John Guild - Photography | Blog



This blog focuses on the creations of Joe DiPaulo, Stone Mason of Spring.  I've had the opportunity to photograph Joe's pool, spa and landscape installations since 2008.  Every year, with every photo shoot I do, just when I think that Joe has reached his creative pinnacle, he pulls off another even more spectacular pool/spa/landscape creation - from fire towers that surround a gorgeous pool to lagoons with cave entrances to underwater fiber optic lighting that cycle through a rainbow pallet of colors.  Joe is a true artist who visualized in terms of water, fire and rock.  And, he has the skills sets and the team of artisans to build out his visions.


- John Guild

Joe DiPaulo Pools & Spas: Using Color as a Design Element (part 2)

Part 1 of this two part blog post outlined Joe DiPaulo's use of translucent glass blocks as one source of color for pools and spas.  As sunlight passes through the glass blocks, color is spread across the pool creating an effect that can range from subtle to wild.   (Part 1 of this post showed four examples of this color effect.)  After the sun sets this source disappears but other sources of color can be used at night such as lighting, fire pits and fire towers.   The integration of lighting and fire within a pool or spa can add a vivid, dramatic effect to the installation after dark.  Several examples of Joe's use of lighting and fire are shown below.



Lighting Example#1

The example shown below combines underwater lighting with the flame of a fire pit.  Red and violet underwater lighting is placed around the waterfalls while blue underwater lighting is used in the pool area.  The lights mix to create a purple transitional color.   The flame of the fire pit tosses both light and shadows across the pool area.   Imagine yourself floating in a pool at night awash with these vibrant colors. 

Night LightsNight Lights

Lighting Example #2

Joe is a master at designing and building water caves.  These caves often act as entry points into the pool.  When you install underwater lighting in a water cave the results can be very impressive indeed.  An example of this is shown below.  This is a water cave entrance into a pool; the cave is lit with violet underwater lighting.  Imagine stepping through this cave at night as you make your way to the pool.  (As always, Joe uses only real rocks in his installations, nothing artificial.)

Lagoon Entrance - NightLagoon Entrance - Night

See this pool at this link Mike & Angie's place


Lighting Example #3

Lighting can be set up to cycle through various colors.  In the example shown below Joe has trimmed out the sides of a pool with lighting that cycles through a pallet of colors.  Shown below are the colors violet, blue and green but this lighting system also cycles through yellow, orange, red and white.

Night LightsNight Lights

The photo below is the same pool as above showing it during day trimmed with blue lighting. (Notice the fire pit.)


Lighting Example #4

Using cyclic underwater lighting to illuminate an entire pool can create vivid effects as shown in the image below.  These are 2 photos of the same pool cycling through the colors blue (top photo) and green (bottom photo).  Although not shown in this photo, the colors continue to change: yellow, violet, red and white.  (If you look closely you will see a fire tower on the left side of the pool.)

Again, the same pool with a focus on the waterfalls which cycle through the same color scheme as above.

Night FallsNight Falls

See this pool at this link Dave's Place



Joe's use of fire adds another element of color.  Fire can cast a dramatic mix of light and shadow across the pool at night.  Several examples of poolside fire pits and towers are shown below.

Fire Example #1

The photo below of a fire pit shows light being cast across the stone pillars that support the canopy as well as the seating area and stone decking. If you look closely you will see the pool in front of this fire pit.  The fire is bright enough to illuminate the pool area.  The ever changing flame tosses light and shadows throughout the pool area producing an enriching setting.


See this pool at this link Dave's Place


Fire Example #2

This example shows a fire pit in the middle of two fire towers.  The pool (not shown) is positioned adjacent to this fire installation.  The fire from this pit and the two towers produces a significant amount of light which allows coverage of the pool area.

See this pool at this link  Chris & Gary's Place


Fire Example #3

In this example below Joe has placed several fire towers and a fire pit within the garden spa.   Imagine the effect at night from these fires; casting a glow and radiance across the garden spa; light and shadows waxing and waning as the flames ever-change.

