For his latest project Pools, German photographer Stephan Zirwes studies one of earth’s most precious and vital resources: water. In these aerial shots of swimming pools across southern Germany, Zirwes contemplates our tendency to privatize what is a public asset.
Zirwes casts an eye on the bathers that lounge around the perimeters of the pools; the squares of aqua rippling with the movement of tiny bodies. Seen from a helicopter, the swimmers appear like models in a miniature play set. “The pools and people are real,” explains Zirwes, “I only copied parts of the original pool tiles and enlarged them in a simple, visible way to create a kind of mount in patterns.” The removal of distractions only focuses our attention more fully on the pools themselves. With just a few people to each pool, Zirwes ponders over the wastage of drinking water. Some pools even lay totally vacant, serving merely as an aesthetic feature to an otherwise featureless landscape.
“In most regions of the world,” says Zirwes, “these pools are reserved for private usage and are a massive waste of drinking water. Public pools can still be a symbol for the importance that water should be free and accessible to everyone”.
All images © Stephan Zirwes / Sony World Photography Awards