Contemporary Clinton Hill- Lights On

Photography is the art of Light.

Lighting, like painting, is a personal preference. And photography, no matter how main stream it is, is still an art form. And as in Art, there is no good or bad, only different.

Okay, that’s actually bullshit.


There is totally good and bad art. And good and bad interiors. And I would not be able to write such things today if I did not have the cringe worthy moments of professional growth behind me, to do so.

So, I hate lights. Okay, I don’t HATE lights. I love them actually, particularly since I’m getting to the age of needing readers. But when it comes to shooting interiors, I have been taught some very strong, and more importantly, some very sharp lessons with regard to lights. No lights. Every time I use them, I am unhappy with the result.

However, in recent months, clients have been developing opinions. Everyone fancies themselves a pro-novice and I hate to be the barer of bad news, so I simply go with it. “Melanie, you are so patient!” my clients tell me. “It’s fine!” I tell them. “We can do it your way, and then we can do it the right way.” I smile. When shooting with the intention of HDR (High Dynamic Range- the process of essentially, combining exposures on the back end), unless you are in a windowless bathroom, I find, lights can be borderline, detrimental to a shot. I also hate the flash (although I know that a good light box can truly light up those hard to get corners and can be a total game changer).

I actually prefer a cooler tone to my images. The camera sees gray anyway. Why make it muddy?

I know there are many people who disagree with me. However, my feeling is this: we are compensating for the exposure that will, without fail, get corrected on the post production end of things. Lights often yellow a scene, making it look dated and flat. I actually prefer a cooler tone to my images. The camera sees gray anyway. Why make it muddy?

I usually insist on this. But I do have clients that insist I shoot with lights on. I don’t argue, I just shoot everything twice. Ultimately, even if I spend more money on the back end, I am happy to educate my consumer.

The images above are from one of my favorite to-date clients who KILL it at New Development in Brooklyn. I love how they maximize the small spaces, that we call home in the city. For New Yorkers, our concept of space is rather skewed, but when I walk into these immaculately staged units, I find that every corner is accounted for so the buyers can truly envision themselves living this “Hip Brooklyn Lifestlye”. When I come in, its not only my goal to capture the space, but to capture small “vignettes” of what it can feel like to live here. The absence of Tungsten lights can help my cause.