Jimi Smith is probably one of the most popular photographers on the planet that you never even heard of. That is of course, you happen to be in the pool industry. In which case, his name is immediately associated with stunning photographs of over the top inground swimming pools.
Although Jimi has only been shooting pools for less than 5 years, his reputation has already begun to grow. His eye for detail and ability to stage a pool has led him to all points of the globe. Jimi’s talent as a professional high end photographer of luxury inground pools is now well established.
How Jimi Smith Got Started Photographing Pools
We had the opportunity to discuss pool photography and chat with Smith for over an hour. In the course of our discussion we learned alot of interesting things about this up and coming star in the pool industry. His journey as one of the world’s leading pool photographers began roughly five years ago while he was living in the Virgin Islands.
“At the time, I was working in a scuba shop. I had studied photography in school. Whenever I’d get off work at the dive shop, I’d head down to the local beaches and take photographs on my off hours. Before long, I began selling photos for postcards and got really good at it.” Smith explained.
“I started to build up a name as a photographer and built a website that year. I’d post my photos to social media and was building up quite a big following.” Smith continued. “It was at this point in time, I got a Facebook message from a buddy of mine from high school named Shane Leblanc of Selective Designs who was making quite a name for himself as a traveling design consultant.”
“Shane Leblanc asked me, are you willing to travel to shoot photographs? Next thing I knew, I’m on a flight with my gear. I wound up shooting 4 pools in 3 days. That was it, I was hooked.”JIMI SMITH – luxury Pool photographer
“I had no clue pools like this even existed in peoples backyards. Shane introduced me to that whole world. He had gone through the Genesis program and was doing really incredible jobs. He’s definitely at the top of his game right now.” said Smith.
Word of Mouth Lead to a new Career
As often happens in the pool industry, word began to get around about Smith’s abilities. That year Leblanc entered Smith’s photographs in several design competitions and won numerous awards including the APSP International Award of Excellence – Gold award. Pool Builders were impressed at the caliber of the photos Leblanc had submitted and Shane was more than happy to recommend his friend Smith as the photographer who had so expertly captured his amazing designs.
That was a watershed moment for Smith’s career and that is when it truly began to take off. From that moment on, Smith began to receive requests from all over the country from some of the most cutting edge and well-known builders in the swimming pool industry. It was a far cry from what he had been doing only a few years prior. Smith says he still can’t believe how fortunate he is to be able to do what he truly enjoys doing.
“I fly all over the world now for work. When I’m traveling people often ask me what I do for a living. I just take out my cellphone and show them photos of the pools I’ve photographed. ” said Smith.
Smith is an unassuming and incredibly talented young man. He’s a veritable open book and fountain of knowledge when it comes to photographing pools. Jimi took the time to share a few insider pro tips with our readers to help them make their own photos stand out. He routinely consults with pool builders that want amazing photographs of their work but may not have a pro photographer on staff to shoot their pools.
Advice From Jimi Smith on how to take amazing Pool Photos…
“More often than not, pool builders want to photograph the completed project before it’s truly ready. Ideally, you want to wait until the landscaping is completed, not just the swimming pool.”JIMI SMITH – PROFESSIONAL POOL PHOTOGRAPHER
Smith also suggested until waiting for the right time of year to photograph the pool area. “A large percentage of what makes my photos so appealing is also the house and other outdoor living amenities. Waiting until the landscaping, outdoor kitchen or pergola is completed can really help fill in the negative space and adds a big impact to the photos.” said Smith.
Taking world class Pool Photos is all about timing…
“I’d also advise pool builders not to wait too long until after the backyard is completed before taking photographs. You want the backyard to look pristine, and unlived in for these types of photos.” said Smith who added that he often spends time positioning furniture and setting lighting to properly stage his shots.
He advises to take multiple shots and from different angles of the pool to highlight the features and amenities of the backyard. “Quite often, I see pools photographed, where it looks like the photographer was trying to cram in the entire backyard into a single shot. Your eye doesn’t know what to look at first.”
Smith, who has an incredible eye for detail also has an in-depth knowledge of operating a pool. Quite frequently he performs unassisted out in the field. He’s become quite capable of operating all of the equipment, water and fire features, automation, and lighting in the pool. Smith said that he does this on nearly every job he shoots. He offers a key piece of advice here for anyone trying to photograph a pool at night.
“The golden hour is right before sunset.” said Smith. “It’s during this key timeframe that you’re able to get great shots of all the details of the pool. You can still see the led lighting in the pool if you turn it on. You also get some ambient light from the setting sun which helps to create these dramatic layered looks.”
Since Jimi Smith has seen so many luxury pools over the years, he has developed a critical eye for quality of workmanship as well as design. Smith says he can often spot quality construction when he attempts to level his camera tripod. “Frequently on a high end build, I will hardly have to adjust the level at all on my tripod. The pool area on some of these jobs I’ve photographed is so perfectly level that I barely have to make any adjustments.”
