For more about Jessica Randhawa, check out the Coffee and Crayons influencer spotlight.
Jessica Randhawa, owner of Coffee and Crayons, is a successful influencer with an emphasis in Pinterest. An early Pinterest adopter, Jessica loved having a social media platform that helped organize and optimize her photo journals while expanding upon her blog content creation. Today Jessica’s content for Coffee & Crayons details motherhood, original recipes, food photography, and nature.
Program after program, Jessica’s beautiful flat lay photography has received high praise. Because flat lay photography is especially effective in influencer marketing programs, we decided to pick her brain for a few tips on how to perfect the coveted flat lay photo.
Check out our interview with Jessica below.
How did you get into photography?
From a very young age I knew I loved photography. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a photographer so that I could make custom calendars. Throughout my travels in Southeast Asia and Europe, I took thousands of photos on my point and shoot camera. It wasn’t until the birth of my son, however, that I really learned photography.
When I decided to start Coffee & Crayons, I invested in my first DSLR camera and practiced as much as possible on whatever subject I could find. I think that’s what drew me to food photography; it’s always available. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to create beautiful images.
We love the way you’ve art directed your flat lay photos for paid sponsorship opportunities like Progresso and Annie’s Homegrown. What do you like best about flat lay photos?
I think my favorite part about flat lay photos is that they allow me to get images from far away and close up. With so much freedom I am able to really capture the style and mood of the shoot. Plus, I just think they look the awesome.
What’s the hardest part about shooting flat lay photography?
Probably the styling of the shoot. Sometimes, the dish really speaks for itself and doesn’t need any styling. Other times, however, I like to create a specific mood for the shoot using multiple plates, ingredients from the recipe, flatware, etc. Getting all of this set up and in balance before the food is out is easy, but once the food is there you can only hope that it looks like you envisioned. Also, blurry images are a pain point. I struggled with blurry images for a long time.
What tools do you need to perfect the flat lay photo? Tripod, ladder, wide table, accessories, etc.?
Haha, all of the above. Although, instead of the ladder, I use a chair. I have tons of props that I have collected over the past couple years that help with the styling. They don’t need to be expensive; in fact, one of my favorite props are pieces of a wood fence that were just sitting in a pile on the side of the road. I may have also asked my husband to drag home a waterlogged piece of someone’s broken deck that was sitting on the side of the Rogue River in Oregon… we don’t live in Oregon. Props aside, natural lighting is key and a light reflector is essential.
What tips do you have for those who struggle to shoot flat lays?
Patience. I still get frustrated and struggle sometimes and there are days when my photos just don’t turn out as I expected. Don’t let it discourage you! Try again the next day.
You manage to edit your photos on programs like Old El Paso to be both bright and vibrant at the same time. What does your editing process look like?
I use Adobe Lightroom. It’s the most amazing program I have ever used.
You’ve over performed on nearly all of your Linqia programs – even by nearly 200% on several occasions. Do you see an increase in engagement when you use flat lay photography? If so, how much and why do you think that is?
Flat lay photos are great for social media platforms like Pinterest. Since many of my followers come from Pinterest, I always try to include at least 1-2 flat lay images per shoot. Having a variety of angles also helps keep readers interested and is really useful for stacked pins or when sharing the same post several times on the same social media platform.
How has shooting flat lay shots affected your Instagram strategy?
Instagram is tough. Despite that, however, Instagram remains one of my favorite social sharing platforms. I love flat lay shots for Instagram because, to me, they are the most interesting. It allows a person to “get the whole picture” right away. I see this as a good thing. If they’re interested, they’ll want to see more.
You created a video for your program with Lindsay Olives. How is shooting flat lay photography different from producing a flat lay video?
Flat lay video requires less props and overall investment in the “mood” of the shoot. With video, I try to keep it clean and free from distractions since I will ultimately be adding text. Capturing flat lay video is easier in terms of shooting, but far more time consuming when it comes time to edit.
What is your favorite flat lay shot from your Linqia programs? Why?
I love the results I got from the Old El Paso #GameDay campaign. For this program I did Buffalo Chicken Salad Taco Boats and Churro Ice Cream Sundaes. I put a lot of thought into the details- the stacked plates, the wooden cutlery, the football themed banner (used as the background) and football themed paper cups to hold the sundae toppings. Every piece of corn or lettuce is where it is intentionally.
Which has been your favorite Linqia program so far? Why?
I loved both Old El Paso programs! The products, and program overall, really allowed me to be as creative as I wanted. As a result, I took fun photos of fun food.