PHOTOGRAPHY TIP 66: THE HALF HOUR WINDOW FOR SHOOTING RESORT POOLS

The swimming pool of a resort or a hotel tends to be its feature so you need to be looking to capture it in optimum conditions (I’m in the Solomon Islands where my attention has been drawn to the subject over the past few days).

As a photographer, my first priority is to capture the pool the minute I see it under a clear sky as I know – particularly in the South Pacific – it may never look like that again while I’m there (and, I can assure you, the weather gods never tire of showing what I can shoot, then stealing it). The shot may not be great but at least I have something “in the can”; as a resort shoot without a pool shot is never likely to cut the mustard…..(what does that actually mean??!!).

Then I look to improve on the shot by studying the pool and identifying its features, working out its most appealing angles, anticipating where any shadows might fall, considering wind and sun intensity to determine the best time of day, and isolating unsightly elements that might steal from the photograph (i.e those that can’t be photoshopped out). There’s also the hotel guest traffic to consider, the water clarity and, of course, the maintenance guy who’s always there doing his thing the moment you’re about to press the button.

All that worked out, my attention shifts to dressing the shot and conceiving an idea that will strengthen the photo (this recognises I’m not working with a creative director, a talent agency, a makeup artist or an assistant – oh the luxury).

An appealing body to drop into the picture is always a good start – ideally a couple. And their swimming costume needs to look the part. There’s props to be sourced (in this case, the last $15 air bed in the local shop and a watermelon), staff need to be corralled, a ladder might be handy and there’s the ubiquitous cocktail that needs to be constantly refreshed when the ice melts if you’re planning to do close-ups.

And all this needs to come together in what, invariably, comes down to just a single, half-hour slot when, hopefully, the cosmos aligns to deliver you the shot you deserve.

….. (Thankfully, on this occasion, it got pretty close).

Just half an hour was all we had before the wind picked up, the guests came in and the shadows crossed the pool.

Just half an hour was all we had before the wind picked up, the guests came in and the shadows crossed the pool.

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