The Importance of Lighting in Property Photography: Techniques and Tips (2023)

Guest Author: Paula Hernandez

When it comes to marketing a property, the importance of high-quality photos cannot be overstated. In fact, studies have shown that the quality of property photos is one of the most important factors for prospective buyers or renters when searching for a property online.

However, while many property owners and real estate agents focus on the composition and angles of their photos, the impact of lighting on property photography is often overlooked.

The truth is, proper lighting can make a world of difference in the way your property is perceived in photographs. The right lighting can highlight the best features of your property. On the other hand, poor lighting can make your property look dull, unappealing, and even downright uninviting.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the importance of lighting in property photography and explore some tips and tricks for making the most of this critical element.

Whether you’re a real estate photographer looking to improve your marketing strategy or a property owner hoping to attract more buyers or renters, understanding how to use lighting to your advantage can make a significant difference in the success of your marketing efforts.

So let’s get started and discover how to take your property photos from ordinary to extraordinary with the power of lighting.

The Impact of Lighting on Property Photography

The Importance of Lighting in Property Photography: Techniques and Tips (1)

First and foremost, lighting can create a mood or atmosphere in a photograph. The right lighting can make a space feel warm and inviting, while poor lighting can make it feel cold and uninviting.

This is especially important for spaces such as living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, where potential buyers or renters will be spending a lot of time. By using lighting to create a cozy, inviting atmosphere, you can help potential buyers or renters envision themselves living in the space.

Another way in which lighting can impact property photography is by highlighting the best features of a space. For example, if a room has beautiful built-in shelving, proper lighting can draw attention to it and make it a focal point of the photo.

On the other hand, poor lighting can make the same shelving blend into the background and go unnoticed. By strategically using lighting to highlight the best features of a space, you can make your property photos stand out from the rest.

In addition to creating a mood and highlighting features, lighting can also make a space appear larger and more spacious. By using bright, even lighting, you can eliminate harsh shadows and make a room feel open and airy.

This is particularly important for smaller spaces such as bathrooms and closets, which can feel cramped and claustrophobic if not properly lit. By using lighting to create the illusion of space, you can make your property photos more appealing to potential buyers or renters.

Techniques for Lighting in Property Photography

The Importance of Lighting in Property Photography: Techniques and Tips (2)
The Importance of Lighting in Property Photography: Techniques and Tips (3)

Now that we’ve established the importance of lighting in property photography, let’s explore some specific lighting techniques that you can use to transform your property photos.

Natural Light

Natural light is often the best choice for property photography as it is flattering and can create the warm and inviting atmosphere that you would want.

If possible, schedule your photo shoot during a time when the natural light is at its best (typically early morning or late afternoon). Be sure to open any curtains or blinds to let in as much natural light as possible.

Ambient Light

Ambient light refers to the existing light in a room. This can include overhead lighting, lamps, and even light from the outside.

When using ambient light for property photography, it’s important to take note of the color temperature of the light (whether it is warm or cool).

If the light is too warm or too cool, it can make the colors in the photo appear unnatural. To combat this, you can use a color correction filter on your camera or adjust the white balance in post-processing.


Using a flash can be an effective way to fill in harsh shadows and create even lighting. However, it’s important to use the flash sparingly and strategically.

A flash that is too bright or too close to the subject can create unflattering, blown-out highlights. To avoid this, use a diffuser or bounce the flash off a nearby surface to create softer, more even lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting refers to lighting that is used to highlight specific features or areas of a room. This can include track lighting, spotlights, and even table lamps.

Accent lighting can be particularly effective for highlighting architectural details or artwork. However, it’s important to use accent lighting sparingly and strategically to avoid overwhelming the space with too much light.

Light Painting

Light painting involves using a flashlight or other light source to create patterns and designs in the photo.

This technique can be particularly effective for creating a unique and artistic touch to property photos. Light painting can be used to highlight specific areas of a room or to create a sense of movement in the photo.

