One of the most recognized practitioners of golf course photography in the world is Aidan Bradley, a native of Ireland who lives in California. He travels the world for attention-getting images from some of the best golf courses on the planet.
In his explanation of how this field of photography works he starts with the idea that personality is very important!
Some of the most important ingredients in golf course images are "something easy on the eye" and using "nature's very own palette."
But he emphasizes that the use of light is the most important ingredient or as he calls it "the secret missing ingredient." For this reason, he suggests working in the early morning or in the evening. Daytime sunlight is much too harsh for the best images of golf courses.
Bradley also writes that every good photograph should determine what the purpose of each photograph will be. Documenting a location or specific spot requires less time and effort than creating a photograph that will serve as art work to be displayed in a prominent place.
In a similar way, you should devote more time and effort to all the aspects of the image.
Advice from another great source puts it this way:
"You must pay attention to the subject of the photograph, of course. But you should also focus on giving the subject the proper emphasis then do what you can to simplify the photo."
(New York Institute of Photography)
This top school also urges you to put strong focus on use of lighting to get the correct colours.
With this advice in mind, what must you do to pursue a career in golf course photography?
It's best to start at the beginning with any important undertaking. If you really want to grow in this field you should start with some of the fundamental ideas about golf courses and photography.
First of all, each golf course is different. Most designers and construction managers attempt to build courses that are true to the landscape and natural resources of the area.
Golf course in the United States
Choose your time carefully and then take some time to really look at the course in the morning light or evening light. Your eye should tell you where you the best images are. By the way, this works for other areas of landscape photography as well. But never forget that you are capturing memorable images of a golf course - a special place.
Don't focus only on grass, sand and ground-level ideas. Use the standard rules of composition to get sky, trees and other objects in the image for perspective and viewer interest. This will mean having the correct equipment, including wide-angle lenses and the correct filters for enhancing colour.
Rainbow golf course
We've looked at some great advice from experts and put the basics in place so that you can go out and get photos of golf courses. But what about some fine-tuning of your technique and top-level training?
One way would be to contact one of the individuals working in the field. There are many world-class professionals who offer exquisite work directly to golf courses, course designers, magazines and other paying customers.
In some cases, these individuals use interns and assistants to produce their work. The opportunities along this path are limited, but if you could build a relationship with a professional in this field you could get a start.
In addition to Aidan Bradley, you might want to check with such golf course photography pros as Evan Schiller, Michael Clemmer, Joan Dost, Fairway Photography and others. These professionals may offer occasional seminars or regular, short-term classes on their craft.
It might also be wise to contact your local community college or the photography department of a college or university. These schools can provide excellent training in general photography, landscape photography, outdoor photography and many other areas.
With this foundation in place you can start to specialize in golf course images. Start with a local course and build your portfolio gradually.
Golf course photography can be a rewarding and exciting profession. This career can take you to some of the most beautiful places on earth. But you'll have to do what the most successful golfers do - bring your "A" game.