Swimming Pool

Public swimming pools--when they contain the public--aren’t anyone’s idea of peace and quiet.

Swimming Pool

But emptied of human chaos, in the hands of photographer Franck Bohbot, they’re turned into serene respites from the urban cacophony just outside their walls.

Swimming Pool

In "Swimming Pool," Bohbot, who is based in Brooklyn but was raised in Paris, explores the colorful and quasi-palatial indoor swimming pools of his home city.

Swimming Pool

He frames them with cinematic flair, shooting them head-on, in one-point perspective from an elevated position.

Swimming Pool

The colors are slightly dulled and everything is perfectly still. Oh yeah, and the places are (nearly to the person) devoid of people.

Swimming Pool

By removing pesky realities, like oh, loud and splashing humans, Bohbot captures the architecture objectively.

Swimming Pool

In doing so, his lens reduces the spaces--complex architecture meeting uninterrupted expanses of pool--into colors, patterns, impressions, and reflections.

Swimming Pool

Bohbot considers his approach to the closer to cinema "than to cold architecture photography."

Swimming Pool

If you like spotting Waldo, look for the occasional signs of life in these photos. Bohbot says there are a few wandering bodies that made in the cut.


Photog Captures The Ghostly Architecture Of Paris's Swimming Pools

Everyone out of the pool! Photographer Franck Bohbot documents the architecture of empty public pools to cinematic effect.

Public swimming pools are not typically places of solace. There’s a built-in visual and aural cacophony—gleefully shrieking, cannonballing children, chatting teenagers, parents trying to be there and not be there at the same time. It’s not unpleasant; it just doesn’t exactly engender meditative contemplation.

For a sense of poolside peace though, just stare into the images featured in French-born, Brooklyn-based photographer Franck Bohbot’s "Swimming Pool" series.

The photographic essay explores the cavernous public indoor pools of Paris, Bohbot’s native city. They’re emptied of the human chaos, and what’s striking is that when you see these spaces without people (no p in the pool?), the soaring, vaulted architecture becomes the visual draw. The rectilinear outlines and standardized dimensions of the pools highlight the rich variety of concrete and glass structures that house them, an effect which Bohbot exploits to the fullest.

Each space is shot in one perspective, with Bohbot’s steady frame presenting the eclectic architectural features and the uninterrupted cerulean sheen of the pool surface as a litany of patterns, rhythms, and textures. Bohbot tells Co.Design his approach is "cinema, more than cold architecture photography," for its precise direction and composition. "The symmetry, the place, the colors have to look like exactly how I planned before the shooting," he says. "I like to work like a cinematographer and like a colorist."

The decision to depict the pools "empty of human presence" was, Bohbot says, to give the images a more timeless character. He cites as an influence the Düsseldorf School, which advances a "typological" approach to photography. Developed by practitioners like Bernd and Hilla Becher, the objective, detached method tends toward mundane structures and environments as subject material. Bohbot cast an almost clinical gaze toward his swimming pools, subjecting them to a soft, quite sympathetic light, while also refusing to amplify their individual properties.

Even so, Bohbot says he likes to "let some air" into his photos, meaning that he isn’t averse to keeping mistakes or miscalculations (or human interlopers) that arise in the course of shooting. Look closely at the series, and you’ll see what he’s talking about. Here and there, a sole body appears in the disquieting emptiness. A maintenance worker buffs the tiled floor in one image, while in another, a swimmer heads to the locker room. They’re difficult to spot, but they’re there, the minimal human punctuations adding poignant contrast to the otherwise wide-open spaces.

"I can’t avoid the power of the moment showing one little girl lonely in the pool, or one lifeguard on the sides, or of the other few people [whose presence] compromise the photography," the photographer explains. In the end, it’s not the perfect image that interests him, but "the relationship between the water, the architecture and the individual."

Take the plunge in the slideshow up top.

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  • Nik James

    All i can think of is the cinematography in "The Shining" when looking at these photos. Very eerie.