How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography

Delve into the magnificent world of flatlays with Ja Soon Kim and her fantastic X Series images.

By Ja Soon Kim

I was a graphic designer and an art director in advertising for many years.

I hold a BFA in fine art. Photography is my passion.

Photography is an art form in that you are able to create or captures images that are uniquely your own vision. But first, you have to have the right equipment that is perfect for what you envision.

I used to shoot with an iPhone camera until I saw the color quality in the images shot with Fujifilm cameras. I knew I had to switch in order to achieve the subtle tones, colors, textures and depth that would enrich my images.

I had been considering several cameras. When a friend showed me his Fujifilm XT100, I knew this was it.

You don’t have to go somewhere special to find things to shoot. If you take a closer look, there are things you never noticed before that are beautiful. These are leaves I found while walking my dog.

I have been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for over a year. I started with a borrowed X100T and now I shoot with an X-T1. It is the perfect camera for me, just the right size and surface texture, not too heavy, great retro look, and it fits perfectly in my hands. It’s fun to shoot with. It didn’t take me long to learn the basics but there are endless possibilities with this camera. It has given me exactly what I was looking for in a camera.

One of the handy features I love about X-T1 is that I can transfer pictures directly, via WI-FI, from the camera to my iPhone. This is perfect for Instagram users.

I found all this beautiful spring growth on a walk in the countryside. I arranged them with a sense of movement using a variety of plants. Against a black background, they look elegant with their vibrant green stems.


Flatlay, or tabletop photography, is different from landscapes or portraits in that you are creating your own subject to shoot rather than shooting what is already there. It provides a totally different experience, creative control and it shows in the resulting images. This process has been deeply meditative for me. I work alone, without a crew, as I used to as an art director.

Shooting flatlay gives us total control over the subject and allows us to be creative in our own unique way.  You can use any material you find interesting. I work mostly with found or foraged props from nature that we all see every day and are readily available all around us. I don’t purchase props for shooting.

These fallen leaves were collected under an old cottonwood tree. I was fascinated with bug-eaten holes and the varying stages of fall colors. I used a simple arrangement for these. 

Light is everything in photography. I almost always set up my shots near a big window in my house. My typical background is a piece of plywood painted black on one side and white on the other or foam core boards in black or white. A very simple set up.  I use a tripod whenever necessary.

When I travel, I shoot on what is readily available: sandy beaches, beautiful rock, etc.

The lighting is the most important component of photography. I don’t use artificial lighting. I’ve tried them but it doesn’t have the depth and subtle variations that natural light offers. I love the shadows that appear with natural light. Shadows give depth and dimension to images.

These wilting flowers were found in my neighborhood and in my garden. Some are wildflowers.

This is a simple grid with various stages of fresh to wilting late summer blooms. I frequently save and reuse props as they dry, mixing them with other things to make new and different images. Nothing is wasted and ultimately all goes to compost.


Often they are more beautiful when they dry, so be playful and experiment.

My subjects are almost always found or foraged. The process of collecting, imagining how they might look together in my mind is part of my creative process. Ultimately, they do need to be selected and arranged in your own creative way that makes the picture beautiful and compelling.

Cultivate Your Own Style

These varieties of wild sunflowers bloom everywhere in the Southwest in late summer. All of them are collected from the sides of the road and arranged while still fresh in a very simple vertical design. I use reusable plastic containers to keep them fresh until I get home. Shot on silver PMS paper. 

Most of my pictures are shot with the XF35mmF1.4 R lens, a great everyday lens. I shoot with other lenses but I love the honesty and zero distortion of this lens.

I love shooting with wide angle lenses XF16mmF1.4 R WR or XF18mmF2 R when I am out shooting landscapes. I also shoot with the XF60mmF2.4 R Macro when I want to play with close ups or create different affects.

More recently, I’ve began shooting with the X-T2 and look forward to the types of images I can create with this beautiful camera.

Discover more of these images created with FUJIFILM X Series in my instagram feed!


7 thoughts on “How to Capture the Beauty of Nature in Flatlay Photography”

  1. Luis Curran – Vancouver, Canada – Luis Curran is a retired educator who enjoys indulging in his favourite hobbies of photography and travel. While at home (which doesn't seem to be too often!) he spends his time selecting, editing and posting the images from his latest travels on to his website at He invites you to visit the website and share in his experiences.
    Luis Curran says:

    Beautiful! Beautiful colours, beautiful design, wonderful creativity. Thank you.

  2. susurrus – Please visit my blog, where I celebrate gardening, nature, photos and creativity. As you'll quickly discover, I love most flowers. I'm here to have a little fun with other bloggers, finding new insights at every step of the way. I enjoy all forms of photography, from macro to more impressionistic shots, so often visit photography blogs to see what other people are sharing. I write about my other interests too including marketing, design, travel and writing - and, rather to my surprise - about the odd issue affecting us all that I just can't resist commenting on. The website link will take you to my home page, but please click on 'Blog' to see what I'm really up to!
    susurrus says:

    I love the wilted flowers – the colours and textures, and the way height is conveyed. Peonies and roses aren’t flat, even when faded, and you can sense this, even with the flat technique.

  3. Ben Choong – Property is my passion. I am in property business with OrangeTee, a home grown company based in Singapore. I would like to use the blog to share with you the major property news around the region, my views in the property market and any new launches that my company is marketing. Besides property, photography and mountain biking are my favorite past times. I will also use the blogging platform to share them with you. Cheers!
    Ben Choong says:

    You don’t have to be rich to enjoy beautiful things in life. Cheers!

  4. Jorge L Moro – I am primarily a landscape and travel photographer. My goal is to capture natural landscapes, and the beauty in this world as beautifully and as accurately as I can. I've been a Fuji X photographer since February 2013 with my first X camera - the Fuji X-E1 and a couple of Fuji lenses in addition to my older Minolta lenses via adapters
    Jorge L Moro says:

    Just gorgeous!

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