To achieve this technique, set your camera to a long exposure and use a flashlight or other light source to “paint” the area you want to highlight. It may take some practice to get the desired effect, but the results can be stunning.

General Tips for Lighting in Property Photography

The Importance of Lighting in Property Photography: Techniques and Tips (4)

In addition to specific lighting techniques, there are some general tips to keep in mind when lighting your property photos:

  1. Use a tripod: A tripod can help you keep your camera steady and avoid blurry photos,
    particularly when using longer exposures.
  2. Avoid direct light: Direct light can create harsh shadows and unflattering highlights. Instead, use diffused light sources or bounce light off nearby surfaces to create softer, more
    even lighting.
  3. Experiment with different angles: Different angles can create different moods and perspectives in your photos. Try shooting from high angles, low angles, or even from outside the room to capture the best lighting and perspective.
  4. Don’t forget about exterior lighting: Outdoor lighting can be just as important as indoor lighting when it comes to property photography. Be sure to capture the property’s exterior during different times of the day to showcase how the lighting changes.
  5. Consider the color temperature: Different light sources can emit different color temperatures, which can affect the overall look and feel of your photos. Make sure to choose lighting that complements the colors and style of your property, and that creates a cohesive look across all of your photos.
  6. Avoid over-editing: While post-processing can be a useful tool for enhancing your photos, it’s important to avoid over-editing them. Too much editing can make your photos look artificial and detract from their overall quality.
  7. Think about the mood you want to create: Lighting can have a significant impact on the mood and atmosphere of your photos. Consider the type of property you’re shooting and the emotions you want to evoke and use lighting to create the right mood for your audience.
  8. Practice makes perfect: Lighting is a skill that takes practice to master. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out as you’d hoped. Keep experimenting, learning, and refining your techniques, and you’ll soon be creating stunning property photos that showcase your property in the best possible light.


In conclusion, lighting is a crucial aspect of property photography that should not be overlooked. Proper lighting can create a warm, inviting atmosphere, highlight the best features of a space, and make it appear larger and more spacious.

By using specific lighting techniques such as natural light, ambient light, flash, accent lighting, and light painting, as well as keeping general tips in mind, you can transform your property photos and make them stand out from the rest.


What is the importance of lighting techniques in photography? ›

Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. Lighting determines not only brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood, and atmosphere. Therefore, it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of colour, and luminosity on your subjects.

What is the best lighting for property photography? ›

Use Natural Light for Magazine Quality Interior Photos

To begin, if you look through an interior design magazine, you notice most of the shots using natural light. Therefore, for real estate photography, the best lighting source is natural light. So, just open the windows and curtains and let the sunshine in.

Do you need lighting for real estate photography? ›

Good lighting is essential for any type of photography, but it's especially important when shooting real estate. The right light can make a room look warm and inviting, while the wrong light can make it look cold and uninviting.

What is lighting techniques in photography? ›

Photographic lighting refers to how a light source, artificial or natural, illuminates the scene or subject that is photographed.

What are the three lighting techniques in photography? ›

The three types of lights are key light, fill light, and backlight.

What is the most important technique in photography? ›

1. Framing. Framing is a popular compositional technique that involves using elements of a scene to create a frame around your subject. This may serve to emphasise your subject, but can also provide context and help you tell a story through your image.

What is good lighting for outdoor photography? ›

To get the best light, try going 2-3 hours before sunset or 1-2 hours after sunrise. The sun at these times is pretty low and doesn't cause contrasting shadows. It does provide you with great outdoor portrait lighting. A gloomy cloudy day produces soft light for outdoor portraits with a natural, rounded look.

How do you take bright real estate photos? ›

6 Tips for Taking Real Estate Photos
  1. Clear out any exterior obstructions. ...
  2. Make sure your interior photos are precise and clean. ...
  3. Consider the height of your tripod. ...
  4. Use natural light. ...
  5. Showcase the set pieces of the home. ...
  6. Take plenty of photos.
Jun 7, 2021

What makes good real estate photography? ›

Keep in mind the shutter speed and white balance on your camera should be set correctly to ensure your photos get enough light. In real estate photography, images should have warmth and brightness to attract buyers and renters. Keeping the rooms well-lit will ensure they do not appear too cold or dark.

