This year, for many of us, summer truly arrived. It waltzed confidently into the gaping space we’d made for it on our picnic blankets, rested its head on our shoulders and lifted our hearts. A long-lost love, stolen from us by two years of closed pubs and restricted travel. Now, as we fold away beach towels and bring out umbrellas, Brad Walls releases Pools From Above, a luxurious reflection on summer pleasures. 

Walls started his aerial-view photo series with only 20 images, intending it to be a small project, but when he published them, the tranquil depictions gained unexpected traction. The series grew and, in time, a book seemed inevitable. 

Aerial view of swimming pool, from a photography book by Brad Walls
One Lap Only, taken in Malibu, California. From Pools From Above by Brad Walls, Smith Street Books

Walls began a four-year journey in which he photographed around 1,000 pools, refined to around 100 images in the book, in which swathes of blue are punctuated with pink, yellow and red poolside elements; jutting angles and irregular shapes dominate the page; leaves dust a frame’s outskirts and a pool cleaner’s shadow twists, interrupting ripples on a blue floor. 

Walls’ mantra for the book lay in its inclusivity. The images range easily through artistic, architectural and playful. ‘I wanted anyone to pick up the book and feel something,’ he explains. He has ensured, in the variation of shapes and inclusion of a range of sports, paddling and architectural pools, that Pools From Above is a comprehensive artistic project, and takes its place among photography books to covet. It simultaneously offers insight into an exclusive world where a carefully designed backyard oasis is commonplace, while giving the organised lanes of a public pool just as much prestige. 

Aerial view of California swimming pool
Patchwork, taken in Palm Springs. From Pools From Above by Brad Walls, Smith Street Books

The book sits comfortably amid Wall’s other projects; his work is distinctive – perhaps because of the slightly displaced viewpoint that it takes in using drones, or the organic repetition in his photographs. He pinpoints symmetry and leaves it alongside its opposing counterpart, documenting dancers and synchronised swimmers in their element. 

Providing harmony and balance, Walls’ book is a delightful conclusion to summer, and a comforting flick-through that leaves you feeling nostalgic, perhaps inspiring a blissful poolside trip. §

Aerial view of round swimming pool with flamingo
 Swan, taken in Malibu, California. From Pools From Above by Brad Walls, Smith Street Books
Aerial view of red and white tiled swimming pool in Mexico
Retro, taken in Tulum, Quinta Roo, Mexico. From Pools From Above by Brad Walls, Smith Street Books