How to Use Vessels in Flat Lays

01 Feb , 2019

Vessels are a wonderful tool that can be used to pull a flat lay together and add a sense of place and story to your flat lay. Vessels can be anything from a tiny pinch bowl to a large tray or bowl, plates, or pieces of organic material like slate, etc. Gathering a diverse collection of styling vessels will allow you to include them in your flat lays over and over again in different ways, giving you endless options. Not all of your vessels need to be neutral colors. Having a few neutrals to use in any flat lay along with some unique and colorful options to create something different from time to time gives you a well-rounded styling kit.

3 ways to use vessels in your flat lays


The vessel as the center of the frame and the focal point. Trays make an excellent focal point and can be used as the second layer over your Styling Mat to add depth and framing to your flat lay. Arrange everything completely inside of the tray or have items coming out and around the tray, just remember to keep the rule of thirds and symmetry in mind. Less is more when you have a beautiful tray or vessel of any sort, don't overdo the amount of items you use so that the tray can shine.

In this photo, the tray is the bold focal point and frame that pulls your eye to the center of the photo and allows you to comfortably rest your eyes on the intended subject of the photo, the stationery. 


The vessel as a small part of the whole. The following photo has 5 vessels, all holding different elements that contribute to the overall story. When using several different vessels, they can be different materials like you see here, but make sure to pay attention to colors and make sure that no one vessel is calling the attention of the viewer too strongly away from the subject of the photo. Grouping small vessels with other objects or vessels is important. A lone small dish that isn't in line with other objects in the flat lay can look out of place, again drawing the eye to an uncomfortable spot.


Stacking vessels and using them as the subject. Some of our favorite flat lays involve simply stacking bowls or plates. You generally want to go with a set or pieces that match well so that it doesn't look messy and random. Stacking also gives wonderful shadow and depth to a flat lay, making it much more interesting. Keep your story in mind when stacking and remember to choose pieces that make sense to the viewer.

Photography by Taken by Sarah Photography, Styling by Taken by Sarah Photography and Ramon Gomez