At times, you might want to create an image with a pure white background for your flat lay photos. While desirable, a completely white background is often challenging to achieve for many people.
Pure white backgrounds can come in handy when you are displaying a single image of a product; others can “clip” your image from the web and include it on a style board with other inspiration images or in a gift guide. These types of images can also be used as the backdrop for magazine pages or presentation slides with text overlaid.
Since I’m often asked how to get a completely white flat lay background, I thought I’d share my process below.
Step-by-Step: Photograph a White Flat Lay Background
- Start with a smooth, white background. I typically use a white foam core.
- Style your flat lay shot and make sure it is evenly lit. I mostly use natural light from a large window, combined with a reflector. If you don’t have a room that gets good light, you can also use artificial light. Take your setup outdoors!
- Make sure your picture is properly exposed before taking a shot. Ensure exposure for the subject, not the background. The background will not be pure white straight out of the camera (SOOC).
- Edit your photo in Photoshop (PS) and/or Lightroom (LR). I like to make my preliminary adjustments in LR, then pull the image into PS for any additional edits. Finally, any further touch-ups you need to make are then done in LR.
Still Doesn’t Look, Pure White?
If you have areas that still don’t look pure white, use the adjustment brush in Lightroom to clean up those areas by selectively adjusting the “whites” or “exposure.”
In PS, adjust the levels, using the white eyedropper on the white background. This should turn your background pure white or pretty close to it. If necessary, move the highlights level on the right to further brighten the white background, making sure that you don’t wash/blow out the rest of the image.
Adjust the mid-tones and shadows as needed.
Free Flat Lay Tool Kit
My top recommendations for tools to use on every single shoot!
Final Step For The Perfect White Flat Lay Background
Check Lightroom to make sure that the white flat lay background is truly white by hovering your mouse over various areas of the background. It should read R: 100% B: 100% G: 100%.
The last step is important because what looks white to the naked eye may not actually be pure white.
Frequently Asked Questions
One way you can do this is by making sure that your flat lay is evenly lit by using a combination of natural or artificial light and a reflector or white foam core.
Pure white backgrounds can come in handy when you are displaying single images of a product for e-commerce. They can also be used as the backdrop for magazine pages or presentation slides with text overlaid.
Use a smooth, white background, such as a white foam core to get a solid baseline image from which to work. Then, use editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop to ensure that it is 100% white.
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