If you follow my feed @whatshepictures on Instagram then you probably know that I love shooting my flatlays with a tripod. You often see it in behind the scenes photos of me working in my studio. My tripod is my friend. It also happens to be by far the most popular topic for questions that I get asked. So, if you’ve been wondering if getting a tripod would be right for you, or if you’ve never even considered it before, here are my top 3 reasons for using a tripod when shooting flatlays:
#1 – It’s Kinder To My Body
Have you ever held a camera with your arms stretched straight out in front of you? It’s pretty hard to do it for long. It strains my back to hold my camera in that position over and over again. Doing this repeatedly every week damaged my lower back. Holding the weight of my camera mostly in one hand also hurt my wrist. My wrist made weird clicking sounds as the result of years of holding a heavy camera without proper attention and care. When I started using a tripod more often, my back began to heal and my wrist stopped making those clipping sounds. That’s why I call my tripod my friend.
The good news is that you don’t have to go through what I did to learn that using a tripod will save your body the stress and pain of what I went through. Letting a tripod literally do your heavy lifting will leave you with more energy to channel into your creative mojo. So do your future self a favour: use a tripod and invest in the health and care of your body today.
#2 – It Minimises Image Distortion
The key thing with shooting a flatlay is getting your lens directly above your shot to get that perfect bird’s eye view. But it’s sometimes really tricky to get your camera high enough to do it – especially if you’re short like me! Using a wide angle lens will help you fit everything into your frame without needing to get super high up. The drawback with using a wide angle lens is that it can distort the objects in your image, particularly ones closer to the edges of your frame.
Shooting directly above the centre of your flatlay can help reduce this distortion. But my short little arms just can’t reach far enough into the centre of my flatlays. Enter my trusty tripod! Its arm holds my camera farther into the centre than mine can, and since it holds my camera still, I’m able to double check that it’s sitting parallel to the ground in order to get that perfect bird’s eye view.
#3 – It Makes Styling Easier
One question that I’m often asked is: Will using a tripod make my flatlays better?
Technically the answer is no…but also yes.
Tripods don’t actually make images better. They’re just a tool you can use to achieve your photographic goals. Sometimes your goal might require you to use a slow shutter speed so using a tripod would definitely help there. Sometimes your goal is about styling your flatlay so it’ll look its best. A tripod can help you with this too.
Every time you change the point of view of your camera, even by just a few millimetres, it changes the perspective of your shot. If you’re like me, and you like to fine tune the placement of the props in your flatlay, having your camera constantly changing its point of view is like trying to hit a moving target. It’s not impossible, but why make your life harder? Keeping your camera still on a tripod means that your prop placement will be much more accurate and there will be fewer surprises when you look at your image on your screen later.
Sometimes it feels like a drag to have to setup your tripod, but it’s always worth the extra effort, especially when larger items are in the shot like clothes or cushions. After all, if you’re going through all that effort to style the perfect flatlay, it makes sense to capture that flatlay so it looks its best. So if you’re ready to up your flatlay game, then maybe it’s time to think about investing in a tripod.
- C xx
Totally agree with all your points! I do own a basic tripod but am saving for more reliable and professional option to perfect my flatlay pics! btw love your compositions..they are beautiful! Congratulations on the new blog and a website! Would love to know how you get such perfectly white balanced images? I shoot sometimes with softboxes and even after custom white balance they always have a tinge of warmth/orange in it 🙁
Hi Parita, thanks for the compliments and your lovely message. Getting a reliable tripod will definitely change how you do flatlays. I always feel that my final image is better because I used a tripod versus when I don’t use one. Getting your white balance right is always such a struggle for me too. I set the colour temperature manually on my camera. I make minor colour adjustments in Photoshop using the Curves tool. I will try to gather my thoughts on white balance and write them down in a future blog 🙂
Hey! Totally agree with the need for a tripod under some circumstances.
I’m on the hunt for one with a horizontal arm, and was wondering what you use?
Hi Nikita, I use a Manfrotto tripod. I think the feature is called a 90 degree column. I think they have a few models with that feature and many other pro tripod brands will offer something similar. Happy shopping x
Thank you for this article, could you please help what is the best tripod for the iPhone?!
Thank you xo
You’re very welcome. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about tripods for your iPhone. I’m sure there are many good ones on the market by now though x
Good Post. Thanks for sharing this beauty information with us.
Thank you and you’re very welcome 🙂