How important is photography in real estate? ›

Professional photography and video are important when selling a property because they serve as the first impression of the property for potential buyers. They provide a visual representation of the home and its features, showcasing the space and creating an emotional connection with potential buyers.

Why is good photography important in real estate? ›

It's vital to attract prospective homebuyers through cutting-edge visuals. High-quality real estate pictures can give homebuyers that valuable first impression that can lead to a phone call--or even a sale. Properties represented by high-quality photos are also likely to sell faster and for more.

What are the 4 types of lighting photography? ›

As Sudhakaran mentions in the video, there are four types of light that every aspiring photographer should recognize: hard, soft, specular, and diffused. Differentiating between the four can be tough for the untrained eye.

What are 4 types of lighting methods? ›

There are four main types of lighting – ambient, task, accent, and decorative.

What are the 5 characteristics of light in photography? ›

Photography is “writing with light.” So, let's build our conversation about lighting on five fundamental characteristics of light: Direction, Intensity, Color, Contrast, and Hardness.

What is the best lighting technique? ›

The light source should be higher than eye level and pointing down toward the subject's face in the direction they are facing. An additional light source (fill light) or reflector can also be aimed at the darker side of the face to ease the shadows. Be sure to not place your reflectors down low angle up.

What is the most common lighting technique called? ›

1. Key Lighting. The key light is also known as the main film light of a scene or subject. This means it's normally the strongest type of light in each scene or photo.

What are the four major aspects of lighting? ›

The Four Elements of Lighting
  • Direction. This is where you are shooting in relation to your light. ...
  • Intensity. This is referring to the brightness of your light and how the brightness relates to other lights in the shot. ...
  • Softness. ...
  • Color. ...
  • Learn more about the Muse Film School here.

What are 11 tips in photography? ›

11 Tips for Beginner Photographers
  1. Don't go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away. ...
  2. Consider a tripod. ...
  3. Keep your camera with you all the time. ...
  4. Make a list of shots you'd like to get. ...
  5. Don't overlook mundane subjects for photography. ...
  6. Enjoy the learning process. ...
  7. Take advantage of free resources to learn.

What is the number one rule in photography? ›

As a rule of photography, you must frame the photograph visually inside the camera itself. The surroundings are full of objects which make ideal natural frames, such as trees, archways, and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world.

How do you make real estate pictures pop? ›

All you have to do is take lots and lots of photos from different angles, trying your best to bring out the feature you're looking to emphasize. Use the rule of thirds and move around the room a bit, bringing the camera low to the ground or high above your head if necessary.

How do you make real estate photos look professional? ›

Real Estate Photography Tips
  1. Ensure the Property is Clean Before the Shoot. ...
  2. Find a Good Home Stager. ...
  3. Choose the Right Time to Shoot. ...
  4. Use a Tripod. ...
  5. Choose the Right Lens. ...
  6. Use Ambient Light When Possible. ...
  7. Be Careful Mixing Color Temperatures. ...
  8. Choose the Best Perspective.
Nov 22, 2022

What settings for real estate photography? ›

Adjusting The Settings On Your DSLR
  • Change the settings wheel to the manual mode – AV.
  • Set the ISOs to 400.
  • Set the aperture to F/8.
  • Adjust the shutter speed according to how the image looks in the live view (do this at the point of taking the picture)

What is a key lighting? ›

Keg Lights start out as former beer kegs that are upcycled to becoming decor for your brewery, restaurant, bar, tavern, pub, entertainment room, man cave or she-shed. To create the sconces, the kegs are cut in half and the sharp edges sanded down.

Do you need flash for real estate photography? ›

One of the necessary parts of real estate photography is using flash. This is something that every beginning photographer should learn. This is definitely handy in real estate.

