Pool Shots

Stephan Zirwes freezes time with summery photos of swimming pools

Art International
Mineralbad BB_12C1043, Böblingen, Germany (Courtesy Opiom Gallery)
Mineralbad BB_12C1043, Böblingen, Germany (Courtesy Opiom Gallery)

German photographer Stephan Zirwes may be known for his eerie, calming aerial photography, but his recent additions to the Pools series push the art to new heights.

Zirwes is mesmerized by the top views of everyday settings such as golf courses, soccer fields, and swimming pools. With a drone, he captures the silent drama of these places, some occupied by visitors, while some completely void of human activity.

Not all pools are geometrically perfect, and instead align the shape to the pool’s programming. (Courtesy Stephan Zirwes)

The Pools series is a recent selection of photos that focuses on “privatization of public pools,” according to a statement from the World Photography Organization where Zirwes won the Sony World Photography Awards in 2016. Zirwes highlights the importance of water. Clean water, being one of the world’s most needed resources, is wasted in some parts of the world as a tool for excessive entertainment. He believes that the private pool is a cruel commodity that “privatizes a public asset for commercial exploitation.”

Splashes of color enliven pools from above, even if they can’t be seen on the ground. (Courtesy Stephan Zirwes)

The abstracted images, with surroundings edited out, focus our concern on the pools with a playful but graceful approach. In a photo of an irregularly shaped, vacated pool titled sardegna, a sunbrella, pair of sandals, and ripples on the water surface hint at the presence of a swimmer.

yellow slide

A post shared by Stephan Zirwes (@stephanzirwes) on


In another photo titled yellow slide, a slide hovers above the unoccupied pool. The crisp, horizontal strips painted at the bottom of the pool are blurred by the slight ripples. The vertical bricks are seen in perpendicular to the pool’s lines, making up a peaceful composition.

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