Dive into the glittering swimming pools of 'Splash'

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The style of the 1962 George Randolph Hearst pool in Palm Springs was influenced by the Neptune Pool at his father’s legendary estate, San Simeon, and even includes statues gifted from San Simeon. Photo by Tim Street-Porter from “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool”

The LA-based architectural photographer Tim Street-Porter has traveled the world for decades and while on assignment would snap pictures of swimming pools. Now he and his wife, the writer and designer Annie Kelly, have published dozens of those sumptuous images in the book “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool.”

Kelly’s essays are full of fascinating factoids about the backyard oases that we’ve come to take for granted. Street Porter’s glittering pool pics simply make you want to dive into them.

“I've had a career traveling, photographing houses and hotels in other countries,” said Street-Porter, “and the book is an accumulation of all these pools I photographed over the last 30 years or so.”

John Lautner’s Harpel House, built in 1956, was recently restored by homeowner and designer Mark Haddawy. Lautner enjoyed creating pools with dramatic views over Los Angeles. Photo by Tim Street-Porter from “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool”

Along the way they learned a lot about pools, from backyard kidney-shaped pools to the infinity pools found at luxury resorts.

“The swimming pool is really a post-war improvement to most people's suburban lots, and particularly in California because of the climate,” Kelly said. 

The addition of pools to San Fernando Valley backyards, for example, “changes your whole notion of home, because suddenly home becomes a place for recreation and… it turned home into a vacation place.”

The Morrison-Strassner circular pool house adds an element of fantasy in Palm Springs, and relates to the circular shapes of the main building. Photo by Tim Street-Porter from “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool”

The couple visited pools from Los Feliz to Mexico to Bali. They toured garden pools from Connecticut to the Hamptons to Sydney, fantasy pools from Indonesia and France, and the classic Hearst Castle pool in San Simeon. 

They also looked at architectural pools, including pools by John Lautner and Frank Gehry. And they visited urban rooftop pools, which have become very trendy. 

“At nighttime with the skyline of L.A. all around you, and you're right up in the midst of all these illuminated skyscrapers, it becomes an extraordinary experience,” Street-Porter said.

Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House is one of Palm Springs’ most iconic residences. The pool is centered in the garden with views of the house. Photo by Tim Street-Porter from “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool”

So did Street-Porter have any favorite pools? He cites David Hockney's pool in the Roosevelt Hotel and also in his own house, “because it's such a clever idea, painting little blue ripples all over the bottom of the pool.”

In fact, “Splash” is an homage to Hockney. The book’s cover shows a swimming pool in Palm Springs and they recruited an “acrobatic friend” to recreate the splash from Hockney’s famed painting “A Bigger Splash.” 

Besides those pools, Street-Porter says, “the pool I'm in at the time is my favorite pool.”

The front cover of “Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool”