Flat lay photography has grown in popularity over the past few years because of the many ways that it can be used for brands in different industries. Regardless of whether your speciality is food, fashion, or motherhood, there is a place for flat lay photography in your business. However, it can be challenging to know where to even begin with styling flat lays. How many items do I need? What layout should I choose? What equipment do I need? Often, there are so many questions to answer before you even get started.
In this 3-part series, I’m going to cover Everything You Need to Know about Knolling to give you ideas that you can implement right away!
What is Knolling and Why You Need to Know this Style
So, what is knolling anyway? Knolling is a type of flat lay image where a group of items is arranged in a very organized fashion. Specifically, items are arranged either parallel to each other or perpendicular (at right or 90 degree angles) to each other. What makes knolling images so intriguing is the visual appeal of having items lined up neatly.
So, if you know how to line things up, you know how to create a knolling image. It is really that simple. That is one of the reasons why I love this approach to flat lay styling. At the most basic level, it doesn’t require any specialized knowledge about composition principles. Also, it is one of my go-to flat lay image types when I have a collection of items but no real story that I want to tell.
Knolling is More Interesting with More Props
One question that might come to mind is how many items do you need? While you can achieve a solid knolling image with as few as 5 items, including more items will lead to a more dynamic image.
Here are three reasons why sometimes we need to ditch the “less is more” philosophy:
- The knolling pattern is more readily apparent with a large collection of items. There is a certain wow factor to seeing how well someone has lined up many objects.
- A more complex image creates greater visual interest and the ability to incorporate other composition elements that make flat lay images stand out.
- You can get more content out of a single image.
Let’s talk about this last point a little more.
If you spend time styling and creating a flat lay image, you want to make sure that you don’t just have one image to post. You want to be able to create multiple images to be able to fill your content calendar and get the most out of your styling session. Sure, you can sit with your styled scene and move items around to create different images. (In fact, that is something that I do to showcase different aspects of a product or communicate a given message.) But, wouldn’t it be great to be able to get a variety of images from the same exact setup?
The image above is just a cropped portion of the larger knolling image in this section. I didn’t physically move any of the items or even recompose the shot in my camera. I simply used the crop tool in Lightroom, and Voila!
Must Have Equipment for Knolling (You Don’t Need Much)
So, are you sold on knolling yet? If so, it is time to grab your equipment and get started. And, guess what? You really just need two things. A camera and a tripod.
Any camera will do. You can use your cell phone camera or a DSLR. Your DSLR can either be a full-frame camera or have a crop sensor.
The tripod has one “must-have” feature — a horizontal arm. This allows your camera to get directly above your scene for a steady overhead shot. Your horizontal arm might be a separate accessory that you purchase for your tripod or built into your tripod as a center column.
If you want to go one step further, you can purchase a cube level for your DSLR. This is an inexpensive item and one that I use at the start of all of my flat lay shoots. You don’t want your image to be ruined by noticing that the items weren’t lined up because your camera wasn’t exactly parallel to the scene, and this little gadget will become your back-up measure.
Collect Items That are the Same Theme or Color
Ready to get started today? Gather a collection of items that are either the same theme or the same color. As long as they relate in one of those two ways, you are on the right path to creating a successful knolling image!
Stay Tuned for Part 2: Mastering Knolling with Props You Already Own