I manage an estate agents and we have recently invested in a new camera, wide angle lens and speedlight to improve the quality of our photography. Depending on the client's budget, we can sometimes not afford to instruct a professional photographer.

I'm eager to go on a photography course but don't have the time at present.

So, my question is, where do I point the speedlight when photographing the interiors of properties?

Here are my results from one property today.

Can anyone suggest on how I could improve on the results, and, in specific, where in general I should be pointing the speedlight!

I have read this guide but it hasn't really helped me.

  • The link you provided to your example shots is broken. Can you edit your post and upload the example photo(s)?
    – scottbb
    Dec 8 '16 at 14:23

Like any lighting, this is not a simple one-size-fits-all type of deal. You have to think it through. Light should very much feel organic in the image and should have a reason for being there (i.e., "motivated light"). Nothing is more jarring than a light source in an image that your brain tells you just shouldn't be there. So think what light sources in the scene should be that aren't or aren't registering strongly enough (overheads, window light, etc.) and then try to use the speedlight to imitate that. Think in terms of the direction and quality of the light, and learn to use the ambient to your advantage. Don't expect to light an entire large space with just a speedlight without also using a high ISO setting and a wider aperture.

It's easier to control the direction and quality of the light if you can get the flash off the camera using remote radio triggers and onto stands with modifiers. But you can soften the light and choose some different directions by bouncing the light--that is, aiming the head of the speedlight towards the area you think the light should come from, and use the bounce/reflection surface as your light source. To avoid having any direct spill from the head, you might also want to flag it off.

Scott Hargis, in his Lynda.com course on lighting for real estate, often puts a speedlight on its small plastic screw-on stand, and balances it on the top of a door, and rotates the head to face into a nearby corner, so he can get soft bounced light for the rest of the room.

See also:


One quick suggestion is to bounce the flash (light, not the actual unit) off the ceiling or other large (white) surface to diffuse and spread the light. My other recommendation is to shoot from a lower position so the verticals aren't converging as much. The more you can keep the back of the camera level (i.e. not tilted) the better. See here for more tips.


The one time I did a few shots for this, I ended up looking up the notes at digital photography School. I found that if I pushed the ISO up to about 800 or 1600 and have the flash pointed to lighter surfaces, I got better results. Best thing to do is maybe ask friends and family for practice.

Real Estate Photography


Your camera is much too high. Also never photograph the bath with the toilet seat up. Bounce the flash off the ceiling.


It is certainly a loaded question. One speedlight will typically work best bounced between a wall and ceiling joint behind the camera. The theory being you are getting a soft diffused light.

Every situation is quite different though.

  • 1
    What do you mean by, "It is certainly a loaded question?"
    – scottbb
    Dec 8 '16 at 14:20

...or get a tripod and set a delay for 2 sec and wait of a bright day to let natural light inside. This will give authenticity to your photographs.. Of course you will need some photoshop touch before putting it online.

  • 2
    Why I downvoted: real estate photography typically means you don't get to set the day/time of when you're going to shoot a specific property, and in my opinion, enforced post-processing doesn't leads to greater 'authenticity'. Also, you can't count on every room having windows to light it (think: interior bathrooms or northern exposure). Real estate photographers make money on volume. Waiting around and endless dinking in post cuts into the bottom line. Had you mentioned HDR or something more equivalent to lighting, you'd have a more compelling case.
    – inkista
    Jan 23 '16 at 17:11
  • Although... Scott Hargis's blog entry, "Why We Light Things" pretty much says what I think.
    – inkista
    Jan 24 '16 at 2:12

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