As I shoot a lot of interiors and real estate photography I am always dealing with lots of challenging changing locations, conditions, angles and situations. On my last shoot I tried a trick that is often used by seasoned real estate photographers where you place a speedlight attached to a Speedlight Stand (which usuially comes with the flash) on top of an open door so you don’t need a light stand that will take up space as this is often for shooting a bathroom or bedroom where space is very limited to begin with. As you can see this process is precarious at best.
So on this particular shoot I carefully placed my $300 Nikon SB800 with a $150 Pocket Wizard Plus II on top of the bedroom door of Chateau Trails Estate, a $2.3M home.. I took a couple of shots and sure enough… you guessed it, I kicked the door and off falls the light and transceiver. Luckily I was there to catch it just as it hit the carpet and no damage occurred but from that moment on I have been thinking of ways to temporarily attach a flash to the top of a door.
This led me to first posting on the Flickr Photography For Real Estate Forum my quest for an existing idea and then I made my way down to my local Home Depot. After about one hour trying to find parts for what I had in my mind was really a challenge especially dealing with the people at Home Depot.. They were nice enough but unfortunately they seem to have no idea of what they actually carry. So after a total of $22 I ended up with enough bit’s & pieces, nuts and bolts that surely I could make something that would work.
My first project was to do the umbrella modification to my new Sunpak 620-060 camera tripod that I use for speed lights like my new Yongnuo 560II which goes for around $74 at Amazon .. With a 4″ footprint fully extended to 60″ it’s a supper tip and perfect for real estate photography.. I got this idea from the Scott Hargis video “Lighting For Real Estate” and it took about $ .20 and 10 minutes to do and I now have 5 tripods I can set up with Speed lights.. Life is good..
Next was to move on to the speedlight on top of the door challenge.. So I found a perfect piece of metal flashing, screwed in a nut and bolt that I can screw in my speed light foot or an adjustable connector (forget what they are called) and I was off to the races… So here is a before and after shot of my “Over The Door Speed Light Holder”
One thing I need to say is, I will most likely re-do this design as the metal flashing is a little thin and if it were 2x as thick it would support more.. Heck, what do you want for a pre cut piece of flashing that cost a total of $ .65 each. As far as finishing the look and padding the inside, It is simply covered with Gaffers tape to protect home’s doors and, Well.. it’s pretty much ready to go.. Got to love it.. Simple and super cheap..
So next I went on to more traditional clamp modifications. I have 4 Manfrotto Superclamps that would work but I would really be afraid of the clamp damaging anything in a home aside from clamping to hard metal so I found a couple of common pony spring clamps (you all kn0w the ones) with rubber protection and I drilled holes in them and as with the “over the door holder” I simply attached a 1/4″ bolt with a nut on top… then just take the light foot or whatever clamp you plan to attach by simply screwing it into the 1/4″ bolt and there you are… 2 side by side shots.. 2 finished products “in action”.
On top of the door, to the side, pretty much where ever.. I think you get the idea and best of all… a couple of bucks each, just figure out what you need to adapt to your existing hardware.. Easy Peasy, simple as can be.. less than lunch for 2 at Carl’s Jr..
Here is another clamp setup, this time a “Big Boy” for when I get something wider than a standard door. And next to the red clamp is a closeup of how I attached my Manfrotto Quick Release and a small cheap hot shoe attachment, again, all existing hardware I use everyday.
And last but certainly not least, here was an idea I got off the Flickr Photography For Real Estate Forum that is just too simple.. I also got these at Home Depot and I think they were $3 or $4 so they are cheap and actually, aside from needing to put your flash on some kind of base so you have something to wrap the “Tie” around, this is by far the easiest, least involved and quickest way to attach your speed light to a door..
So just take a trip down to your local hardware store and with a little imagination, a few dollars and some common tools and camera hardware you too can outfit yourself for your next shoot.. if anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me as I am always happy to help..