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What Are Tips And Tricks For Shooting Pools?

Published: 30/09/2016

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poolTim in Palm Springs wants to know:

I am looking for tips and tricks to shooting swimming pools (both at dusk with lights on and during the day for pools with no lights).  I searched the PFRE site but couldn't seem to find anything.

I'm going to depend on readers from the tropics to help with this question. Here in the Northwest we barely know what a swimming pool is.

From looking at others shots of pools two things come to mind:

  1. All too frequently I see pools that aren't well cleaned (have leaves floating in them, etc.). As a photographer, this usually comes down to the issue of getting your agent client to make sure the homeowner has the property ready to shoot. As a photographer, it becomes a communication issue with your clients. Although sometimes you can use Photoshop to fix the image in post.
  2. Since pools are such a property asset, that should be a big consideration in composition decisions.

I'm sure readers in Florida, California, Hawaii, Brisbane and the South of France can come up with much better tips and tricks for Tim?

Larry Lohrman

6 comments on “What Are Tips And Tricks For Shooting Pools?”

  1. Unfortunately this forum does not have the option to upload images to give as examples (If Larry allows, I will send a couple), but my experience is that during the day, elevated photos showing the pool and hardscape tend to be the most popular with the agents. Shooting at eye level rarely gives the best view of the pool environment. A couple of close ups of the waterfalls are also popular.

    Dusk shots done with the sunset in the background can be spectacular but the logistics involved make that a rare possibility (your pool has to be in line with the sunset, the surrounding vegetation need to be clear, trees, bushes etc.) and the best photos I’ve done where all Infinity pools where the pools flow off to the sunset.

    Night shots of pools are the most common and can be easily created by bracketing a few images that gives a natural look to the surroundings.

    As Larry indicated, the environment that you are shooting should be ready to go (no pool clutter, toys, pool skimmers, etc.) I encourage the agents to convey with their clients that the outdoor lighting be checked for working condition and all the home interior lights are on for the background impact. Most of the time the homeowner is clueless as to the condition of the lighting until it is too late. I am in an area where believe it or not, the hardscape, landscaping, pool, outdoor kitchens, casita’s can run into the millions, so as Larry indicated, there is a major property asset when looking at the impact to the home’s ambiance.

  2. Here in the northeast (Boston) we call them ice skating joke.. 🙂

    +1 with Jerry. Elevated or Drone photos is what do. From the deck too.

    For ground shot photos, I find a corner of the pool deck with the back of the house in the background and photograph hip level or slightly lower. If the pool has a diving rock or board, I try and grab this in the forground corner of the photo. If lounge chairs are there as well as a small drink table, I stage the chairs too and create a "V" pattern with the drink table in between the two chairs with a beach towel or even drinks displayed on the table. Sunscreen too if the owners have any. I then photograph from behind the chairs and again, at hip level or lower. House in the background too. If not too windy, I bracket and grab three or four photos at different exposure levels for additional detail. I say windy because the slightest wind and bracketing will reveal blurred leaves and such.

  3. Leaves, debris, and cleaning equipment is easy to clone out by moving some water around - the less the better of course. Likewise, community pools, if can't photo when no resident is using, try to compose when they are out in the water and away from the sides. Cloned water has the same reflective texture, so move some water over them and drown them. 🙂 It is far easier than trying to match/continue tile and deck patterns as you remove people. Most pools in FL are not open but have screening so you are not eaten alive by mosquitos on an evening dip, and has the secondary advantage on no debris in the pool - but lining the screen roof. The biggest problem here is sun glare hotspots through the screen. The larger problem is yellow mustard algae. While water can be blued in photoshop overcoming the algae, is better if just shot after the pool guy serviced the pool. Another trick that requires some planning is for the owner to hyper-chlorinate with a $2 bag of shock the evening before or earlier that AM for nice blue water when you shoot. Finally, the legally required child screen should be taken down, hopefully before you arrive as it will also impact some interior pool view shots.

  4. For twilight shots, I ask the homeowner or agent to turn off the lights inside of the pool to get a better reflection of the house and/or surrounding landscaping.

  5. I shot a house with a pool this morning. I initially chose that hour because of the light on the back of the house. I knew I could like the front. But when I took the first series of shots of the pool, the sky was almost completely overcast. Just before leaving, the sky was completely clear and the sun was shining brightly (this is Texas) providing that sparkle to the pool. I, of course, took a second series of photos around the pool. I'll process them this evening, and expect to use the sparkling pool shots over the flat light.

  6. I've found that if I stir up the water really good before I take the shot with the leaf skimmer or pool brush the pool shimmers really nice... the upside to that is it masks debris pretty good and it looks cool...

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