Abstract Experimentally determined angular flux spectra for 6.13 MeV source photons from disc geometry penetrating shielding slabs of lead, steel and concrete are analysed. For all three shield materials, the proportion of photons scattered in a forward direction increases with increasing penetration thickness. At any given polar angle, the scattered photon properties decrease exponentially with increasing shield thickness. Angular exposure dose build-up factor is defined and angular contributions to the scalar build-up factor are presented. Changes in the distribution of photon energies relating to shield penetration thickness and polar angle are discussed. The influence of bremsstrahlung and positron annihilation photon sources are considered.