Hello, 

How are you? How was your week?

Before we move forward…. a quick look back...

  • Time - Did you manage to make some Me-Time?

  • Light - Have you had time to study your light? What did you find? Where’s or When is your best light? Did you test one or did you try a few different spots? I’d love to hear, but for now, let’s move on…

  • Gather - Did you manage to gather a few bits and pieces for this week’s challenge?
    I collected some jasmine and a protea from the garden, a few small pine cones and a few items from the kitchen. Then I went out for a day trip and visited a trash and treasure market and found more wonderful pieces, also some Sunflowers and THEN…I bought myself a bunch of fresh peonies…wow, what a haul. But Don’t get overwhelmed by all that, let’s start simply…

Planning & Prep...

I'm a big planner, I love this step, but I understand that not everyone does, but there are times when a little prep can make all the difference. Some people often state they do not have enough time in this busy world...but if we really want something… we make it happen.

If your ‘My Sunday Stills’ time is limited…..schedule some pre-shoot prep….not much - just 5 minute with a coffee, consider your props, & the light…. what was your favourite? Where was your favourite spot? What props do you have sitting around you can use? There is no need to buy anything, unless you want to spoil yourself with fresh flowers…and why not, you’re worth it, right? Perhaps keep a journal with some ideas, noting times and locations and possibly future props. Perhaps you have gained some ideas from some of the critiques I did last week, write them down as well.

Take a deep Breath...

Now that you are ready to get started, you’re ready to shoot…but before you take even a single photo...take just 1 minute…. to breathe and clear your mind. I promise it’s worth it. In time (I hope)…. this process will be a truly calming experience…or maybe it is just me :-)

This week's Challenge | Sidelight, Top-Down, Flay Lay...

Last week I asked you to go and find some bits and pieces...what did you find? This week we are going to create a beautiful photo or two with these items. This should be a much quicker challenge than last week.

What is it? A Top-Down Flat Lay photo is one where all the items are placed on a flat surface, with the camera placed directly above, often on a tripod for stability, and all items are contained within the frame.

Side Light means that the scene is placed next to a light source (say a window or door) and it lights the scene from the side, not behind or from the front (we will get to these later).

But first…. a few ideas….

Tabletop or backdrop - This week we will use our foraged finds… in a sidelit, top-down, flat-lay photo…..One of my favourite still life styles.

I love this style as it only requires one surface….and a small space. No need to worry about what’s in your background….Your tabletop or surface of choice is the background.

  • a sheet or drop cloth – tea dye some simple white cotton or muslin (YOU CAN LEARN HOW HERE),

  • Painters canvas drop sheet

  • an old baking tray

  • old floor tiles

  • old fence palings

  • gift wrap rolls or wallpaper off-cuts (a personal favourite)

  • cardboard or foam core (perhaps painted or draped with cheesecloth for added texture.)

  • a timber cutting board or butchers block

  • paving stones

  • wooden crate

Flat-Lay, a few thoughts...

  • it’s trickier than it looks, especially if there are straight lines in your background

  • often less is more, always look to remove one thing and see if that makes it look better or worse, move items around, little by little, bit by bit, until you find something pleasing to the eye. Don’t just snap one picture and think “I’m done”…ease into it and ‘fluff’ around a little, take a photo, add something, take another and compare.

  • Try for a common theme, a colour story, neutral tones with a punch of colour…. works well.

  • leave room to breathe between objects – Not too cluttered

  • consider the hero of the story… let it shine.


Behind the scenes video for Shooting Top Down Flat Lay

Behind the scenes

Password - MSS Week 2


All of these are shot ISO 100 F/5.0 with a 50mm prime lens on my Sony a7ii  


Behind the Scenes Video - walk through of my Lightroom Edits

Lightroom Edits

Password - MSS Week 2


Using Pinterest for Inspiration

Password - MSS Week 2

Need some inspiration...

Try looking on Instagram or Pinterest (check out the video above) for Flat Lay, or Top Down Still Life, make a mood board or a secret Pinterest Board called 'Inspiration', I am sure you will find loads to tempt your creativity. You can add to it each week.

These are some shots I took with my other finds, the bottle, the brass dish and the peonies, I did not put them above as most of them are no flat lays…

Can't wait to see what you create this week and don't forget to tag #mysundaystills #flatlay and maybe this week, if you can, grab a behind the scenes shot with your phone and post in the group, so others can see how you set your shot up.

So till next week, have an amazing week and happy snapping...

~ Julz, xo