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Smartphone photography 101: Taking flat lays

Keeping it straight and casual for beginners

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If you frequent Pinterest and Instagram, I’m certain you encounter a lot of flat lays. In case you didn’t know, it’s one of the most popular genres of smartphone photography. Despite the popularity and abundance of tutorials, people still struggle with taking flat lays.

As someone who always takes flat lays both for work and personal reasons, I’m going to give a few tips and tricks on how you can maximize your smartphone for your flat lay needs. Take this as a refresher if you’ve forgotten all those flat lay tutorials you’ve studied in the past.

Setting up

Before you start pulling out your smartphones, use them to find inspiration first. Browse and scan excellent flat lays on Instagram, Pinterest, and other inspiration-filled platforms. Soak up all the goodness and the shots you like and let it sink in.

When you’re done, decide on a theme for your shoot. What story do you want to tell? Once you figure this out, you can start assembling your props.

Make sure you follow a color palette,  and pick different shapes and sizes to ensure balance — which is the most important trick in shooting flat lays. Remember, the message is important. Don’t shoot just because you want to shoot.

Shooting

Pick a background and compose your shot

Grab your props and set them up on a table. My ideal time to shoot is always in the morning or late afternoon when the light isn’t harsh. Shooting at noontime will produce strong shadows and contrast, deeply impacting the quality of your flat lays.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Cookies by @ovenfulbyian

If your spot is a little bit dark, never use flash. Just move somewhere with ample lighting. For instance, I set up next to a window. Sometimes, I shoot at the shaded area of my porch.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Cookies by @leezipotato

When you’ve assembled your props, make sure to leave spaces between objects to make your set breathe. And don’t forget to mix up and play around with the props.

Shoot it straight from the right distance.

Cameras use different focal lengths, which is why sometimes taking flat lays using a smartphone or a certain lens can cause a distorted output. It’s difficult to straighten the photo when your primary camera uses a wide lens.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto) | Chocolate crinkles by @ovenfulbyian

Finding the right distance by standing up on a stool, an elevated block, or climbing a ladder is the key to taking proper flat lays. If you think you’re too cool to make an effort by standing up to get the right shot, girl, bye.

Kidding aside, once you find the right distance, you have two options: Shoot at 1x then crop it later or shoot using 3x optical zoom. In my stint with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, I used both 1x and 3x to achieve a straight shot.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (3x Optical Zoom) | Chocolate crinkles by @ovenfulbyian

Although, you need to balance yourself while shooting. Not all smartphone cameras are made equal, some struggle maintaining focus when using optical and digital zoom features.

Consider this before you complain about how you can’t take a proper shot or blame it to your smartphone. You always need to adapt and be smart in the way you handle different situations.

Post-processing

Have fun editing, but don’t go overboard.

Forget those who glorify using and uploading raw photos. Import your photos to an editing app, and make some magic. Turn an ordinary photo into something even more captivating.

Shot on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (1x Auto), Cropped and increased exposure via Adobe Lightroom Mobile | Cookies by @ovenfulbyian

Just make sure you don’t edit it too much that it’s borderline unrealistic. You can use existing presets, or you can tweak around the settings to learn more about post-processing. The possibilities are endless.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: Premium phone you can afford


Smartphone Photography 101 series:

Smartphone photography 101: Foreground element

Smartphone photography 101: How to take slice of life photos

Smartphone photography 101: Capturing festivities

Her GadgetMatch

Hot & Straight: Garment steamers to keep your clothes wrinkle-free

For your delicate dresses and suits

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Garment steamer

Not everyone is blessed to have a Samsung Airdresser or LG Styler at home. Both of which are cabinets that clean, deodorize, and straighten your well-loved clothes. Especially for delicate fabrics such as silk and satin, and even the likes of your dresses and suits. For these, we turn to garment streamers.

A clothes iron isn’t generally a bad idea, but there’s a little chance of burning your soft fabric when you use a garment steamer. And it’s perfect for when you’re prepping for an event. Straighten out those sleeves, pleats, and ruffles — and look prim and proper with wrinkle-free clothes.

Xiaomi Zanjia GT-301W

Xiaomi surely makes clean-looking small appliances. The Zanjia GT-301W is a minimalist, lightweight, and portable garment steamer that’s perfect for your white and neat aesthetic.

Garment steamer

You can hold it with just one hand, and despite the small size, it blasts 1200W of powerful steam — effectively removing wrinkles on your clothes.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Midea Handheld Steam Ironing Machine

Known as a household brand, Midea took it up a notch by producing a portable yet elegant-looking garment steamer. This garment steamer can be folded easily so you can look posh while you take care of your clothes during your travels.

Garment steamer

It also packs so much steam power with steam volume up to 22g/min, making it easier to iron out creases swiftly.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Philips STH3010/70

Surely a trusted brand, Philips also has a candidate in the steamer category. The STH3010/70 makes for a well-rounded garment steamer — compact, portable, blasts 1000W of steam power and steam volume of up to 20g/min.

