Taking Flat Lay Photos of my Coffee Escapades
Step into my world of coffee
I enter a small, charming coffee shop and then smell the familiar– Mmmm….Coffee! I find the coziest seat usually by the corner and lug my heavy bags as I hurriedly secure my spot. I go through my bags, take out my laptop, book and journal, which I probably won’t touch anyway.
I walk to the counter to order my coffee and then back to my seat to wait. I look around, watch strangers chatter, and breathe in all the positive and inspiring energy that a coffee shop usually emanates. Ah, isn’t this relaxing?
My coffee arrives. Yay! The temperature is just right – not too hot. Its distinct smell, with notes of dark chocolate and nuts, disperses through the room, making my neighbors order another round of coffee. Wow, coffee does wonders. I thought to myself, now’s the time.
Right when the mood is right, the lighting and presentation are good, I take out my camera and shamelessly take photos of my coffee.
If you’re like me, you take flat lay photos of your coffee mostly to share on social media or to memorialize your visit. Either way, looking through old photos of my coffee escapades helps take me a trip down memory lane.
However, I realized that most of them did not even make it to my social media accounts. I decided to resurrect them back from my archives to give them the recognition that were due to them months or years ago.
Thus, this article aims to commemorate all the coffee shop visits I’ve made and will continue making across neighborhoods, cities and countries.
I also provide insights on how I take my flat lay coffee photos, but I cannot guarantee that I’ll be able to turn you into one of those shameless Instagrammers (like me) who take photos of their food before eating. That decision is up to you.
Choosing my coffee and setting the presentation
I’m not (yet) a coffee connoisseur, so oftentimes when I want to chill and take my time in a coffee shop I order a cappuccino. Aside from the thick full milk that fattens me up, a cappuccino’s latte art also adds flair and aesthetic to flat lay photos.
If you prefer black though (and there’s no latte art to flaunt), it’s fine as long as you have other props such as food to add texture and colors.
When I’m only having a cup of coffee, I usually take a photo of it against the background of the coffee shop. It also helps me to remember how the coffee shop looks like and be nostalgic about what was going on at that time. The second photo (right side) was taken at my favorite coffee shop in Toronto, Goldstruck. I kept going back to that coffee shop for its great coffee and ambiance.
On the other hand, if there are food or other drinks on the table, I place them close together – but not too close that they’re touching each other. This makes it have a tighter shot especially from the top view.
Taking photos of my coffee
I use my iPhone to take photos of what I eat or drink. It’s already embarrassing enough to take a photo of your food in public. You wouldn’t want to attract more unsolicited, silent judgment from strangers by using your bulky DSLR.
Kidding aside, sometimes I don’t really give an eff. The third photo (on the right) was actually shot using a DSLR. Based on my experience, it’s much handier to shoot casual food using a smartphone though. It’s a no-brainer, quick experience that doesn’t need manual adjustments and more space that a DSLR usually requires.
Besides, the quality of smartphone cameras nowadays is more than good enough to take casual photos of food and coffee. I wrote about my thoughts on iPhonetography (iPhone Photography) last week, which you can read here.
Once I have my presentation ready, I find the perfect angle to shoot from. And from that angle, I adjust the presentation as needed. Make sure you don’t forget about your main subject (coffee, of course!) and make it your focus.
I take plenty of shots from different angles and proximity. I usually do a close-up or tight shot, and then a zoomed out version just in case I want to edit and crop the photo myself.
Including hands or books as props
Last but not least, I make use of my body (or somebody else’s), books or tourism flyers to add more drama. Those elements actually help me go back to the memories as I remember more details of what people with me were wearing or reading.
In the first photo (left-hand), I was with my brother in Inverness (Scotland), having traditional Scottish breakfast at a Bed & Breakfast owned by a Kababayan (fellow Filipino) family. In the second photo (right-hand), I was with my older sister in Montreal. It was my first time in Canada and both our first time in Montreal. Our weekend there was spent eating a lot of delicious food and drinking amazing coffee.
In the first photo (left-hand), I was with my younger sister having coffee while reading at our newly found coffee shop called Group & Boiler in our neighborhood. We do this often just to chill and spend time together. In the second photo (right-hand), I was exploring the beach neighborhood in Toronto on a sunny day two years ago and found a cute, tiny shop that sells cupcakes and coffee. I chilled there for a bit while I wrote in my journal.
Walk into your own world of coffee
You could tell that I’m more keen and confident to story-tell through photos than through writing. I enjoy making everyday life more colorful and beautiful through the photos I take and edit.
By marrying two things that I love – coffee and photography – I transform what seems to be just another coffee day into a meaningful and picture-perfect memory.
The tips I gave were not as detailed as I originally would have wanted them to be. This was merely an attempt to introduce you to how I usually do my coffee flat lay photos. I’ll make a separate post about how I edit my flat lay photos soon.
For now, walk into your own world of coffee and start taking photos that one day will take you down memory lane, too.