I have been asked to do a commercial shoot which will involve shooting interiors with a lot of tiled surfaces (bathrooms, receptions, leisure centres).

I will be on my own without the aid of an assistant. I have a Canon EOS 5D Mkii, 24-105mm lens and basic flash gun with a tilt head and a tripod.

I am more accustomed to shooting outdoors and would like some advice on how to go about this. I will be visiting multiple locations over one day so will be limited for time. Some of the locations will be busy with general public and I may not have access to a power supply.

Should I bring some sort of lighting with me and if so what is the best way to set up when I will be working with so many shiny surfaces? Alternatively would I be better trying to make the most of ambient light and using fill flash?


2 Answers 2


Lighting off the camera is going to be a distinct help, but you probably should be aware of a few things in doing so:

  1. Hotshoe flashes are small lights, so you want some diffusion if possible. This can be an umbrella or even your own homemade reflector that you point the flash at. Anything that softens and spreads the light so that the source is not concentrated.

  2. You'll probably have mixed light, especially if the flash is more for fill (and that probably makes sense). This means that you might need to put a gel on the front of the flash in order to get proper white balance. So, for tungsten lighting, you might need a CTO (color temperature orange) gel and for flourescent, a plus green. I do note that is a case of you might need it, it depends on the ambient lighting. Either way, you can usually get these gels at decent camera stores.

  3. Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection. You have shiny surfaces and you need to angle your light to avoid having it reflect directly back into your lens and blowing out the scene. Ever notice when you see eye glasses wiped out by flash? The way to avoid that is to raise (or lower) the flash so that the light is angled so that when it reflects, it reflects down and out rather than straight in to the lens. This well nigh impossible to pull off if the flash is mounted on your camera and pointed at the subject.

  4. Kind of in line with item 2, get a gray card (or some other aid) to get correct white balance and shoot this card at every location. If you shoot raw, rather than JPEG, then you can use this get correct color and then mass apply that to all images at that location. Very handy and saves enourmous amounts of time.

That covers my thoughts... If I have more, I'll add them.


You really will want to use off camera flash. A simple stand and umbrella will make the shots much better. Cheap and very transportable.

The Strobist has tons of information on this. Read the Strobist 101 series. Especially http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101-traveling-light.html

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to learn something here too. I wonder if they should do anything to avoid harsh reflections on the shiny surfaces? do you think using a continuous lighting source is useful here, so we could actually see the reflections? also isn't a soft box more useful here than umbrella? \$\endgroup\$
    – Omne
    Sep 25, 2012 at 21:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ continuous vs strobe makes zero difference on reflections. Yes, a softbox is in general more useful, but also more expensive. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2012 at 23:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Omne - See point 3 in my response on how to do something like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Sep 26, 2012 at 3:16

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