While no two shoots are alike, my process typically begins with a phone call or email from a club or resort expressing an interest in having their golf course(s) photographed. I follow-up on that initial communication by asking lots of questions to find out exactly what the organization’s wants and needs are, specifically, do they want photography and/or video of every hole, or perhaps just a selection of images and videos? How many holes, images, and angles? Is there a signature hole or holes worth noting? What will the photography and/or video be used for, ie.,website, advertising, social media? Is there a particular time of year they want the course shot; for example, fall foliage, blooming gorse, fescue at its optimum height and color? Do they want photographs or footage at different times of the year? Are there particular features they want captured?
Having a clear understanding of my client’s needs is important to properly determine the amount of time required and the costs involved.
After thorough consideration of the project’s scope, I send a proposal or rate sheet. Upon agreement, the contract is signed and the dates of the photo-shoot are confirmed.
Once the date has been set, it’s critical that I’m in regular communication with the golf course superintendent so that important course maintenance like aeration, over-seeding, etc. do not conflict with the planned photo-shoot. The superintendent continues to be the most important person I work with once the shoot begins. The reason being, it’s imperative to coordinate our schedules so that the grounds crew and I can work together as effortlessly as possible, especially during those key morning hours. The best time to shoot in the morning is generally the first two hours after sunrise - that’s also the time the grounds crew is busy preparing the course for the day’s play. Keeping superintendents informed of my plans each day usually leads to help in raking bunkers and mowing specific fairways, greens and rough to make sure the course looks its best. The superintendent’s daily assistance could also include keeping the grounds crew away from the holes I am shooting that morning so as to avoid making tracks in the dew or interrupting the photo shoot by their presence (this is particularly important when shooting video as drone photography captures such a large area).
Other critical communication with the golf course team includes the professional staff and the status of the tee sheet. What time are the first golfers scheduled to tee off in the morning? What is the last tee time in the afternoon? Are there any tournaments scheduled during the shoot? The more flexibility there is with the tee sheet (especially the ability to block tee times), the more efficient I can be as the course photographer, especially when time is limited and the days get shorter.
Upon the shoot’s completion, I spend several days editing and retouching the images. Turnaround time for receiving the edited images is generally two to three weeks depending on the amount of editing necessary, as well as my schedule. Exceptions are always made if there are immediate needs for the photos.
Once I return the high-resolution images the club or resort has full, unlimited usage of the photos for all marketing, advertising and social media purposes.