Backyard VistaBackyard Vista

See this Garden Spa at this link Kevin & Leah's Place


Combining Glass Blocks + Lighting + Fire

In the spa below Joe has combined translucent colored glass blocks (incorporated in the spa dome) with fire from the pit and light positioned at the base of the spa.  The spa base light is shown as blue but in actual fact it set to cycled through the colors blue, green, yellow, red, violet and white.  Not shown is underwater lighting within the spa.  During the day you have the color effects from sunlight passing through the glass blocks.  At night you have the color effects from the fire pit and the lighting.     Wild!!

Rainbow Spa - Blue Trim LightsRainbow Spa - Blue Trim Lights

The same spa as above with the spa base lighting cycled to violet.

Rainbow Spa - Violet Trim LightsRainbow Spa - Violet Trim Lights


A well designed pool or spa uses color as a key design element to enhance the users experience.   As outlined in parts 1 and 2 of this blog post, the source of color can come from sunlight through translucent glass blocks, fire or lighting.  The combination of all three of these color sources can create a dramatic backyard pool environment.


-John Guild

Joe DiPaulo Pools & Spas: Using Color as a Design Element (part 1)

The use of color is a key element in Joe DiPaulo's designer pools and spas.  There are several sources for this color; the obvious ones are:  the color of the natural rocks that he uses, the tile and coping, his surrounding landscaping, the grout, the pool's plaster surface and finish, his use of fire and the installation of underwater fiber optic lighting.  But; there is another source of color which is one of my favorites - colored translucence glass blocks.  The color effects from these translucent blocks can vary with intensity, ranging between 'subtle' and 'wild', as the sun makes it's daily arc from sunrise to sunset. 

These blocks can also be positioned to reflect color off the water, which can create some stunning visual effects.

Lets look at some examples where Joe has been effective in using translucent blocks to create color.  We will start with 'subtle' and end with 'wild'.


Example #1:

The first example below shows a set of 16 translucent blocks (10 are visible in the photo) embedded into a stone bench; the bench was adjacent to a spa. 

The morning that I captured this photo we had just entered the homeowner's backyard with our camera equipment.  It was 8 am and the sun was coming up over the horizon.  As I looked towards this stone bench, I noticed that the sunlight passing through these blocks was creating a multicolored cast across the spa's stone deck.  The effect was elusive.    As the sun continued to rise, the colors lasted only a few minutes but long enough for me to appreciate beauty of this effect.   Elusive discoveries can be precious!


Casting ColorsCasting Colors


Example #2:

This is a spa with a dome of inlaid translucent blocks.  The three photos shown below: a) a view of the spa looking up at the dome, b) looking straight up at the dome with its inlaid translucent blocks, and c) the spa with the dome photographed from across the pool.  As shown in the first photo, the sunlight passing through the blocks creates a reflection of color on the water surface.


Rainbow Spa With BarbaraRainbow Spa With Barbara


Rainbow Spa TopRainbow Spa Top




Example #3: 

Now are are approaching 'wild' :)

As shown in the photos below, Joe has created a spa dome almost entirely made of his translucent colored blocks.  As sunlight passes through the blocks, colors are being reflected off the water and refracted off the spa surface below the water.  In the first photo, as Barbara (the model) makes small movements, the water stirs causing the reflective colors to modulate across the water surface.  The second photo is this same spa only shown from above.  Sunlight is passing through the blocks causing color to simultaneously reflect off the water and refract off the spa surface below the water.  The effect is unusual and very creative to say the least!


Backyard Spa, Rainbow SpaBackyard Spa, Rainbow SpaSpas - Luxury Spas, Garden Spas, Custom Spas, - Backyard Spas, Rainbow Spa



Example #4:

Wild :))

This is the same spa as shown in example #3 but with me inside the spa, with my camera and ultra wide angle lens just above the water surface.  Barbara's is sitting to the left of me, shown only by her reflection to the right off the dome wall.  Admittedly, the wide angle lens tends to distort the image.  But ... this photo was not particularly hard to capture which speaks to what you might experience while sitting in this spa under this dome of colored translucent blocks - a rainbow environment of reflective/refractive color -- perhaps with your favorite glass of red wine :) 


Rainbow SpaRainbow Spa


Example #5

Below is a composite image of what it might look like to combine several of Joe's translucent block effects into a single spa or pool    This would be really wild!  Ha!