But more importantly, it boots up quickly and the steam plate can be safely pressed across all kinds of ironable fabrics — bedsheet and curtains included.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Dowell CSH-35 Fabricare Lite

Looks may not be its strongest suit, but the Dowell CSH-35 Fabricare Lite puts a strong focus on functionality. It has a large capacity for a travel steamer — sporting a 280ml removable water tank and 1500W of power.

It’s also easy to operate with its single button, it comes with two levels of steam settings, and takes care of your clothes with its three layers of Fabricare technology. Certainly, it removes creases, sanitizes, and refreshes all your fabrics.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Tefal Access Steam + Handheld Garment Steamer DT8100

Stay wrinkle-free with Tefal’s garment steamer in a short amount of time, thanks to its ultra-fast and efficient setup. It packs 1600W of steam power and releases a steam flow of up to 26g/min.

It’s perfect for last-minute steaming at home and it allows you to move conveniently with its 3 meters cord, so you’re not limited to steaming in one corner.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

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Blow & Dry: Handy, stylish hair dryers for easy blowouts

They deserve to be in your home and in your purse

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Illustration by Kris Blanco

Every now and then, we’ll need a quick blowout to maintain good hair — whether it’s prepping for an event, a quick touch-up before your Zoom call, or about to run an errand and in a bit of a time crunch.

It’s not every day we’ll need a fabulous blow-dryer that will cost us an arm or leg. Or purchase an expensive one and call it an investment. (Guilty as charged!)

Sometimes, what we need are hair dryers that work. Fast and easy, just the way you’ll like it.

Panasonic EH-NA27 Nanoe Hair Dryer

Carol, GadgetMatch’s Lifestyle Editor, swears by Panasonic’s lineup of Nanoe hair dryers. While her personal choices are a bit chic and ritzy, there are affordable options that certainly do the trick.

The Panasonic EH-Na27 brings in its patented technology, gathering water from the air, and uses it — along with negative ions — to create Nanoe droplets and Double Mineral Ions. It’s the secret to shiny and bouncy hair!

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Mi Ionic Hair Dryer

If you’re looking for an affordable yet good-looking hair dryer, say no more. Xiaomi’s Mi Ionic hair dryer solves all your dilemmas: a portable form factor, minimalist and classy design (especially in that white colorway), high volume, and quick-drying technology.

Since it’s an ionic hairdryer, it’s supposedly safer and better compared to ceramic ones — and it won’t leave your hair smelling burnt.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Soocas H5/H3s Hair Dryer

Chay, GadgetMatch’s Creative Director, shared how her GadgetMatch in 2018 was not a phone but a hair dryer. Yes, it was a Soocas hair dryer, which recently had a product refresh.

To Chay, the Soocas hairdryer ticks her three main considerations in looking for a hair dryer: price, power, and design. And more importantly, it doesn’t stop working from overheating despite having an affordable price tag.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Philips Drycare Advanced Hair Dryer HP8233/00

Philips has been around for years, and they certainly produce hair dryers within your reach. The Philips Drycare Advanced hair dryer comes with a professional power as if you have your own hairdresser.

It also comes with multiple temperature settings for less hair damage and a long-lasting look. And more importantly, it sports technology that has an anti-frizz effect to help you achieve that shiny-looking hair.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

Imarflex Hair Dryer HD-2210C

If you prefer it classic and generic like any hair dryers found in your mom’s closet, Imarflex retained that familiar look with its hair dryers. The HD-2210C comes with Ionic haircare system and easy toggle between hot and cold temperature settings.

It makes for the perfect hair dryer for a quick and easy blowout, especially when you’re in a hurry. And it certainly won’t break your wallet.

Shop: Lazada | Shopee

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Her GadgetMatch

The Starbucks x FILA collection is what we need for hot summer vibes

Live life and have fun in a distinct style

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Starbucks x FILA collection

Hold up! Hot girl summer ain’t over yet.

For the first time, Starbucks is collaborating with FILA on an exclusive, co-branded collection of sporty-street-summery style essentials.

Starbucks x FILA: 12 oz Double Wall Ceramic Mug (PhP 1,095), Mesh Bag [Lazada Exclusive] (PhP 1,595)

The Starbucks x FILA collection blends rich brand heritage with classic and modern design. Wearing FILA’s signature white, navy, and red, the collection showcases bold yet timeless designs as seen in the drinkware and lifestyle accessories.

Surely, you’d love to get your hands on these accessories if you’re a fan of timeless yet distinct styles. It’s evident in these tumblers, cups, pouches, and bags!

Where to get

Starbucks x FILA collection

Starbucks x FILA: 20 oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle (PhP 1,595), 24 oz Plastic Cold Cup (PhP 895), Pouch (PhP 795)

Starbucks x FILA collection will be available starting July 20, 2021, at select Starbucks stores across the Asia-Pacific region while supplies last. In the Philippines, it will also be available in the Starbucks flagship store on Lazada.

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