Working with Jimi Smith
One of the major reasons that Jimi gets so much work in the pool industry has to do with his prowess and overall knowledge of how inground swimming pools function and operate. Over the years, Smith has spent considerable time upping his pool IQ. His comfort level in operating all the components and features of even the most sophisticated luxury pools is only matched by his abilities behind the camera. Consequently, he’s become a favorite of major pool builders across the country who have come to rely on his particular skillset.
Seeing as he works with so many builders, we asked Jimi a question he confessed he gets alot… “Who is your favorite pool builder?”
“It’s hard to pick and single out one builder. I’ve shot for so many great designers.” said Smith. “Randy Angell is one designer out of Dallas, TX whose work I really appreciate. He’s a big believer of ‘form follows function’ which appeals to my personal aesthetic.”
We asked Jimi which designer he hasn’t worked with yet but is eager to shoot for. “Kirk Bianchi is one designer I’d love to work with. He’s out of Scottsdale, AZ but has spent alot of time overseas in Japan. His designs are exquisitely unique and have an Asian influence that you don’t find very often in the pool industry.”
It was definitely a privilege to talk photography with Jimi and you can certainly see for yourself why his skills are in such high demand these days. Interested in hiring Jimi to photograph your pools? Check out his website https://www.jimismithphotography.com/ or follow him on Instagram @jimismithphotography.
Photo Credits: Jimi Smith Photography
Pool Designer Credits: Danny Wang, Randy Angell, Ryan Hughes
Pool Scouts Franchise President Michael Wagner Discusses Growth
Pool Scouts, a pool cleaning and maintenance franchise with 101 locations around the country, is riding the post-pandemic wave of pool construction, smashing revenue and franchise sales records in the process.
We had the opportunity to go one on one with Pool Scouts President Michael Wagner recently. During our conversation, we discussed their meteoric growth this year.
“A lot of this is attributed to existing franchisees just having spectacular growth years,” said Wagner. “Amidst challenging labor markets, some of our franchisees have not been able to expand as quickly,” continued Wagner. He indicated that hiring still remains a challenge in some markets but has slowly been improving.
A Look at The Numbers
Reporting big leaps in sales, numbers were up 76.3 percent year-to-date. The pool service franchise had a year-over-year revenue increase of 77.8% in Q3 2021 vs Q3 2020. In the process they have grown considerably, recruiting 20 new franchisees and 42 purchased territories. Most recently, they announced the signing of franchisee Clarence Herry in Annapolis, Maryland. Pool Scouts reached that coveted 100-unit milestone (now 101) as they begin operating in their 15th state on the map.
Defining Pool Scouts Recipe for Success
A big reason why the brand has so successfully resonated with consumers has been its effective digital marketing strategy. Wagner emphasized this has been fundamental in helping them achieve growth.
“Part of our unique special sauce as a franchise is doing a lot to get the phone to ring.”Pool Scouts – President, Michael Wagner
“We provide search engine optimization, websites, digital marketing, and PR which really affords us the opportunity to scale that for all of our franchisees.”
Taking The Guess Work Out of Marketing
Wagner says back-of-the-house operations are the driving engine. The franchise has in-house staff handling marketing for franchisees. A team of graphic designers, videographers, and marketing professionals helps drive lead generation for all of the offices.
Wagner says offering best-in-class marketing at the corporate level leaves his franchisees with more bandwidth to run their business. In a data-driven world, Wagner says using strong analytics tools like Tableau is essential in proving ROI. Consequently, he touts the Pool Scouts system with removing the guesswork from marketing and providing franchise owners better optics.
Increased brand recognition in the market has also what has been essential in propelling growth, states Wagner. “We’re really adept at getting the brand out there in the marketplace for the franchisees. We have a PR agency that we work with to tell our franchisees stories in their local market.”
Building The Right Culture
Above all, Wagner credits the culture and camaraderie of the Pool Scouts organization with being their differentiating factor. Elaborating, he explained how this has helped distinguish them from other pool franchises. “We have varied backgrounds, and we really try to assess the skillset of potential candidates to make sure that they are not only a fit from a business perspective but also from a cultural perspective,” said Wagner.
Expanding Into New Territories
Eager to expand the Pool Scouts footprint, Wagner has his sights on the horizon. While proud of the growth his team has managed to accomplish, he says they will continue to absorb market share. “We’ve added 9 new states to our franchise system this year. We’re going to be opening up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and just opened up in Boise, Idaho. We’re super excited to be in Kansas City and had a great first year in Columbus, Ohio. I see us continuing to expand robustly across multiple states.”
