One of the most impactful aspects of capturing beautiful flat-lay images is finding the right lighting. This can be difficult, especially in an unfamiliar or challenging environment - so how do you make sure you get it just right? In this blog post series we will explore tips and insights on how to find the best lighting for your flat-lay photos, so you can create stunning visuals every single time and ensure your flat-lays don't fall flat. ;)

Each post of this series will help you understand where to find the best light in a different scenario. We'll start in a room with a single window, which is one of the most common and accessible settings. I'll walk you through 4 different places to set up your flat-lay mat, and, while I always hesitate to set "rules" in art, you will clearly see which place provides the most abundant and even light. 

Before we get started, it's helpful to understand lighting angles, if you don't already. To calculate your angle, draw a line from the middle of the window down to your flat-lay mat. And then estimate the degree of the angle you are creating against the horizontal axis where your mat is located. In the example below, I have about a 45 degree angle.

Now let's see how different locations around the room, and the lighting angles created, impact the lighting of a flat-lay.

1. On the ground directly next to a window

This spot in the room is going to yield flat images if the window doesn't go all the way to the floor. That is because the angle of the light is coming straight down - there is no opportunity for highlights and shadow.

2. On the floor, about 6 feet from the window.
Now we are creating a significant angle. But we've lost a lot of light. This will vary depending on how much light you have coming through that one window and how big the room is. I like the result much better than the first location, but I'd prefer a bit more brightness.
3. Now we are up on a table that is about 3 feet from the window.
We've got a great angle of light here creating beautiful highlights and shadows. And we've got more light, which is often helpful in flat-lays - especially if you want to shoot at a higher aperture. You can see how this image is brighter and more light-filled than the previous image.
4. Finally, what if we move the table as close as possible to the window.
Now we have a proper angle and abundant light. For me, this is the optimal result. But in my experience, if the room was significantly brighter (bigger window, less cloudy day), the location on the table a few feet from the window or, if I didn't have a table available, the location on the ground several feet from the window would work well too.
Consider that if your one window went all of the way to the floor and wasn't *too* tall, positioning your styling mat right next to the window would create a similar angle and abundant light - and therefore a similar result.
For easy comparison, here are the results of our 4 locations. 
1. On the ground, right under the window; 2. On the ground, about 6 feet away; 3. On a table, 3 feet from the window; 4. On a table, right up against the window
After studying these results, you can see how finding the best location for your flat-lay requires considering the abundance and angle of light. In this one room window, about a 70 degree angle with plentiful light creates my favorite image. In the case where a window does not go to the floor, pulling a table over to the window will help you create those conditions. If the window does go to the floor, and isn't so tall as to create an almost 90 degree angle of light (flat lighting), then positioning your flat-lay mat right next to the window on the floor would yield a similar result.

High quality flat-lays are an essential aspect to selling products & services. The differences in lighting may be subtle to some, but discerning clients will notice.  Practice finding the best light with our portable styling mats. They are designed to roll out anywhere and help you seamlessly create elevated flat-lay images in any situation. And stay tuned for part 2 where we explore the best location in a different scenario.