Real Estate Photos - Subtleties of Lighting

Its over 6 years since I became involved in Real Estate Photography and it has been an ongoing challenge to present properties in a way that will attract interest from buyers. One thing is clear, the agents comment on the increase in interest and numbers of inspections when the photos are done well. 

A recent trip to photograph a property during late afternoon/twilight at Tatong produced a good outcome for the vendors and their agent, but the timing of the trip had a big bearing on the outcome of the photos.

I organised with the agent to visit on a sunny day and the owners said that the direct sunlight disappears about 2 pm. This presented us with the problem of catching the sun before 2pm and then returning about 4.30-6 pm for twilight shots. So we decided on a 4pm slot and miss the sunshine. Twilight presents the property in 'good light', so to speak, with the soft afternoon natural lighting, balancing with the warmer house lighting. All good for creating a mood that often comes at that time of day when you kick off the boots, have a wine and relax. 

The problem comes however at this time of day, the inside lighting, which normally only adds a soft warm touch to the rooms begin to dominate, creating a yellow cast against a very blue or purple window light. In the brighter part of the day the rooms are normally lit by natural light from outside. The effect is a good balance of 'normal' room and furniture colours with a hint of softness from the inside lights. 

Here the inside lights in the kitchen tend to dominate the scene even though there is ample opportunity for the natural daylight to shine in. However at 5pm on a June evening in Victoria, the outside light is waning.  

Bathrooms often include heat lights which are very bright but usually override any other light sources with a strong orange cast. A way to represent more accurate colour in the bathroom is to switch the camera white balance to 'incandescent'. 

By the way here is an agent's view of the same bathroom without much consideration of lighting or compostion.