue with our children.

    It was a Christmas themed shoot that took place in a studio in Sydney’s Waterloo. I always love seeing the outfits the stylist has pulled for a shoot and this time around we got to wear some fabulous outfits, in really bright colours and a handful of metallics to reflect the fact it was an issue celebrating the festive season. It was a nice way to mark the start of this great time of year.

    Sophia was particularly excited about the shoot as she was able to “go to work with mummy”. Photo shoots are long days so by the end of it I think her excitement had waned slightly and going to work with mummy was no longer quite so fun but she loved spending time with her cousins, Rose and William. As with most little girls I think her favourite part of the day was playing dress ups. As soon as she walked in she was trying on shoes and trying on different dresses and she just wanted to be in everything Rose was wearing so a lot of the shots they’re wearing the same thing. It was an honour to be asked to be in the shoot with Hoda and the kids and we had such an unbelievably fun day shooting it. I hope you like the end result!

    To check out the story head to The Grace Tales.

    With my sister-in-law, Hoda

    Hoda and my niece Rose and nephew William on set

    Sophia inspecting the accessories for the shoot

    Selfie time with Hoda and Rose

    If there’s one thing you need on a shoot it’s coffee!

    Hoda getting her hair styled




    My tips for taking good holiday pics

    7th November, 2016
    Mazzarò beach.

    Mazzarò Beach in Taormina

    When I am on a trip I always take a million photos and it’s one of my favourite things to do while I’m on holiday. It’s always a nice souvenir of the trip and now with a family, I love being able to capture all the special moments so we can look back on it in the years to come. So, what are my rules when it comes to taking good holiday snaps? Here’s what I do to ensure every image is Insta-worthy…

    Taking Sophia to the church where we were married.

    Consider your lighting

    Lighting is the one thing that can take an image from good to great. I always try and use natural light when I’m taking pictures. I find this always results in the best quality photos and is the most flattering.

    Mazzarò beach.

    Nature is always an easy photo subject

    When you’re on holiday you’ll often encounter lots of new places so your surroundings often make the best photo subjects. Think landscapes, beautiful vistas, blue skies, crystal clear water… Experiment with taking panoramic shots and close ups to really capture the scenery. Also play with different angles as sometimes you may be able to capture a really interesting shot by simply changing your point of view.

    High Tea at Claridge's.

    It’s all in the detail

    I always love taking pictures of the details in anything I see. I will snap pics of interesting architecture but I’ll also focus on things like the beautiful tiles on the floor or a nice piece of antique furniture to really capture the moment. Sometimes it’s often the details that paint the clearest picture of a location.

    Cruising in culottes.

    Fashion vignettes

    I love throwing fashion photos into the mix as I find when I’m on holidays I will tend to experiment a bit more with what I’m wearing whether it’s vibrant colours or exotic patterns and fabrics. Also sometimes it’s fun to take pics of the little trinkets I might pick up along the way such as a bracelet or ring to give a broader snapshot of my travels.

    Bam Bar - best granita's in town!

    Food, glorious food!

    Let’s face it, being able to enjoy delicious food is often one of the best things about being on holiday. There’s a reason why food pictures are often one of the most popular images people post on Instagram! Take a picture of your surroundings, what’s on your plate, the people you’re with, often the experience of dining out makes one of the most interesting subjects you can photograph while on a trip.

    Feeding the fish in Taormina's public gardens.

    Be candid

    The best photos often arise when people are just being themselves. I love taking candid snapshots of my family as it often has the best energy. People laughing, admiring their surroundings or simply looking thoughtful are a nice way to document moments without making it feel forced.




    Profile: Douglas Kirkland, photographer

    2nd November, 2016


    Photographer Douglas Kirkland is proof that one image can change everything. In 1961, at the age of 27 he was hired as a photographer for LOOK magazine and would go on to shoot the image that would establish his career. The photograph in question was Marilyn Monroe wrapped up in bedsheets and wearing nothing else [below]. The image has become iconic and started Kirkland on the path to shooting some of Hollywood’s biggest and most renowned stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot. An exhibition of Kirkland’s work is currently taking place at There Is, a gallery in Perth’s Northbridge so I decided to speak to the man himself. Here we speak about the most memorable shoot he’s been on, the key to a good photograph and whose portrait he’d most like to take…

    Your shoot with Marilyn Monroe… did you ever expect how big an impact it would have on your career?

    Of course I didn’t. It was just another, albeit great, assignment in between others. The impact of the Marilyn Monroe session came much later. At the time no one paid that much attention to it. It was not used that well in the magazine. After she died, the interest got bigger and has not stopped growing since. 

    Marilyn Monroe – the image that started it all

    You’ve shot so many famous faces. Who has been the most interesting to shoot and why?

    This is a difficult question to answer. There have been so many wonderful and interesting people and the next shoot is always the most important in my mind. But I would say Audrey Hepburn. It was in the Fall of 1965 in Paris …Audrey was lovely of course but the bonus was that this was when I met my wife Francoise. We fell in love, got married and here we are 50 years later as if it was the first night.

    What has been the most challenging shoot you’ve ever been on?

    Every assignment is a challenge, If you don’t feel challenged you are asleep and you will not get satisfying results.

    What’s your artistic process like for shooting portraits?

    It is instinctive. It is a process, you assess the situation, you care about your subject, It is a dance, you cajole, you whisper, you shout, you make love to your subject with your camera.

    Portraits are so personal. How do you develop that rapport with the person you’re shooting so you can take the best and most engaging photo of them possible?

    In the 60s and 70s you had days and sometimes weeks to develop a rapport with your subject, now if you are lucky you have a day or at least a few hours, but sometimes only a very very short time. And you just need to get a feeling, connect with the person and tread carefully to keep your subject happy, engaged and comfortable.

    The beautiful Brigitte Bardot

    Whose portrait would you absolutely love to shoot?

    Absolutely Michelle and Barack Obama.

    These days it seems anyone with a smartphone and access to a filter thinks they can take a good photo. Do you think this has helped to evolve the craft or has it taken away from the skill required to be a photographer?

    I don’t think it really has done either, tools do not take the pictures, they are just an accessory and whatever tool you choose you the photographer still has to do an exceptional job that will stand out.

    What can people expect from your exhibit?

    They will get a glimpses into people’s lives they don’t know, and hopefully they will go home feeling good, moved and enriched by the images.

    Elizabeth Taylor

    You’ve worked as a photographer on some iconic films. What did you find the most enjoyable about doing motion picture photography?

    Being on a film set is like an addiction. It is both thrilling and unnerving.

    There is a lot of waiting around and yet a great sense of urgency. In the best of circumstances as it always is on a Baz Luhrmann set, you feel you are part of a wonderful creative process, you are part of a collective effort to accomplish something special and you feel privileged to be part of the caravan.

    What’s the key to a beautiful photograph?

    This is completely subjective. What I find beautiful is not necessarily what others do. So a successful image depends a lot on the beholder.

    Audrey Hepburn in Paris in 1965

    For amateur photographers out there, what are your top tips for taking photos?.

    Know your equipment and don’t spend time fumbling with it. The most important thing is to connect with your subjects.

    Who or what inspires you?

    The fantasy of photography and what you can find and explore with it and how you can speak with it. And of course my wife and muse Francoise.

    Douglas Kirkland’s Icons and Idols exhibition is on until 13 November at There Is, 49 Stuart Street, Northbridg, WA.

    All of the limited edition signed prints are available for purchase. Enquiries: [email protected]