It’s been a big year for Pool Scouts. Due to the thousands of new pools erected during the pandemic, pool sales skyrocketed this year. With limited choices due to lockdowns, families made a concerted effort to reinvest in their backyards. Suddenly, an entire market of new pool owners needs assistance with pool service and maintenance. Wagner finds his organization well-positioned to meet increased demand for these essential services.
The stars may very well align for the type of growth Wagner is anticipating. Consumer interest in swimming pools and outdoor living continues to be white-hot. If 2022 is a repeat of last year, Pool Scouts could be looking at another year of unprecedented growth.
Listen to our entire interview with Pool Scouts – President, Michael Wagner on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Cantilevered Pool an Alpine Dream – Hotel Hubertus Pool
Hotel Hubertus -massive cantilevered Sky Pool is a jewel of the Alps
Today we’re looking at the incredible cantilevered pool located at the Alpin Panorama Hotel Hubertus – a magnificent resort nestled in the Puster valley in the Alps. The picturesque locale is known as a world destination for hiking, skiing, biking and mountain climbing. Located in Valdaora, at the base of the Kronplatz at an altitude of about 4,400 feet, the hotel offers sweeping views of the Dolomites and the Vedrette di Ries Mountains.
At Pool Magazine we look to highlight inspiring projects that are pushing the boundaries of design and engineering. The cantilevered infinity pool at the Hotel Hubertus is one shining example that has been captivating the imagination of people around the globe.
The designers behind this breathtaking luxury pool design is none other than noa* network of architecture. The award-winning firm with offices in Germany and Italy has been drawing mass attention with its glass-bottom floating pool design.
Approximately 82 feet long and 16 feet wide, the pool was designed to look like a floating rock coming to rest and was built from anthracite-colored stone. Its cleverly concealed edges create the visual impression the pool is floating in space.
The architects took on the challenge of designing the pool as part of an overall renovation project. The pool connects the hotel’s new and existing areas, which include 16 enlarged new suites, a new kitchen and restaurant, an alternative entrance lobby, a wine cellar, and a brand new fitness and leisure room with panoramic terraces.
From inside the hotel looking out at the pool area, the water appears to float into space. With a glazed window on the bottom of the pool, swimmers can This sophisticated effect gives one the impression they are floating in an alpine lake suspended somewhere between Heaven and Earth.
The key challenge in the project was to create a link between the existing building and the new design, in order to keep a uniformal and consistent appearance.ANDREAS PROFANTER – *noa – network of architecture
Rising 40 feet from the ground sits the jewel in the crown of the Hubertus, the massive cantilevered pool. Supported by massive native larch tree trunk facades, the aesthetics create a homogeneous appearance following the natural topography of the area.
Suspended pools such as the Hubertus Pools have been capturing the public’s imagination as of late. Photos of this incredible cantilevered pool structure began circulating on social media as far back as 2017. Over five years later, the interest in this uniquely engineered pool still has builders talking.
Alpin Panorama Hotel Hubertus
Address: Via Furcia, 5, 39030 Sorafurcia BZ, Italy
Phone: +39 0474 592104
The Swimming Pool From It’s a Wonderful Life
Recently while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, I noticed the swimming pool scene where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) and Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) are at the school dance. It’s a defining scene where a retractable basketball court opens up to reveal a hidden swimming pool beneath it. As George & Mary are dancing they don’t notice the floor begin to open. The cheering crowds spur them on even further, as they think everyone is cheering their dancing they fail to see they are dancing right over the edge and plunge into the pool.
The Pool Scene from It’s a Wonderful Life
Many of the other people at the dance dive right on in and an impromptu pool party ensues. It’s a touching scene in a must see movie that should be at the top of everyones holiday movie list. Many people believe that the swimming pool wasn’t real. Frank Capra the director of the film had the entire set of the town of Bedford Falls created on an 89 acre back lot at RKO Pictures in Culver City.
The set was actually inspired from the real life town of Seneca Falls in New York. Film buffs suggested that the pool itself was also a prop. As it turns out, according to Snopes.com who did the fact checking for us, the pool has been identified and is real. It’s known as the Swim Gym and is a Beverly Hills landmark. The pool was built by the WPA historical pool contractors in their own right, and designed by Stiles O. Clements in 1939.
Historical Land Mark Swimming Pool Has Been in Many Movies
The retractable pool belongs to Beverly Hills High School and was actually used in the filming of the movie. What’s even more interesting is that the pool is still around today! The pool itself is 25 yards long and is still used in swimming competitions. With the turn of a key the inground swimming pool the retractable pool cover converts back to a basketball court / dance floor.
It’s a wonderful life (east coast feed) about to show the pool under the basketball court that still is there at my high school. #Beverly— Adam Wohl (@adamwohl) December 25, 2012
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