PHOTO: Jonny Carroll

My passion is in creating art in the environment.

That’s why I separated from my family business to become a high-end pool builder. A lot of people build 100-plus pools, and I think there’s a market for that, but I wanted to design fewer pools and be very artistic about it. I wanted to study art history, color theory and architecture rather than focus on volume. My passion is creating art in the environment.

As part of that thinking, I’ve come to believe we also should strive for a high level of artistry in the videos that portray our creations. Still photography says a lot, but video can bring our pools and spas to life. If we look at how many people go to YouTube, we can see that the trend is to market through video. And you can do things now with video marketing that you couldn’t do even five or six years ago, when video would take forever to load and people would get frustrated. Now you click on a video and it’s instant.

So I became motivated to have videos of my projects, and use the power of social media and available technology. I’d already had some experience with video, but it wasn’t great. A project of mine had been filmed and I was really let down with the color grading and how it looked overall. I could see that, with today’s technology, my project, and everyone else’s, could be filmed so much better than they often are. The video could be so much more powerful. And that’s when it kicked in that I could learn to film projects. I already had an interest in photography and had taken some videography courses. That’s what I set out to do.

That motivation has pushed me into beginning a production company dedicated to showcasing the artistry of water elements, landscapes and architecture.

It started two years ago, when I designed and built a project that I knew would be suitable for video. It was basically a backyard waterpark, with spray features integrated into a lazy river and a Bellagio-style choreographed waterfeature. So there was plenty of movement. I wanted to capture that project in a way that still photography couldn’t.

Part of the contract with the client stipulated that I could do a production video of the property. A lot of builders talk about how they have to sign non-disclosure agreements, and we have, too. But the way I approached it with this client was to say that I’m an artist and I have to show other clients what I’m capable of doing. I asked, “As long as we don’t make mention of who you are, would you allow me to do a production video to promote my work?” And they agreed.

While I was designing and building the project, I began to educate myself about cameras. There are numerous cameras on the market that I wanted to play with. I also had time to conceptualize how I wanted the video to look. One of the techniques that interested me involved a steady cam shot, where we weave around the play features so it almost feels as if you’re walking through the environment. You would never be able to replicate that in still photography. I knew I wanted to get aerial shots, where the camera seems to be flying down through the fountains. Those are very dramatic shots using the fluid movement of the camera. I learned those are called jib shots and require a crane.

When the backyard project was done, I assembled a production crew and rented all the equipment we needed. I hired a friend who is a cameraman and was willing to work with me on a professional level, where I would be in control of the production and editing. We shot for 31/2 days straight.

When we were done with the video, I was blown away because you could see how it was a unique project that you’d never be able to show again in real life. I’ve gotten great responses from friends in the industry and it impresses potential clients. The video also has garnered me some very large projects, so it’s paid for itself 10 times over.

Now we shoot all my projects in video, and I also hope to do video work that will elevate the entire industry.

Last year, I traveled around the country visiting several well-known pool builders and capturing their work. My goal was to showcase great pool design, as well as to convey the feeling that water can create. We hired models and chose brightly colored, flowing dresses for them to wear. We also took underwater footage of them serenely entering the water.

I wanted to create video art in that environment. Everyone keeps saying the bar needs to be raised in the industry, and I truly feel that the image of our product can be elevated through beautiful video, and that’s what I’ve set out to do.

I would suggest that builders seriously consider paying a professional to shoot video footage of their best work. It will cost thousands of dollars but, just say, for argument’s sake, that you spend $12,000 on a video and end up landing a $150,000 or even a half-million-dollar pool. That’s what marketing’s all about. It’s a big investment, but if it’s done in the right way and you capture that market, you can get work out of it. And that $12,000 becomes a drop in the bucket.