Recently I wrote a question to one of my favorite blogs, PhotographyforRealEstate.net, explaining that when shooting homes it’s common to come across burnt out light bulbs, different hue light bulbs, or crazy color casts that change the color of true whites. Most replies (http://photographyforrealestate.net/2017/05/25/do-you-shoot-with-interior-lights-on-or-off/) seem to indicate that photographers doing real estate (as opposed to magazine shoots, etc.) take it on a case-by-case basis deciding if there is a need for the extra lighting.
If there are large windows with plenty of ambient light, then having the light fixtures on may seem redundant. But what I’ve noticed is, as some others explain, that when shooting with lights off – the environment seems less inviting and sterile. That’s what we see in magazines like Architectural Digest – and isn’t this what we’re striving for as photographers? To be compared to the best in the business of photographing buildings and interiors?
My conclusion is that if there is an interesting lighting source and it isn’t going to cast a giant yellow spotlight onto the white cabinetry, turn em on and let it shine. However, if there are green lights or different contrasting hues in a fixture – it’s probably better to just leave it off. Still, this yields the question – is it odd to have some lights on in home photos and others off? Does it create an imbalance and draw the viewer’s attention? Something to consider for sure…
Here are some examples I’ve taken: