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Lights On, Lights Off

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

An ongoing debate. Some want to show the recessed can lights, others insist we can see them anyways.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider joining Team Lights Off.

We can still see without lamps during the day


Color Temperature

White counters are white. Many homes choose to use "Soft White" bulbs for a warm look when they're relaxing in the evening and that's swell. For photos however, these orange light sources bounce onto surfaces creating awkward casts. The only warmth that should be present is a natural glow from the sun.


Soft White aka Orangetopia aka The Enemy of Interior Photographers Everywhere


Visual Flow

Eyes are immediately attracted to the brightest parts of images aka ceiling lights and lamps are seen before interior features.


The trail of tiny suns can be quite distracting

Editorial

Flip through Architectural Digest, Dwell, Home & Garden or any design magazines and you'll notice lights are off. Viewers are encouraged to step into a space and the take in the ambience without an initial pause.


No lights here fighting for attention


Single Origin

We want a single light source and avoid objects that can create artificial shadows and highlights that create confusion. South-facing rooms or an overcast day? No worries, techniques in shooting and/or editing can be used to aid in filling-in or emulating a clean and well-lit look.


We can see the custom lamp and bulb detailing


Exceptions

I'm known for my natural and inviting look of images, and this is one important steps of many in how I build them. Of course as with most anything, there is flexibility and some exceptions.


Certain statement lamps, cabinet lights and accented stairs may be key features. Some clients have a very strong preference for everything to be on and this can be accommodated so long as it is communicated in the beginning of the shoot as this may not be an individual photographer's typical workflow.


For commercial and design clients in particular where there is much more time per photo (half to full day for creating a select and perfect set of images vs an hour to two for real estate) and in the editing phase to implement advanced techniques to retain only the desired effect.


From the perspective of photographers and visual creatives in general, it's our specialization to pay close attention to what attracts or distracts viewers from the primary objective.


Embrace the natural

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