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Real estate photography spotlight – Seattle’s Cleary O’Farrell

In a down economy, agents are looking for the most bang for the buck with getting their listings moved and it is common knowledge that outside of properly pricing a home, quality photography is among the best marketing tactics.

We all get bogged down in worrying if a listing is seen on Twitter or if someone on Facebook shared it, but that matters not if the pictures look like they were taken with your 1999 flip phone at night. To make a good impression, hiring a professional photographer is a service that I personally believe is part of what a broker’s split should cover, but since that’s not common, agents should consider making a small investment in getting their client’s largest asset sold in a timely manner.

So, in our quest to spotlight real estate photography talent, we came across Cleary O’Farrell’s Seattle photography site which included a real estate portfolio. We looked at over 20 real estate photographers’ sites before we landed on one that was worth sharing with you and after I accidentally spent an hour getting completely lost (in a good way), making sure I saw every photo on the site (and getting jealous that Cleary isn’t in Austin). Cleary does some amazing processing and offers touch up (adding a sky, etc) which is impressively executed.

Cleary O’Farrell’s work:

This is a sampling of a few images from the site and even if just for fun, I encourage you to go peek at all of the portfolio offered (especially the “architecture” section, it’s really sexy).

Check out Cleary’s blog or the Facebook page. We celebrate quality real estate photographers and encourage you to share your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Karen Goodman

    October 14, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I use a professional photographer on all of my listings. Yesterday I met her at two of my listings…one that is only $89,900 and one that is $824,900. She did an amazing job on both. And even more amazingly, she only charges $55 for homes up to $400,000. At those kind of prices, there is no excuse for not showcasing every listing in the best possible light!

  2. Paula Henry

    October 14, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Now – I am jealous she is not in Indianapolis. I am pretty good with a camera, but have recently decided my clients deserve professional photography. I can’t tell you the amount of requests I receive for more pictures. I know from experience with online buyers, they are looking for pictures which gives them their first exposure to a home. It’s up to me as a listing agent to make sure my clients home makes an indelible first impression.


    October 14, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Anyone with a high end camera, wide angle lens, and powered flash can take photos like the ones displayed above. Don’t need to hire someone for that! Unless of course you are such a busy agent you have no time to snap a dozen photos :-)~

    • Paula Henry

      October 14, 2010 at 6:40 am

      Fred – I probably could, but it takes me twice as long to take and edit, which is why I am going with professional photography. I’m actually better with exterior than interior shots.

    • Carson Coots

      October 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      You are right about that, anybody can do it…

      But it isn’t easy to get the results above, even if you own the equipment you mentioned (not to mention lightroom and photoshop). It looks like multiple exposures were used in a few of these. You would still be dealing with uneven light, harsh shadows, color temperature conflicts, distortion, and a host of other issues.

      It’s a little more complicated than buying the equipment and snapping a dozen photos.

      • Cleary O'Farrell

        October 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm

        Well put. The results above did take a lot of time and planning.
        That is our job as photographers – to make the shot look effortless!

  4. Kelly Grothe

    October 14, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I always encourage everyone to get professional photos!! I’m going to share this post with everyone in my office

  5. Gecko1967

    October 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    The term “professional” photography should mean something more than just an agent using an expensive camera and a Zeiss wide-angle lens. I completely agree that the use of a true architectural photographer can make a world of difference; especially when so many buyers are driving the Internet (to look at photos) before they drive the neighborhood. I always suggest that potential sellers visit my website to get a first-hand look at the quality of photos that they will be receiving as part of my listing services.

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