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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

It’s really too bad that no one was around with a camera, taking pictures when the Egyptians built the great pyramids. Just imagine the volumes of scholarly conjecture and debate that could’ve been avoided had the pharaohs insisted on taking some construction shots along with them on their journey into the great beyond.

Well, at least the ancient Egyptians had an excuse: Photography was still a couple of millennia away. But when it comes to the fantastic monuments being built today, there really is no need to create lingering mysteries for the future.

Through the past year and a half, I’ve talked to so many of you who are excited about having recently completed what can best be described as some of the most exciting projects of your careers to date. Time and time again, you’ve described the thrill and satisfaction that comes from reaching for a higher level of design and vision and construction proficiency. Then, in the next breath (and you know who you are), you’ve told me that you didn’t take pictures along the way.

What’s done is done and there are always the beautiful shots to be had of these finished projects. Still, the things to be learned from the process of creation are limitless. Fact is, there are lots and lots of good reasons why it’s a good idea to document the work you do with photographs – only one of which is possible publication in a technique-oriented trade magazine like ours.

For starters, and on an entirely pragmatic level, taking pictures during construction is the only real way to determine what was actually done on a job. Suppose a pool shell cracks and a (rightly or wrongly) suspicious client raises questions about the thickness of the shell or the amount of steel in the cage. Sure, you can cut up some concrete to prove your point – or you can pull out a stack of color prints or a carousel of slides and put any such questions to rest.

And it’s not all about potential litigation: Perhaps your client wants to have additional work done in their backyard some time after you’ve built a watershape and simply needs to know where the plumbing, gas, electrical and irrigation lines are buried. If you’ve been thorough, it’ll all be there in pictures.

More than anything, photographs of your projects provide you with a valuable way to preserve a record of the good work you do. It’s a way to remind yourself of ways you’ve approached certain challenges or to teach others how to do the same. In fact, a good set of photos gives you and anyone interested a great way to see what it took to build the watershape in question.

In this issue, Brian Van Bower discusses the challenge of working effectively during these prosperous, busy times (click here). It’s a truly insightful and valuable discussion – and a column to which I’d like to add just this one more thought:

During these frantic times, as you’re building watershapes that are bigger and better than anything you’ve ever done before, don’t forget to keep a camera on hand to record the major steps of the construction process. My guess is that you’ll have many occasions to be glad you did. And who knows? The pictures you take today may end up in a magazine article someday.

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