Since I create interior and architecture photography in Arizona, I was recently hired to create photography of one of the model home’s sales office for Mattamy Homes Eastmark here in Arizona, one of their current 7 communities in the greater Phoenix area.
Mattamy Homes (if you’re not aware) is THE largest home builder in Canada, and quickly moving that direction in the U.S. with their new communities in Florida, the Carolinas, Minnesota, and Arizona. If you visit one of their communities you’ll see why. Quality, amenities, incredible designs, pricing, and nice (genuinely nice) people to work with, who love what they do.
The goal for my interior photography this day was to create multiple images which could be used for an award submittal. From what I witnessed with their quality and designs, they have a really good chance of earning that award.
Before every assignment, when time or travel allows) I prefer to plan a scouting trip so I can plan every shot that is needed, and which time of day is best for each to achieve the best results. Timing can be everything, particularly if high impact dusk images are needed of the exteriors because there’s only about a 10 minute window to get the right natural lighting as a base exposure. This shoot was only of the interior of their sales office, so timing was not as critical, unless there’s light blasting in through a window or door. In those cases, special actions are taken.
One of many tricks is to control the natural light by using temporary tinted window film over the outside of the exterior windows (if taping, only use gaffer tape), or by using faster shutter speeds to dial down the ambient light, or both. Sometimes black gobos are used to completely block the light.
When done this way, I can introduce strobes (or speed lights) to light the interiors. This is my preferred methodology. Not only can I create a more eye grabbing ambience in architecture photography this way, but seemingly sharper, more color accurate images. I can also control the normal “blues” that are created by natural daylight by simply gelling my lights in most instances, allowing me to keep things natural and warm. This takes much more time on-site as any one image can take anywhere from 40-90 minutes to create.
On the topic of colors, I ALWAYS shoot a color spectrum chart as post-reference under the lighting at a location. That way I can create a “profile” so the colors in the final images match as closely as possible. I use a ColorChecker Passport.
Another option that I sometimes have to use is to capture multiple exposures (bracketed at -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 exposures), to use for the base image, then manually mask and blend shadows and highlights in Photoshop. Different strokes, but I prefer getting it as close in camera as possible first, rather than having a cramp in my neck from sitting at the computer for countless hours.
Due to time constraints (no time for a scouting trip, and they needed the images really fast), this particular job dictated the latter, and most of the time spent for this quick turnaround was in post-production to insure smooth light blending without washing out colors or details.
When creating images of model homes for architecture (or interior photography)I definitely strive to use lighting whenever I can. Again, so I can control as much as possible in the final images.