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Subject photo: props for a good flatlay photo

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
Flatlay and subject photos are one of the most popular photography trends on Instagram. They are needed both by those who have their own stores, make beautiful products with their own hands, or simply want to convey their routine in an aesthetic and fashionable way.

One of the main components (and laws) of such photography is multiplicity, detail. It's not enough to simply shoot the subject you want to tell a story about. That subject has to be surrounded by other things, and all of them have to be in harmony, constitute a single composition, match each other in color.

That's why so many photographers have so many props at home - you never know what you're going to need at the moment and specifically for this spread.
A layout with lots of details will tell a story on its own.

I'm sharing with you where to buy all these props, and what to buy:

  • Aliexpress - the metta of all intsagrammers
    Here you can find literally everything and very cheaply. And the magic word vintage in the search opens the portal to hell) Or heaven, it depends on who. Make sure delivery is free - and sometimes vintage watches cost 100 rubles, and delivery - under 300.
  • Shein - if everyone already knows about Ali, then Shein is new territory
    These are also products from China, but they are more stylish and orderly. It's easier to find something interesting here. The site is mostly known as a portal with clothes, but the little things for the home (and pics) here are also very cool!
  • Stores
    In almost every town you can find old guys selling old candlesticks/vases/saucers for next to nothing. Especially look out for small bottles - they're great for atmospheric layouts
  • FixPrice
    There are so many great home solutions here. I try to come in every week, because the assortment is always changing (and rarely repeated). So if you see a cool light fixture or frame, grab it and run. Just pay first.
Bookstores and stationery stores
Notebooks, notepads, pens - all these things are cheap, but they can serve a great purpose in styling a work morning, for example. Or a productive afternoon.
Fabric Shop
Even small cutoffs, such as a meter, or natural curtains, would make a great backdrop for your layouts.
You may also need such little things as different stones, coffee beans, candles, music sheets, newspaper clippings, decoupage cards, beautiful candy and cheese wrappers. In general, just try not to throw away anything beautiful and with a vintage pretension that you get your hands on!
And of the large props, pay attention to sweaters - they, too, can be used as a background for layouts or object photos, plaster figures, wooden boards and surfaces. Tiles, again, you can take a natural one, or you can buy stickers on Aliexpress and make a moulage of a wall from cardboard with glued bricks.

In the photo is indistinguishable!
A little bit about storage:
Get yourself a separate box to put all your priceless props in. Or a few if you want to keep it separate - for example, trivia, textiles, and stationery.

In general, try to surround yourself with beauty, and then it will be much easier to think of what items will tell the story today!

I want to show you a few layouts that I made myself this month.

We just bought an iPhone 13 Pro, and I was so inspired by its technical capabilities that I took a few English-language courses myself - to improve my skills, so to speak - and I try to practice my photography every day.

These are the subject photos I've been getting lately:

I wish you incredible creative inspiration and lots of great pics!