Lighting For Real Estate Photography Turns 26!!!


Click to preview the opening video from the series!


 I allowed an anniversary to go by un-remarked earlier this year, but it’s better late than never: it was 26 months ago last Friday that we launched the groundbreaking Lighting For Real Estate Photography video series — which has become the benchmark for learning to light interiors for photographers all over the world.

I’m extremely proud of this series — filmmaker Malia Campbell and I worked for many months to produce something that would be truly practical and useful for working photographers. We didn’t want it to be just a “hey-look-how-awesome-I-am” piece but rather something that would have a solid, practical, and immediate effect on someone’s else’s work.


This living room photo from high up in the Oakland, California hills has become the de facto “signature shot” of the entire series.

And the feedback we’ve gotten over the past two years tells me we accomplished this. I get emails almost every day like these:

“Hi Scott,
Just wanted to share with you a $7m home I photographed this past week.
Were it not for you, and your video course, I would have struggled to shoot this.
I’ve gone from Zero to Hero in the span of a few short months …thought you’d enjoy knowing the huge difference that you’ve made with this photographer.  Thank you.”

To everyone who has emailed me, Thank You. And thank you to everyone who just quietly bought the series, too. We went way out on a limb with this, with no guarantee of success, but I can say unequivocally, I’m very glad to have done it, if only to know that I’ve made some small impact to move photography forward a bit.


Going over the storyboard and cutting fluff.

Make no mistake —  emails like the one above are incredibly gratifying. Compared with the top dollar that many instructional videos command, we’re a bargain at $175. Especially so when you consider the value of your own time — we worked VERY hard to make sure that there is no “fluff” in our series. You won’t hear me droning on and on, repeating myself (which I’m prone to doing; Malia was one harsh editor and forced me to stay on-topic). We carefully sketched out every episode to make sure that it was packed with solid, practical information and not a lot of blah blah blah. The most recent episodes (le Monde Réel) are free-form conversations between myself and other working photographers and are full of the inevitable “Uh’s” and “Umm’s” that come with everyday speech. But the rest of the episodes are tight — every second of footage has a purpose!


This was one gnarly kitchen! Sunlight, black granite counters, lots of glass….my favorite episode is the one where we shoot this!

I think these videos are still as useful and solid as they were when we launched; even more so with the additional episodes that were added in later. They make a great companion to my book, which is in it’s second edition and which I’m equally proud of. One question I get asked a lot is whether it’s worthwhile to get both — e.g., is one different/better than the other?

I’ve never really known how to answer this; of course I think they’re both good and while there’s overlap, they present the material differently and go off in different directions at various points. The best resource I’ve seen was this discussion thread on Flickr, which I found illuminating.


One of the more fun photos we did — playing with fire…

If you’ve seen both and have an opinion….do me a favor and chime in in the comments section! I’d love to hear your thoughts, and so would a lot of others!


6 responses to “Lighting For Real Estate Photography Turns 26!!!

  1. The video series has definitely helped me. I often will go back and review the series.
    Are there plans of more videos in the future?

    Thank you!

  2. Congratulations and thank you so much for producing the video series and book. I purchased your video and book when I was just starting out RE photography, and in a short time period I’ve really come so far, not just for my work but also for my clients. Thanks again!

    • Can you comment on which I should start with Ling? I’m new to RE photography, and would love to buy both, but it would make more sense to me to buy them separately.

      Scott, was there meant to be a link to the discussion on Flickr you referred to at the end of the article?


      • Hi Rowan,

        Sorry this is late! I don’t get notifications for replies. I think both were extremely useful and compliment each other very well, but I am more of a visual learner, so I thought the video really helped me more quickly to get started and apply my knowledge faster. Kind of like, would you rather watch someone to teach you how to swim, or read a book on how to swim? I bought the book later for more comprehensive reading and learning, but to start off, I do suggest the video first

  3. You set such a high bar, but I continue to progress thanks to the videos, e-book & the personal generosity of members of the real estate photography community. I limit my work to the listings of my realtor-wife but she keeps me pretty busy. She has sold several properties to buyers “sight-unseen” based on the images we provide via the web & slideshows. Very cool! So I’ve decided to invest in your educational empire further by ordering the hard copy of the book because I can afford it (sort-of) & because I love “real” books. I hope it comes with an autograph!

  4. I think the book & video complement each other nicely. I like the hands on perspective of the video and I like the ability to refer to the photos as you allude to different problems you were trying to solve. I particularly like the part where people send in their own pictures and you ramble through the shoot with your insights and advice. These books & video are the best part of my gear bag.

    Am not sure where to put this question but I have had it ever since I saw the video of the Capitol Hill house. In that one you lit up the bottom of a stairwell by bouncing light off an umbrella with a black backer. You also did this on a small kitchen when you were emulating sunlight coming through a window.

    Most of your umbrella shots seem to be shooting THRU the umbrella. If you have a chance I would like to know when & why you pick shoot thru umbrella shots vs reflected umbrella shots.

    Thanks again for the good work!

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