Fashion Accessories Flat Lay Photoshoot

In this live show Karl demonstrates a simple lighting setup ideal for those working in small studios as he photographs a creative flat lay arrangement of fashion accessories.

This session covers the composition and styling, with an in-depth explanation of Karl’s thought process behind the final image. Karl also discusses the impact of colour and how colour theory influenced his background selection and choice of props.

After explaining the composition of the shot, Karl shows a simple two-light setup ideal for this type of photography. This setup, ideal for small studio spaces, uses the technique of indirect lighting, which can be a useful alternative to using scrims. You’ll also see how using additional reflectors in a shot can be an easy (and affordable) way to add additional light.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • Creative photography ideas for shooting fashion accessories
  • Composition for photography
  • Colour choice and background selection
  • Indirect lighting techniques
  • How to use reflectors to add additional light

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.


    1. Hi, I prefer MDF boards or hardboard sheets (very thin MDF that is smooth only on one side) and then I paint them. But you can use matt acrylic or plain paper too.

    1. Hi Yoel, no I didn’t create a retouching class for this as I didn’t think it was necessary especially after many of our other retouching classes that have been produced that cover the same techniques.

  1. hey karl , i have question
    due too family of angles : angle of incidence equal to angle of reflection
    so shouldn’t the glass of the watch see the white board above it
    i just imagine that the glass should sees the board making like reflection on it

    1. Hi Amr, yes it is always due to the family of angles and reflection so if the watch didn’t see it then it wasn’t in the family of angles. Don’t forget the family also changes based on focal length, we have a great class coming up in December about all of this. See your calendar in your personal customer home page, open the full calendar link. I think it’s at the beginning of December.

  2. Hello Karl,

    Where is the flash located in this shoot? i can’t seem to figure out where it is placed

    thank you

    1. Hi, If that was one large softbox then the light would be homogenous and not sculpt the objects quite as well.

  3. Thank you so much for this. You had an issue with the sunglasses that I had to deal with a while back on a product shot I was making. Glad to see that what I ended up doing wasn’t wrong. I was shooting a small Shiseido jar made of highly reflective curved plastic. No matter what I did, I kept getting black edges reflected everywhere. I didn’t know what to do.
    The first solution was to make a small white box out of white polyboard around it. I wasn’t too keen on the result because it created squarish-looking gradients that went straight into the corners. I also tried making a large fabric tent around the entire scene, about the same size as your setup here, with larger white polyboards inside that. The tent was so that there would be white in the gaps between the polyboards. Naturally, they still looked dark, so I added lights, but then there were fabric wrinkles.
    Also, no matter what I did, the nearly spherical plastic cap of the jar reflected my black camera. I sealed off as much of the area around the camera as I could but couldn’t do anything about the lens.
    In the end, I decided to retouch out the imperfections. The problem with that was that the plastic the jar was made of had flecks of reflective material, like glitter, beneath some kind of clear coat over them. That meant I could not just do a quick spherical gradient. Instead, I had to do a very careful retouching job. My opinion, the end result wasn’t wholly successful.
    The problem you had with the sunglasses is similar but I think a spherical shape must be more difficult than the curves in the sunglasses. Do you agree? Or are they the same difficulty?
    Looking forward to the retouching tutorial!

    Best regards,


    1. Hi AP, yes spherical glossy objects are always the worse. The physics dictate that you will need a completely smooth spherical lighting solution to acheive perfection – imagine a huge white acrylic dome over the top of you that you could light from the outside or a huge dome studio our a complete box cove with curves into the ceilings as well as the floors (they have these for car photography). Only then can you light the sort of subject you are talking about seamlessly in camera. Of course because of the costs we normally make the best we can towards that lighting setup and then finish in in post.

  4. Hate to ask but I’d love to see how you clean the sensor on your digital back. It looks similar in design to the one on my Phase One, and it has the same 100 MP sensor if I’m not mistaken. Cleaning mine sometimes seems to leave more spots than it gets rid of. Not sure if I’ve ever been able to get it down to zero spots. About 5-6 is my record so far, and that’s after shooting medium format for five years.

    1. Hi, I get mine down to zero spots every time. I use high pressure clean air to blow the sensor and then these to wipe it – then the air again and that usually does the trick. Just be careful with the air that you squirt it away from the sensor first as there is sometimes propellant that comes out on the first squirt.

  5. DougHowell

    Karl thank you for the demonstration on the angle of reflectance. I have heard that phrase numerous times, but until now, I never really knew what it meant, or how to do it.

    1. Hi Dieter, because we go live 30mins before to test everything is broadcasting. Then within a few days we cut the front of on the recording of the live and republish it. So if you catch it live or shortly after live then you will have the long intro sequence but you can still fast forward if it’s not actually live.

  6. Hi Karl

    Thank you for doing this, flat lays are all the rage nowadays on social media, this was an easier version then the one you did last year (no large scrims to make).

    Now, if you can only do 360 product videos (of complicated products like jewelry) with F160 or other continuous lights.

    Did i understand this correctly, you lighted up the glasses first because they were the most reflective (and challenging) of all the objects and you wanted to get the light on them correctly without the influence of the key light?

    If you were shooting a gemstone ring, in your opinion would it be better to get the light on the gem correctly first and then bother with the rest of the ring? or do you think that a ring is such a small object that it does not matter what you light up first

    Thanks a bunch


    1. Hi Amit, thanks. your Q1. Yes that’s why I did it that way. Your Q2. With a ring it’s so small it’s not going to make such a difference you just need to be aware of the reflection vs dispersed reflections scenario in gloss surfaces compared to exposure of indirect reflections to decide on how far away you put the lighting.

  7. Hi Karl, great show as always. Sorry I couldn’t attend the live version.

    Question for you regarding the sunglasses: could you move / tilt the glasses so that they reflect a white “edgeless” piece of the white board, rather than filling the area with additional panels?

    Cheers from Buenos Aires.


    1. Hi Jorge, yes if the glasses had been tilted more upwards the white board above would have filled them better but because the lenses were still slightly curved I don’t think it would have filled them unless I used the much large car floating ceiling.

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