Lighting Difficult Architectural Store Interiors

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published March 26, 2018

retail store in mall

This store interior was photographed for Saje Wellness in one of their store locations. These are often done before the store/mall opens, early in the morning. This is a composite of images with lighting equipment and a long exposure to match. The store interior lighting is compact LED bulbs which, well they are amazing for the environment, often look terrible in photographs.

I like to think, that in some sense anyway, I have built my reputation as a photographer by photographing some of the most difficult subjects I can think of. I enjoy it quite frankly, the process of doing something you weren’t even sure could be done in the first place, never mind doing that in an hour, or having to catch a plane by a specific time and that clock is ticking away (run-on intended).

I think I am somewhat of a generalist in my photography business and career, to the extent that I like to specialize in some of the most challenging styles in photography. For example, I love doing studio work outdoors. I like to do product photography on a table-top, no someone’s actual kitchen table top. If I could shoot everything in outer space, I would. Scratch that, I will – at some undetermined point of time of course.

Knowing all of this when I first shot a retail architectural interior I went with the tried and true method of natural light. Well this did produce some better than ok results, I am not out here for better than ok, for serious. So after the relatively decent results I was able to produce, I swore off natural light forever and shot only with artificial. Then I got a different form of the better than ok results I had received earlier.

It was then when I combined both natural and artificial lighting sources for store interiors, that I really got what I was looking for. That and combining multiple frames in post, having the right equipment, and getting a bunch of experience it paid off. As a budding architectural photographer, I learned 90% of it is really just doing the work again, and again, and again.

 

Here are some examples of store interiors amongst others:

Retail store interior

An office building in Arviat, Nunavut. This took countless shots as the “lowered ceiling” many a crazy shadow to formed. Can you guess how many areas were light with artificial lighting?

Try to keep things looking natural, but a little enhanced at same time.

 

Sure this interior looks delicious, but is a photograph that is extremely difficult to take. Large reflective surfaces (like windows) and lighting just don't mix. This photo is the reason i now have grey hair.

Sure this store interior looks delicious, but is a photograph that is extremely difficult to take. Large reflective surfaces (like windows) and lighting just don’t mix. This photo is the reason I now have grey hair.

 

Here is the same technique now with people added. Why, you say? Because it is an incredibly difficult shot to pull off. I added some colored gels as is the rule of photography with anything technology related.

Here is the same technique now with people added. Why, you say? Because it is an incredibly difficult shot to pull off. I added some colored gels as is the rule of photography with anything technology related.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like what you see, give me follow or share it with you friends!

For examples of store exteriors, which is a whole different thing. You can check out examples of outdoor architecture photography and building exterior photography at their respective links. If you are interested in cityscape of Toronto (multiple buildings), there are some examples urban skylines underlined, respectively. And of course you can see our best store interiors here.

And, if you have any questions, leave them at the bottom.

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