Using Diagonal Lighting for Flat Lay Photography

Using Diagonal Lighting for Flat Lay Photography

Using Diagonal Lighting Sources in Flat Lay Photography

Do you lighten your scenes in an "auto mode" or do you use lighting intentionally? By understanding your lighting source and knowing what your photography goals are, you can better equip your setup to stick the “photo” landing. And an amazing way to learn how to do that is to start with the angle of your lighting sources. If you’re in a studio setup or the natural light provided by the sun isn’t an option (hello, all-nighters!), then purchasing a manufactured light source is a great workaround. 

When setting up your lighting kit, it’s easy to default to the trusty “bright, brighter, brightest” approach and totally max overhead lighting. But what if we gave you another option that was easier on your eclectic bill and helped with creating depth, orientation, and eliminated reflections? We thought you’d like that! Let’s jump into this week’s “In 6 Feet” featured article.

Let’s start with diagonal lighting. Diagonal lighting is a light coming to your scene diagonally - from the side back, or side top (called in flat lays). I use this direction of light very often and there are a few reasons why I do it. Here they are:

1. Using diagonal lighting makes the image more dynamic.

Because the light is coming to the scene from the side-back, the shadows will be diagonal too. This works beautifully, especially when working with hard light or stronger shadows. And having things arranged diagonally in the photos adds depth and dynamism.

2. You will be able to rotate the flat lay horizontally or vertically - better for different orientations (like on websites).

You might have heard about it many times, the flat lay image feels more natural when the light comes from the top. And, most of the time, we create vertical images. However, when you want to rotate that image for your website, or for your portfolio, suddenly the lighting doesn't work, because the light then comes from the side. It just loses that natural feel made with the top lighting. However, if you lighten your scene diagonally, you can rotate it vertically or horizontally, lighting will always work!

3. You will avoid shining backgrounds with flexible vinyl backdrops.

And the last reason is: when using diagonal lighting, you will avoid making your flexible vinyl backgrounds too shiny.  However, the flexible vinyl backdrops don't have much texture, and when lightened from the back, they get too shiny and this is very noticeable in the photos, that doesn't happen with our backdrops. Instead our backers are practical, rigid, surprisingly realistic, super matte and rich in textures so you can get beautiful patterns without the need to deal with heavy stones, marbles or woods.

So the next time when you struggle with this shine of high gloss backers, try moving your scene in a way that the light will come diagonally, and the problem will be solved! (Psst - this would be a great time to flex your photography lighting muscles on our Rose Gold Mirror and Bronze Mirror backers). A great challenge as a growing photographer is to constantly push yourself to try new and different approaches to your sets - and lighting will be a delightful challenge for you to tackle, but the end results will be breathtaking - we promise! 

You can view our line of user-friendly backers at!
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