How do you arrange lighting for photography? ›

In strobe light photography, the best lighting for photography is to have two light sources on each side the camera, 45-degrees between being a straight-on light source and a sidelight when you are taking portraits. This placement produces a soft shadow and depth while leaving out harsh dark shadows.

What is a property photography? ›

Real Estate Photography is all about creating captivating images that can sell a property and be worth thousands of dollars. We have put together a series of real estate photography tips gathered from top photographers that would help you shoot images that sell homes and get ahead of the game.

What filter do real estate photographers use? ›

Photographers often use a circular polarizer filter (CPL) for landscape, outdoor, and street photography. The CPL is one of the best filters for real estate pictures, especially when shooting outdoor real estate property listing photos.

What time of day is best for real estate photography? ›

The sun is your best friend when shooting photos for real estate listings. Many real estate photographers will tell you the best time of day to break out the camera and start snapping shots of homes for sale is late morning and early afternoon, when the sun is generally shining brightest.

How lucrative is real estate photography? ›

The short answer is that a full-time real estate photographer can expect to earn between $50,000 to $150,000 as a solo photographer, quite a bit more if you build a team over time. All figures are general estimates for educational purposes only.

Is real estate photography a good side hustle? ›

Becoming a real estate photographer is a great way to make money with a photography business that doesn't rely on portraits.

Does the real estate photographer own the photos? ›

The short answer is whoever took the photo unless they signed away their rights in a written agreement. This means you the photographer own the images, not the real estate agent, not the homeowner, and not the MLS unless you signed an agreement with one of them transferring the rights to your images.

What is the most important thing about real estate? ›

The adage "location, location, location" is still king and continues to be the most important factor for profitability in real estate investing. Proximity to amenities, green space, scenic views, and the neighborhood's status factor prominently into residential property valuations.

What is the most important trait of a photographer? ›

a creative mind. knowledge of photography techniques. the ability to use a wide range of cameras and lenses. to keep up to date with changing technology.

What are the 5 stages of lighting? ›

The stage lighting has five main elements: light, color, contrast, movement, and focus.

What are the 6 features of light in photography? ›

The 5 Characteristics of Light
  • Direction: Where is the light coming from.
  • Intensity: The brightness of the light source.
  • Color: The color of the chosen light (ex: yellow, white, blue, red, etc.)
  • Contrast: Transition between highlights to the shadows.
Mar 21, 2023

What are the 3 sources of lighting? ›

What are sources of light?
  • The Sun (and other stars) The sun is our planet's major natural source of light. ...
  • Natural fires (bush fires) Bush fires can be created when lightning strikes. ...
  • Fire. Fire is known as the original source of artificial light. ...
  • Torches. ...
  • Fireworks.

What is high key lighting in photography? ›

High-key lighting reduces the lighting ratio in the scene, meaning there's less contrast between the darker tones and the brighter areas. Alternatively, low-key lighting has greater contrast between the dark and light areas of the image with a majority of the scene in shadow.

What is the importance of lighting techniques in film? ›

The way a scene is lit dictates so much to the audience, the job of lighting in video production is to communicate the mood, the atmosphere, and to help in telling a story. If you see a film that is poorly lit, it doesn't matter how good the story is; lighting is vital in showing the audience a narrative.

How does lighting affect mood in photography? ›

Strong light adds depth and drama to a photograph. Soft light lets you capture subjects in a gentle, quiet moment. The direction of the light source has a profound effect on our perception of it and on how an object in a scene will appear. For example, front lighting doesn't reveal form.

How important is lighting in photography explain the three point lighting and its usages? ›

The purpose of 3-point lighting—which is used in traditional photography, cinematography, and 3D visualizations—is to properly illuminate a subject in an effective and pleasing way by simply using three separate lights.

Why is lighting important in a scene? ›

Lighting is used not only to create a well exposed image, it is also used to create tone and mood. Lighting alone is enough to convey emotion in a scene, and as filmmakers it is one of our most powerful tools.


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