An ultra-high-dive perspective into pools

Pool time this summer has looked very different than summers past. As outdoor activities are deemed safer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is mostly outdoor pools that have been open, some limiting how many can swim at a time and how long they can swim to ensure safe distancing. Those lucky enough to enjoy their own backyard pools have boosted pool supply sales to profitable levels, according to Bloomberg News.

A native Australian, Brad Walls has photographed pools from a unique perspective. He started like most of us would, on vacation, taking pictures of family, and had been taking photos from drones for about a year when he saw Annie Kelly’s book “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool.”

“As I turned each page of Kelly’s book, a wave of childhood nostalgia washed over me, spending hours in the pool over summer,” Walls told In Sight. “I fell in love with the lines, curves and negative space of the pools, which — without alternate perspective from a drone — would have been lost.”

Seeing Kelly’s book inspired him to begin his series “Pools from Above,” which focused on the composition of swimming pools from the air. Walls uses Google Earth, travel websites and magazines, and sometimes even Pinterest to research the pools he might photograph, looking for beauty in the shapes, colors and textures. Shadows and light play a large role in his compositions, and he applies design principles by paying close attention to negative space, lines and symmetry to bring out the pools’ best features.

Walls said he was compelled to include people in his photographs. “I thought aerial photography to this day turned a blind eye to the most beautiful element of our world, that being us,” he said. “The aerial photography scene was heavily landscape-based. I wanted to change it up.”

He also photographs aerial portraits of athletes including synchronized swimmers, gymnasts and ice skaters — perspectives audiences wouldn’t otherwise see.

When the world opens up again, Walls plans to photograph more world-renowned swimming pools in many idyllic locations, including Palm Springs, Calif.; Mexico; and the Mediterranean, to be published in a book. You can see more of Walls’s work at his website and on Instagram.

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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