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.
Photo Credit – Jimi Smith – Pool Designer – Randy Angell
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.
Photo Credit: Jimi Smith – Pool Designer: Danny Wang
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.
Photo Credit: Jimi Smith – Pool Designer: Ryan Hughes
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
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