Rainbow SpaRainbow Spa



When I find the time I'll produce 'Part 2' with a focus on creating color using underwater fiber optic lighting.


-John Guild

Joe DiPaulo Water Caves

One of the things that Joe does very well is incorporate caves into his installations.  Naturally, only real rock is used.  These caves generally provide openings into the pool, lagoon or spa area.  Several of my favorites are shown in the photos below.


Massive Water Caves:

Below is a massive cave connecting the pool to the lagoon.  For this installation there was actually two of these caves side-by-side.  If you look closely at the photo immediate below this one you will see these two caves (look at the left side of the photo).

Water CaveWater Cave

Luxury Pool - View From Spa FallsLuxury Pool - View From Spa Falls


Another massive water cave. Not shown in this photo is the water fall spilling over the cave entrance. With the water fall providing a curtain, the area within the cave becomes an enchanted place of seclusion.

Water Cave, GrottoWater Cave, Grotto


Swim-Through Caves:

Another type of cave that Joe builds is a swim-through cave that connects the pool to the water slide, such as the one below:

Water Cave, GrottoWater Cave, GrottoSteve & Dana Neal Spa, Spring Cypress



Rock Selection for Caves:

The rocks used to construct the cave can be very large.  Looking at the entrance to the pool cave in the photo below, the 'curve' rock is several tons and 10 foot high.  Joe has a good eye for selecting the rocks to be used for his caves; this curved entrance rock was a good pick; it makes for a very dramatic entry into the cave.

Entrance to Water Cave, GrottoEntrance to Water Cave, Grotto


Bridging Caves:

Joe's water caves are not always massive, they can be small but artfully placed to bridge pool features.  An example of a 'bridging' cave is the one shown below. This one bridges a garden spa on the left to a lagoon on the right.  On both sides of this bridging cave are water falls.  By the way, that is Barbara in the middle while I'm holding my camera in front of Barbara desperately trying to keep it dry as I take the shot :)

Water Cave, GrottoWater Cave, Grotto


Caves with Internal Pathways:

Joe's caves can have several internal path ways. The cave below shows a path to a lagoon (off to the left) and a path to the backyard (off to the right):  In the photo immediately below this photo you will see this cave (look to the right) shown as an intregal part of the pool installation.

Lagoon EntranceLagoon Entrance

Luxury Pool - View From BarLuxury Pool - View From Bar


Water Cave - Recreation & Relaxation:

Water caves can be a source of fun and relaxation as shown by the two photos below:


Water Cave, Grott0Water Cave, Grott0


Water Caves at Night:

During the evening, a water cave entrance to a pool or lagoon can be a very dramatic when combined with underwater fiber optic lighting as shown in the photo below:

Lagoon Entrance - NightLagoon Entrance - Night


Cave Entries:

The entrance to the water cave can be trimmed out with custom stone steps as shown in the photo below:

Lagoon Cave EntranceLagoon Cave Entrance



The caves that Joe DiPaulo, Stone Mason of Spring, design and build are really works of landscape art existing as subset of the larger pool design.  I've never seen anything quite like these caves, it has been a pleasure to photograph them.


-John Guild



Water is for the Living

It's amazing how connected the human race is to water; nothing living could exist without it.  It's joy, a necessity, a wonder, a resource, a source of life.  Below are selected shots I've taken since 2008 having a common theme of people and water.   Looking at these photos, and the many others I've taken, the life affirming value of water is clear to me.

Water is for the LivingWater is for the Living

Water is for the LivingWater is for the Living

End of the Year Favorites

Looking back on 2013 there were many impressive Joe DiPaulo installations.  In particular, two come to mind.  The first was a massive installation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  This installation was built to compliment a large home set on acreage adjacent to a lake.  Several photos of this installation, and a link to more photos, are shown below.  The installation was feature rich; it included a large pool, a lagoon, two caves connecting the pool to the lagoon, numerous water falls, various entry points through a system of caves, a garden spa, extensive custom stone work surrounding the installation and plenty of underwater fiber optic lighting that cycled through various colors.  This work by Joe was amazing.  I spent several days photographing it.

