Don’t call the cops. Getting high on a golf course is part of a golf photographer’s job. It’s not only uplifting, it’s also legal.
It would be a serious handicap for a golf photographer to suffer severe vertigo. You just have to get that angle from above! Whether you decide to fly drones, photo kites, climb a ladder or a cliff, it’s essential to get above your subject matter.
Reasons that golf pictures are better from the air: the same reason you wouldn’t take a photo of a pizza from the edge of the table. Golfers want to see the greens and their contours, and how the fairways and bunkers suit the eye.
Sometimes the terrain is your friend. I can think of golf courses where you can stand on a hilltop and create magnificent golf pictures shooting from above with a wide angle lens. Then there are other courses that can infuriate anyone traipsing around with a camera. There’s no hill to climb, not even a tiny mound next to the green. In these cases, high heels just won’t do the job.
Golf photoshoot: prepare
That’s when you have to get in league with the equipped, i.e. greenkeepers and course managers. Last month at The Scandinavian outside of Copenhagen I asked whether I could get a golf cart with a ladder attached at the back (please note that you follow my advice at your own risk!). The higher you climb, the less stable the cart is beneath you. It’s important that the ladder is securely strapped and that you park on an even patch of ground – otherwise: aaaaaaahhh…………… splat.
Or you could set up a tall ladder away from the cart. That works, too. Of course you know that keeping the sun to either your right or your left, so the rays are coming in from the side, is probably the best strategy. Not only does it keep your shadow out of the picture, but it also provides your subject matter, that beautiful golf course, with a rich texture. Light in all its subtle variations is excruciatingly beautiful.
Another important thing to remember (how many times have you heard this already?) is that the sun needs to be fairly low on the horizon for the best golf course photos. Get high in the morning. Get high in the evening. But when the sun is high, you don’t have to be. Go have some breakfast or practice your chipping.
Interested in golf photography? Read our blog post about famous golf photographers.