I recently read many articles about the dilemma of light temperature in real estate photography. For light temperature I mean the different color of light emitted by fixtures such as table lamps, sconces, chandeliers, etc. I’m sure you have heard about warm white, soft white, cool white and daylight bulbs…
The real estate photographer’s approach
There are many aspects to consider before deciding whether to turn the lights off or leave them on. From the photographer’s point of view it is much easier to photograph a room with the lights turned off. When the lights are on they spread some color cast around the light fixture that is very hard to correct, especially if it is reflected on the wall. Moreover, if the bulbs within the same room are either a different type or, even worse, are missing, the challenge becomes a real problem.
This last scenario happened to me once: I had to photograph a bathroom vanity and one of the lights above the mirror was burnt out. Luckily I was able to fix it in Photoshop, and it was a pretty easy fix but still time consuming. However, I think that we all agree that a room looks much more inviting and welcoming if the lights are on. For this reason real estate agents always require them.
Here’s an example
The photo above is a clear example of what happens when the lights are on but the bulbs are different. The color cast emitted by the floor lamp on the left is much warmer than the one emitted by the table lamps on the right. Now, is it really a huge problem? It depends. For some photographers this is not acceptable from a technical (and artistic) point of view, but for some others this is ok because their main goal is to deliver an image that is welcoming and clearly shows the details of a room.
This room in particular was quite dark therefore, in my opinion, the lights on did make a difference, but as you can see we also incurred in the problem of having the light fixtures emitting light with two different temperatures.
Are you a real estate agent? If so, what do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion!
If you like this photo and would like to use it for your marketing material, go ahead and download it from my Unsplash account