Mike & Angie's Place

Luxury Pool - View From BarLuxury Pool - View From Bar

Luxury Pool - View From Spa FallsLuxury Pool - View From Spa Falls

Lagoon Cave EntranceLagoon Cave Entrance


My second favorite by Joe was a pool & spa north west of Houston.   The installation was nicely integrated to the home and included a pool, spa, falls, a fire tower and fiber optic underwater lighting that cycled through colors of blue, green, yellow, red and violet.  One of the standou features was a very dramatic fire pit. Three photos of this installation, and a link to more photos, are shown below.

Dave's Place

Inside OutInside Out


Kids and Water

After more than 6 decades I've long ago lost my youth.  It’s just part of 'the deal' which I accept.  But I have not lost my mind (thank God), my health or my youthful spirit.  I often find that my spirit is nourished by those around me, especially the kids; my own son and daughter and now my first granddaughter.  I also get much enjoyment during pool and spa shoots when the children are involved.  There is something about kids and water that just seems so natural and fun. 


Hans and Jennifer's

Jump Rock




At Play



Paul and Jane's

Luxury spas and pools in the south Texas area built by Joe DiPaulo, Stone Mason of Spring.

Copper Pot, Spa, Cave, Water Falls


John's Granddaughter


Three Recent Pool/Spa Shoots

Summer is here and with it comes luxury pool and spa photo shoots.  I've completed three in the last 10 days.  


Shane's Place:

The first photo is a Stone Mason spa installed a year ago.  In conjunction with this spa, a patio enclosure was built with plants and vines meant to grow and provide cover.  Obviously, there were no vines a year ago when the spa was first installed.  Shooting this installation last week the story was considerably different, the patio was covered with vines.  The effect was very cool.

Here is the link


Garden Spa


Trinity Pines

Joe really knows how to build a waterfall.  Done with natural rock, it's very natural.  Here is a waterfall built by Stone Mason at Trinity Pines.  Trinity Pines is a resort in central Texas.

Here is the link:


Garden Stream



Cordie's Place

This is an example of how you can work color into a spa/pool setting using with color tiles (1st photo) and fiber optic lighting (2 photo).  These two images are of the same luxury pool and spa: Cordie's pool and spa, built by Stone Mason.

Here's the link:


Casting Colors

After Dark






Summer Time


Just when I think that Joe has reached his creative peak, he pulls out another white rabbit.  In this case it's not just a gorgeous lush garden stream with a relaxing waterfall; no no, it's all that but also a massive installation dropping 20 feet in evaluation over the course of 250 feet, from the start to finish.  The start is topped with a 15 foot waterfall that spills into a pond. The other end terminates with a pond.  In between, the stream courses down smaller waterfalls and through mini ponds.  It's made with natural rock and trimmed out with various plants and flowers.  It's very cool.  Nice work Joe!!  You are a true artist.   Below is an image of the installation taken with me standing on top of the waterfalls looking down.  A beautiful visa.  You can see more of this photo shoot here:

Trinity Pines


From Above



John and Vicki's Place

This is one of my favorite Stone Mason pools; a Joe DiPaulo masterpiece for sure.  The photo below shows an endless pool built in the backyard of John & Vicki (located in South Texas).  The home is on a lake.   Looking towards the back of the pool you will see a swim through waterfall.  The entrance to the waterfall opens up into a lagoon which is shown in the next photo.  To take the first shot I was standing just in front of the outdoor kitchen which is shown in the third photo below (that is Barbara sitting at the kitchen bar.) 

Many features of this pool are not shown by these three photos.  For instance, there are five 6' fire towers that ring the installation (you can see two fire towers in the photo below).  These fire towers are lit by natural gas.  At night these fire towers create a spectacular setting.  With the fire bouncing shadows throughout the area and reflecting off the pool water, it feels as though you are in another world; an exotic wild jungle camp.  Also not shown is the meditation alcove tucked away among the rocks forming the waterfalls.  Finally, a garden spa, fiber optic lighting, an extensive stone patio and marble work rounds out a truly magical waterworld. 

