Photographing homes


To maintain the great depth-of-field needed, I had to use two 800 Watt second White Lightnings to control contrast. I also used Tungsten gels to match the lights from the incandescent lights. White Balance was set for Tungsten for this particular picture.  I also tested it with White Balance set on Daylight. Since I shoot JPEG and RAW most of the time, this really wasn’t necessary. I like to experiment to see which gives better results in various situaions.  My camera was on a tripod and stopped down to f22. I used the self-timer since I didn’t have my cable or remote to trip the shuttter.

One of the best parts about being a freelancer is the variety of subjects I get to shoot.

bathroom_sink1Photographing homes is not especially hard. Sort of like fashion.

Only the best-looking models are featured in magazines. These pictures were for Inland Empire magazine.

So long as you light everything to accentuate what’s there, you’ll be in good shape.

Executing in those instances is quite easy.

It’s usually a matter of figuring out what is unusual about the home.

Choosing when to close in on details.

Having a good working knowledge of color temperature and how to match the various light sources is very important.

For this bathroom picture, the masks you see are actually reflections on the mirror. Lighting is tough in confined spaces because mirrors limit where you can place strobes. This special “sink” actually had its own illumination, so I metered and based my exposure on that. ISO 200 4 sec @ f9. Then I had to fire my small Canon Speedlite at least 4 times to build up the exposure to match the exposure for the sink. Firing the flash 2 times has the effect of increasing its output 1 f-stop. I used my 17-35 mm f2.8 lens for shot.

A tripod and strobes are a must.

Since depth-of-field is important, slow shutter speeds close to 1 second is fairly common.


Kitchens are favorites with most magazine readers. It must have something to do with “food.” There was nothing too complicated in this picture. I chose a higher viewpoint so that I could see the mirror-like finish of the granite counter top. Then, I metered to over-expose the exterior a little so that the distractions were blown out in the highlight areas outside. I adjusted my strobes to match the ambient household lights without over-powering them.

If the occupants of the house can swing it, twilight is sometimes a good time of the day to shoot.

It removes the distractions of powerlines and shrubbery but at twilight, you will need some serious power from your strobes to give you the small apertures needed. An assistant would be useful too. Since small apertures are what you’ll be after, expect to have your assistant trip the shutter while you “paint” the dwelling during long exposures.

The downside to photographing homes is often times you have to work around the owner’s schedule.


That means shooting at noon sometimes. In those instances, you hope there’s trees around which you can use as a natural frame.

5 thoughts on “Photographing homes”

  1. Hello Alan,
    Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and leaving a comment.
    I especially appreciate the fact that you understand the distinction between what I was hired to shoot and what architectural photographers do.

    Before leaving a comment anywhere in forums and blogs, I usually try to read about the author and get a sense of whether he/she is bragging because the written word has no visual clues and tone. 😉

    “Dissatisfied” was all over me for that one picture because something was misaligned. I admitted as much. Fortunately you can see the difference.

    Had this been a more traditional architectural assignment, I would have used Tilts and Shift lenses as you suggested.

    And if it was even higher end, I would have considered using a view camera.

    I agree this post would have been more helpful if I had mentioned the images ended up in a publication about “Homes” and not “Architectural Digest”. Thanks for not bagging on me, Alan.

    But if you feel the need to, please return here often to do so. I need the kick in the pants. The remarks or exchange might make this blog more fun to read. 🙂

  2. Pete,
    I am not going to bag on you as much as Dissatisfied did because obviously there is a massive difference between a “home” photographer and an architectural photographer. You weren’t doing an architectural assignment, with all the proper lenses, and unfortunately they missed that distinction. This post would have been more helpful if you’d explained what architectural photographers did and the differences between a home photographer and an architectural photographer.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your candor. It’s important. Perhaps it’s a matter of choice of words here where we disagree. I didn’t feel like I denigrated home photographers in my post but that’s the nature of words.

  4. I find it odd that you believe home photography is easy, when your resulting photos are boring. Your compositions are uninviting poorly thought out. The image of the bathroom with that amazing sink is crooked. I think if you thought of jobs as more of a challenge, you could raise the bar and put some creativity back into your work.

    I just don’t think you should go touting that a profession is easy when your results aren’t all that stellar.

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