Three years ago, Jimi Smith, one of the most well-known pool photographers in the industry, had never even seen an infinity-edge pool.
Three years ago, Smith was living on St. Thomas and working in commercial diving for Miami Diver, Inc., when a friend called him up for his first pool photography job. Smith knew his way around a camera—he graduated from the University of Georgia’s fine art photography program in 2005.
Smith had also gotten degrees in music, physics, and engineering, and his interest in photography blossomed when his mom bought a Minolta camera and left it up to her engineer son to get the camera up and running.
Now, Smith stays booked and busy year-round, with industry elites like Ryan Hughes and Shane LeBlanc calling on him to make their stunning poolscapes look even better. Smith’s unique process for shooting pools, involving multiple exposures and artificial lighting, sets his work apart. You know when a photograph doesn’t do justice to a grand landscape? His do. In fact, his work has appeared on four Luxury Pools + Outdoor Living covers since he started photographing pools, including the current issue.
“The uniqueness of what I do is I take all those images and I layer them together,” says Smith. This allows his shots to have both a reflection off the pool’s surface and a blurred water feature, a brightly lit nighttime pool scene and a sharp fire feature. He might layer thirty shots together for just one photograph. “I kind of came up with my own way to shoot pools that nobody really takes the time to do,” he says.
He shoots for luxury designers and volume builders alike, considering no job too big or too small. “Since I started I’ve doubled business and revenue every year,” says Smith, “and this year’s by far been the busiest year I’ve ever had.” Despite the state of the economy at large, the pool industry is booming.
Recently, Smith helped co-found a nonprofit called Mule Men—“the slogan is ‘you load the wagon, we do the rest,’” he says. Mule Men takes goods or money from point A to point B, helping to facilitate donations from folks who have the means to give but aren’t sure where to start. One of his recent projects helped a storm-ravaged community on Dominica in the Caribbean. Instead of gathering supplies to ship to the island, he ran a GoFundMe, exchanged the funds for local currency, and bought the supplies on the island, further helping the local economy.