You can see more of this installation here: John & Vicki's place

John Guild    




Out Door Kitchen





Picking  favorites is tough for me, I like them all. Nevertheless, let me try.  I selected three favorites:

1) This is from a Joe DiPaulo shoot I did in 2010.  Joe had built a gorgeous garden spa to fit the backyard of a home of in the Houston area.  This image is from that spa shoot.  It was captured after placing Barbara on a jump bridge spanning a 'stream' between two ends of the spa.  It was early morning, the sun was just coming up, the air was chilly, the light was long and the colors were saturated - perfect conditions.  I like this image; the human figure draws in the viewer eyes while the fire towers sweep the eye from left to right.  This garden spa is included in the Kevin and Leah folder found at:  Kevin and Leah's place   

Texas Morning


2) Next favorite: Chelsea Rose.  This photo was taken with the camera directly above the subject looking straight down.  It's not easy to capture a shot like this; just think about the camera setup required to capture this shot and do it well- in focus, positioned correctly, proper lighting, etc.   With cameras now having 'live view' and flip out view finders it's easier to take this type of shoot but it still takes some skill to capture a really compelling, professional, high quality image.   Here is a link to this photo shoot: Chelsea Rose


3) This final favorite is from my Extreme Floral series.  This series attempts to push the boundaries of floral photography.  The world is filled with wonderful, gorgeous photos of flowers.  I wanted to try something different.  With respect to this series, integrating flowers with barb wire, rope, beads then wrapping it all in a bundle is a standard practice (for me :).  The image was capture in our spa/water cave (a backyard installation that Joe built for us in 2008). During capture, the camera was several inches above the water line.  Here is a link to other Extreme Florals: Extreme Florals


Water Caves

One of the features that Joe likes to include in his pools and spas are water caves.  Joe can be very creative with his caves; and, they certainly make the pool and spa unique.  Naturally, only real stone is used.   Below are several examples; the first is a set of cave entrances to pools.  In the middle photo, left side, is a swim through cave entrance to a pool water side. The bottom photo is a large water cave that borders one side of a garden spa.   As a side note, the water cave that Joe built as part of our spa has formed the setting for my Extreme Floral series.  Thanks for that Joe!!  – J Guild


Water Cave, Grotto

Water Cave, Grotto




Hans and Jennifer's Water World

One of Joe's greatest attributes is his ability to visualize and then build out that vision.  In this respect, he is an artist and an engineer working with water, fire and rock.  The recent installation shown in the photo below is another example of how these elements have been integrate to create an expansive backyard water-world: pool, spa, water falls, water caves, wine cellar, fiber optic lighting, fire pits, fire tower and many other feature not all shown by this single photo.  One of the interesting aspects of this installation was the home owner's request to maintain the tree house that Grandpa had built.  The tree house (not show in this photo) has been nicely integrated into the installation.  

Just prior to a shoot for Joe, he always asks us to get a good overall shot of the installation.  This is sometimes a challenge especially when they are large installations, like the one shown in this photo.  We always use a ladder to get up high but that sometimes isn't enough.  Joe and I have discussed bringing in a helicopter and taking photos, that's an option which we might do in the future.   This time, to get a good overall shot of this installation I attached my camera to a long pole and swung it up and over the pool.   That worked!

Hans and JenniferOverview South East End

Blue on Blue

The turquoise water of the pool against the navy blue water of the lake creates a spectacular visual effect during a quiet Texas evening. The use of marble, natural rock and fine slate provide a touch of class. The waterfalls, lagoon, fire towers and palm trees craft a relaxing environment of leisure. This is a pool for discriminating owners who understand the unique characteristic of artistic imagination coupled with fine craftsmanship.


Evening Falls

Step Into a World of Water Fire Rock

The 'swim into' lagoon adjacent to the natural slate patio creates a unique recreational experience. The cinnabar red slate patio against the sapphire blue water results in a pleasing color effect. This 'feature rich' pool is for owners who value the experience of outdoor leisure in a water-beautiful environment



Designer Pool and Spa

The geometric juxtaposition of the spa against the pool creates an eye-pleasing creative lifescape. The use of fine slate and natural stone provide an enriching atmosphere. The installation of fiber optic lighting surrounding the pool, which cycles through a palette of colors, plus the fire pit creates a dynamic environment on a cool evening. This is a pool for those who appreciate outdoor living in a stimulating setting.