Commercial Photography: Lighting Challenge

This morning, I had a Commercial Photography project where I needed to shoot a few play rooms for one of Bay Area’s finest family entertainment centers:  Super Franks.

I thought it’d be fun to share a lighting challenge I had in one of the rooms and show you how I ended up shooting it.


For Super Franks’ newest room, the Beach Room, it was completely enclosed for the kiddies, but a section of the space was uncovered, so there was sunlight, and the other section was covered with no artificial light and very little ambient light.  Since this is a new room, they hadn’t set up toys and props yet.  Also, in the uncovered section, the sun didn’t shine evenly, so one side was super bright (as you can see in the photo below).  Another kicker:  I had about 10 minutes.

How would you shoot this room?


First, I talked with Mannie, the Marketing Manager, to determine that I didn’t need to get the covered area since nothing was set up there, so I focused on the uncovered, sunny area.

I asked Mannie to bring in an activity toy, which I placed on the blue flooring and turned it, so it would catch the light that bounced off the walls.  Now the image has more dimension and color, and the bus toy establishes the room as a play area.

Next, I wanted to show that the room was outdoors and create the illusion of being by the beach.

I shot from the sunny side of the open area.  I crouched down and shot upwards into the brightest umbrella.  Now the entire frame is filled with the beach scene and you can see the sunlight from above.

Here’s another perspective…

This time, I positioned the umbrella rod in the center of my frame and processed the image with more sunny goodness.  This image makes me feel like I am sitting at an outdoor beach cafe after rollerblading on the strand!

After shooting four rooms, I got a bonus:  I got a peek at Super Franks’ little campers!  (This is their first year offering Summer Camp.)

Super Franks is making some major changes this Summer.  I didn’t even think it was possible to make this place even cooler!

Leave a comment on Facebook!


  1. Jace

    Thanks again for sharing..
    Do you have any lighting strob with you? what about external flash?
    love the composition!

  2. Hi Jace,

    Yes, I had an external flash, but I didn’t use it. Since there weren’t things in that side of the room, I didn’t think that lighting it would make it look its best. What I like to do is imagine the final image before I take it, and I could “see” how to make use of the tables with umbrellas. I think once the other side of the room is styled/decorated, it will look fabulous! Adding extra lighting at that time would enhance it.

    Thanks for posting a comment, Jace!


  3. Clarinda

    Hi Ms. Annie! I really love your photos! i hope you’ll be my photographer someday when a special event happen. 🙂