There is an undeniable sense of nostalgia in Soo’s work that honours the richness of history in each location. The result is both intentionally restrained but with a softness that beckons you to look further.
Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic capital city, photographer Soo Burnell constantly found inspiration in the iconic buildings and architecture surrounding her.
Following a project at Glenogle Baths, a pool she swam in as a child, she was re-in- troduced to the beauty of the architecture and serenity of these spaces. Beyond their unique architectural qualities, Soo was also drawn to their history and place at the heart of local communities.
Traditionally, generations of families used these pools for practical purposes, but often these became popular meeting places too. During her research, Soo met with residents who affectionately retold stories of visiting their local pool—often bringing back memories long since forgotten.
Inspired by her work at Glenogle, Soo began photographing other historic pools across Edinburgh with the intention of capturing their striking architecture and, by contrast, the stillness housed within. This led to her first exhibition, ‘Poolside’, in 2018.
Soo has gone on to photograph many different locations across the UK and Europe, documenting their striking geometry, dramatic proportions and muted colour palettes. Each one unique in its own right.
Her intention behind these images is to celebrate the original architecture while minimising modern elements. They capture everything from the pattern of the tiles, lines on the bottom of the pool, poolside lettering as much as the scale, light and atmosphere of these historic buildings. The images manage to encompass the stillness of each space as well as the individual beauty of each location.
Drawing inspiration from architecture and cinematic imagery, Soo’s impeccably stylised shots are dreamlike and often reminiscent of stills from a film. Early collections found inspiration in her love of Wes Anderson’s work, with recent collections inspired by other directors, including Terrence Malick, Stanley Kubrick and Bong Joon-ho.
Every image carefully styled to evoke a timelessness that gives the final piece a unique painterly quality. Figures are unadorned and used to accentuate the scale and vastness of each location rather than being the main point of focus. The dappled reflections on the water. The starkness of the pool signage. The intricate beauty of an ornate railing. These are the details that demand attention. There is an undeniable sense of nostalgia in Soo’s work that honours the richness of history in each location. The result is both intentionally restrained but with a softness that beckons you to look further.