Lighting property photographs is one of the most important things when it comes to getting great results, time after time in a range of different situations. Good, effective lighting is also one of the most difficult parts of interior photography to master. It takes a great deal of practice and experience to know how to light spaces in a way that looks natural and enhances the room. It’s fairly straightforward to fire a flash into a room and make everything look brighter, but that’s not what I am talking about here. Good lighting almost never comes from an on camera flash, and even less so from a direct on-camera flash. If you were to take a picture of a room from directly in front of the only window the results would not be nice. There would be little shadow and depth to the room and items in it. That’s pretty much what on camera, direct flash is and that’s neither flattering nor realistic. Great additional lighting only comes when you have the tools and the experience to use them properly.
Below are a few examples where we have added light to the shot to improve the end result. Lighting is not only key when it comes to illuminating a space (or series of spaces) but is so important to enhancing depth, texture and mood as these examples show.
To enable us to catch the detail in the flames of this log burner, the rest of the room was much to dark. By adding light we were not only able to improve the brightness levels of the room but also to bring out the texture and details in the bricks, stove and mantle piece.
I’m excited by interesting properties. It’s why I love this job. While I have my favourite periods and styles, any home that provides excitement either through its architecture or through its interior design, wins my vote.
I have seen very many houses. The number of houses in which I have produced property photographs easily run into the thousands and I tend to remember the photographs of most of them. Tell me an address and I’m hopeless. But show me the pictures and chances are I’ll remember quite a lot about the place. I’m a visual person so it makes sense I remember pictures rather than words. The truth is I have to connect with a property before I can produce photographs of it. Sure I can take pictures of a house as soon as I walk through the door but they will be snaps because I won’t know why I’m taking the pictures and what I am trying to convey. I like to tell the story of the property, and it’s always easier to tell a strong story with substance behind it than have to try and make a story from something wishy-washy.
This contemporary conversion of, what was before, quite a run of the mill house had a strong story. Secret doorways, interesting furniture and strong, confident colours. It wasn’t hard to find things to point my camera at but I had to remember this house was for sale. I’m a great believer in not giving everything away online. You want the ability to still be able to delight and surprise anyone coming to view the property and so I had to be careful about what I chose to shoot, making sure that I showed enough to get people in. It’s one of the trickiest things to balance, and only experience will tell you what you need to show and what will convey better in real life than in a photograph.
As a property photographer you might expect the large country estate or the penthouse apartment to be the properties we love to photograph. Sometimes however, it can be the unassuming house in a small village that, when lavished with attention and imagination, can be the most rewarding to photograph.
Try as we might, it’s just not possible to photograph every aspect of every property on a sunny day with a blue sky. Often it will be a sunny day but half the sky is grey and sometimes there will be blue sky but no sun. There is also the issue that you can’t have sun on both the front and back at the same time. We’d need two suns for that luxury!