Styling Top-Down Shots for Instagram

Posted on April 12, 2016 | Updated on January 25, 2023

Are you a blogger that wants more traction on Instagram? Then you’ve come to the right place! Many bloggers use Instagram as another platform to produce content for their audience. It’s a great way to build a better connection with your fan base by letting them get to know you better. You can also publish exclusive content and professional pictures of whatever your next blog post is about.

No matter what their content is about, all bloggers have one thing in common — they know how to take killer pictures for Instagram. One style they use is called top-down. This is where they lay props on a floor tile or table, and take a picture from an aerial angle that looks straight down.

This style will make your Instagram pictures stand out from the rest of the pictures in your followers’ feed. Now, let’s talk about the best ways to style your top-down shot.

Natural Lighting

Some bloggers have professional lights set up to take their pictures. However, nothing beats the look of natural light. It makes the image crisper, and the item that you’re capturing in the picture will stand out more.

Whether you’re shooting on the floor or on a table, you should set up next to a window. Make sure the light comes from the back. Not only will this create an attractive image, but the light will also get rid of the shadow from your phone.

Natural light is always the way to go. Try different areas in your house near windows or doors until you find a spot where your picture looks the best. Also, try to take pictures at different times of the day to see when the lighting is the best. You’re going to take a lot of pictures in the beginning until you find the perfect way to take your top-down photo.


The background of your image is just as important as the thing you’re taking a picture of. Your background can make or break or picture.

You should make sure you have a neutral background for your pictures. If your background has a fancy design or crazy pattern, it’ll make the entire picture look way too busy. It’ll also take the attention off the item you’re photographing, since everyone will be looking at the background.

Luckily, it isn’t difficult to find a neutral background. If you have a white tablecloth, you can lay that on the ground and use it as a background. A light-colored floor tile could also work just as well. Sometimes, a wooden table is a great background, and it’ll make the items in your photo pop out. A wood background is especially attractive for pictures with food.

Color for Instagram

Make sure you pay attention to the color you use in your top-down shot. You can use color to tell the story of your photo.

Different colors evoke different emotions. If there’s a certain point that you really want to hit home, then use that color as the theme for your picture. Nothing looks better than a picture that uses the same color palette. Using other items in your picture of the same color is a great way to fill white space.

Another way to eliminate white space is to add a pop of contrasting and exciting colors. For example, a sprinkle of colorful confetti might complement a relatively neutral-colored item. You have to be careful that the addition of more color doesn’t make the photo look too busy. Experiment with contrasting colors and see if it makes your picture look better.


The space of everything in your picture depends heavily on the angle that you take it from. If you’re taking the shot from directly overhead, then it’s important that every item and prop in your picture is spaced out well.

When you take an overhead shot, the picture will be an exact rectangle or square. Everything in that picture should be spaced out evenly so it looks neat, organized, and not too crammed.

A top-down shot with one item is pretty boring. Let’s say you’re trying to get a shot of a single product. That product is in the middle of the photo and there’s nothing else around it except a ton of white space. This isn’t good. There are a few ways to fill this white space, but the best way is to use props.

Use Props

There’s no better way to fill white space and add more value to the item you want to take a picture of than using props.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best props. First, a prop has to be related to your original item. If you’re taking a shot of your business card, use items that relate to your business as props. The props need to make sense with the message you’re trying to relay with your photo.

You should also make sure the prop is more subdued than your item. You don’t want a prop on the side to stand out more than the item you want people to be looking at. It should be related to your item, but not more interesting than it.

Get the Shot

Now that everything is set up, it’s time to take the shot. If you have everything set up on the floor, you can just stand over it and take the picture from above. If it’s set up on a table, try to stand on a stool or sturdy chair to get the right angle.

Take many pictures, since chances are very slim that the first photo will be the best one. After you take the picture, it’s time to upload it to Instagram. Try not to use a filter, since the lighting and color should be enough to make the picture look great. However, if you do use a filter, make sure you use the same filter for all of your pictures. Consistency is key for your brand.

You’re ready to take a beautiful top-down shot for Instagram! Now get everything set up and watch the Likes roll in!

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at


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