Behind the Scenes on a Budget Pool Shoot

Not everyone has access to a pool to do portrait shoots in the water, or maybe there are times when the weather isn't ideal or warm enough to do those types of shoots in an outdoor pool. If you do not have a big enough tub, a kiddie pool could work.

Coming from photographer Brett Seeley, this video takes us behind the scenes on how Seeley was able to capture some portraits of the model on a budget shoot in his garage. After finding a cheap pool, and picking up a black sheet to change the background color, the lighting gear is fairly inexpensive. Yes, that may vary on your budget, but you could use other types of lights with a scrim or a 5-in-1 reflector to try to achieve similar lighting. 

If you aren't looking for the black or dark color water, you can switch out the color of the sheet. A black sheet isn't a requirement and can vary based on your vision. There are a few tips you can pick up throughout this video, one is getting a proper inflating device to air up the pool. Another tip that your models will love is getting something that can warm up the water... or actually use warm water so they are not freezing through the shoot. Unless you are going for a colder ice water look, then the cold water will help your model play achieve that look better.

What else did you learn from this budget pool shoot? Are there any other tips to share from your experience? Leave your answers in the comments below. 

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Scott Hussey's picture

I've said it before... I'll say it again... Photos might be beautiful, but Photography can be ugly.

Mike Ledford's picture

Pro tip: A shop vac in reverse will blow up that pool in seconds.

David Love's picture

And here's the last part of the easy to use kid pool.

Greg Desiatov's picture

I do the very same technique in my studio except I use a huge 6m x 3m black backdrop that runs across the pool and up one end to a stand.

I use an air compressor that fills the large pool with air in about 15min and a submersible pump to empty the pool

John Keane's picture

Be Extremely careful with electricity around water. Not only in the pool but the splashes and small puddles of water caused by getting in and out of the pool.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

Yup. Always elevate connections and attach them to the lightstands at least a foot above the ground.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Why on earth would he not use warm water? Model comfort = priority #1. It's not like access to warm water was that inaccessible in a garage...

Mike Ditz's picture

What is a colder ice water "look"

Dale Karnegie's picture

1. Photographer makes the model wait half naked while he pumps up pool
2. Photographer uses ice cold water instead of warm water which isn't comfortable for the model at all
3. Photographer calls her a whiner for pointing out #2
4. Photographer starts out youtube video by introducing the "amazing phil" and then forgetting his model's name
5. Photographer has tons of electronic gear hand held next to a pool of water

I mean, cool technique and all -- but you seem about as professional as your set up (which is to say not professional at all)

edit to add, if you want to see how a professional treats their models -- watch any behind the scenes with Joe McNally. He ensures they are comfortable the whole time, ensures they are not too cold or too hot, and thanks them genuinely after the shoot is over.

Meanwhile this dude (clearly afraid of being labeled a creeper and overcompensating) tells the model, "your hair all nasty!"

too much cringe for one video