September 21st, 2016
Larry in Philadelphia asks:
I have read material on the Photography for Real Estate site, your publication regarding RE photography for realtors, Scott Hargis’ text on lighting and have seen every video that I can find online. Nearly all of these educational materials talk about the importance of using “bright” photos when shooting for interior real estate (MLS listings). I totally agree, as bright RE photos just look best to me. However, whenever I study the photos listed on Flickr’s Photography for RE, I see a fair number of photos that get praised, but to me, they appear much darker than what I like. Many times the darkness is on one-half of the room as the brighter side of the room is lit by the window light. When I shoot rooms of this nature I tend to add supplemental light (multiple speedlites) in an attempt to balance the light in the room. In other words, I want the area of the room away from the window light to be as bright as the side closest to the windows. Am I incorrect in doing this in my attempt is the make the room as bright as possible, without appearing flashy?
The real estate photography guideline of making interiors look light and bright is relative to the poorly lit interior shots that non-professional photographers produce.
There is no absolute standard for how consistently bright an image is across the whole image. The general standard for most upper-end interiors photographers is to try and make the room look naturally lit while beginning real estate photographers tend to over light and not pay attention to the natural direction of the light. Scott Hargis’s lynda.com video class talks about how flash lighting can complement and be in the same direction as the ambient light.
It all depends on what your clients like and can appreciate. I think many accomplished interiors photographers would say, “light the space so it looks well lit in a way the viewer can’t tell you are using artificial light.”