Dave Sansom Photography: Blog https://www.davesansom.com/blog en-us Copyright 2008-2023, Dave Sansom (Dave Sansom Photography) Thu, 02 May 2024 11:18:00 GMT Thu, 02 May 2024 11:18:00 GMT https://www.davesansom.com/img/s/v-12/u1027268321-o58880511-50.jpg Dave Sansom Photography: Blog https://www.davesansom.com/blog 116 120 Eclipse 2024 https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2024/4/eclipse-2024 Total Eclipse 2024

Total Solar Eclipse at Crooked Stick Golf ClubTotal Solar EclipseCrooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, Indiana When I first began thinking about where I’d like to be for April’s total solar eclipse, “Newfoundland” popped into my head. It’s beautiful. I’ve never been there. Good combo! And since it's directly in the Path of Totality and the sun would be fairly low as it crossed the island, it seemed like a good idea. 

But when I looked into typical weather conditions for Newfoundland in early April, I chose to look elsewhere. Cool, cloudy and rainy don’t work well for eclipse photography. I had a less-than-wonderful experience In 2017, when I attempted to photograph the total solar eclipse at The Cullasaja Club, in Cashiers, North Carolina. I never saw the sun. Nothing but clouds. It got dark. And then light again. That was my 2017 eclipse experience, and I was determined to not repeat that disaster. So, a big “NO” to Newfoundland, and I began my search for a golf club along the Path of Totality.

As I looked over the clubs with which I have relationships, Crooked Stick jumped up and shouted, “ME, ME, ME!”. I have photographed this iconic course several times since 2014. I genuinely love the club and the folks who work there have always been very kind to me. So I called Tony Pancake, the GM, and he was all in for having this old guy with a camera show up to shoot the eclipse. Yippee! 

So on April 6th my wife and I drove from Atlanta to Indianapolis, had a wonderful dinner at Delicia, our favorite Indy restaurant, and got a good night’s sleep. The next day we showed up at the club to scout for the best location from which to shoot the event. I wanted a landscape of the golf course that incorporated the full eclipse cycle, so I could create a composite that included a collection of the phases of the eclipse. Three locations looked good. My favorite, from a photographic standpoint, was from behind the 18th green. But since 200 members were expected to come out to see the eclipse, and since the 18th green is adjacent to the clubhouse, I decided on a location I thought would offer some solitude, just behind the 17th green. 

It was great fun. Eclipse photography is more technical than the way I usually shoot. I’m big on gut feelings, and that’s the way I generally work. Sadly, my gut got in the way of my brain during this epic eclipse and a couple of shots I was looking forward to capturing didn’t happen. But the good news is, the next total eclipse in the Western Hemisphere will be happening in Iceland, my favorite non-USA country in the world! I don’t need much of an excuse to go to Iceland again!

(Dave Sansom Photography) 2024 april 8 crooked stick crooked stick golf club dave sansom golf course photographer golf course photography private golf club total solar eclipse https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2024/4/eclipse-2024 Sat, 13 Apr 2024 15:15:12 GMT
What, exactly, is an authentic photograph? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2023/3/what-exactly-is-an-authentic-photograph AUTHENTICITY
The Cambridge Dictionary defines authenticity as “the quality of being real or true.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about authenticity. I try to be an authentic person, and I certainly prefer hanging out with people who are authentic, but that’s a topic for another day. 

Indian Wells Golf Resort, 12th Hole, Celebrity CourseIndian Wells Golf Resort, 12th Hole, Celebrity Course I’m talking about authenticity as it relates to photography. So… “the quality of being real or true.” Hmmm. There’s a movement in photography that some refer to as photography with “No Filters”.  Often, these  images are ones snapped with smartphones or point-and-shoots that show up on Instagram, celebrating the fact that the photographer used “No Filters”. The truth is, though, that these types of cameras are doing tons of processing. They set white balance, white point, black point, contrast, exposure, sharpening, noise reduction and more to create what the manufacturer thinks will be an optimum shot. Sometimes these cameras make great choices. Sometimes not. But this type of “No Filters” photography is a myth, and a strong case can be made that these images are neither “real nor true”.

Indian Wells Golf Resort, 7th Hole, Players CourseIndian Wells Golf Resort, 7th Hole, Players Course So is there such a thing as an authentic photograph? How does one translate a two dimensional image into an accurate representation of a three dimensional subject? (See NOTE, below)

I’ve always been motivated to bring out the best in the golf courses I photograph. When I’m on a course, shooting, I’m simply gathering raw material, using light and composition in an attempt to tell the story of a golf hole. But there are times in the studio… when I’m examining an image in very close detail… that extensive digital course repair is required. So how do I reconcile that digital repair work with the idea of authenticity?

Indian Wells, 14th Hole, Celebrity CourseIndian Wells, 14th Hole, Celebrity Course Nature is full of flaws, even nature that’s maintained by professional golf course superintendents and their teams. There are always divots in tee boxes and on fairways, And though random brown patches don’t necessarily detract from a course’s playability, they don’t help a photograph. These kinds of “daily use” flaws are always on my radar for repair. But beyond that, finding an ideal balance between creativity and authenticity is an ongoing challenge. The journey from a flat, two dimensional image to one with light, depth and dimension that draws a viewer in and more closely mimics reality is full of challenges and opportunities. It’s what I work hard to achieve, and sometimes I succeed! Yay! My most recent project… full packages of each of Indian Wells Golf Resort’s 18 hole courses… was one such success. 

Indian Wells, 6th Hole, Players CourseIndian Wells, 6th Hole, Players Course Indian Wells Golf Resort is one of the finest properties I’ve had the pleasure of photographing, but there were still creative decisions required to find that elusive “authenticity”. The property is beautifully maintained, and even though the resort’s two courses get a huge amount of play, the maintenance staff is stellar. Not only do they maintain very high standards, but they’re practically invisible. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so little of a maintenance staff. For this old guy with a camera, Indian Wells was a spectacular photo shoot. The images turned out beautifully, and I’m very pleased with their authenticity. I shot with every lens in my possession, including using a 400 mm lens to bring the mountains closer in some of the images for dramatic effect. But even this creative stretch doesn’t damage the authentic nature of the images. What I try very hard to do with my photography is to create a feeling of “being there.” If I succeed, not only do viewers get that sense of standing on the site, but a successful photograph can add a destination to the viewer’s bucket list. And that’s exactly the goal. I hope you’ll take a moment to see Indian Wells Golf Resort thru my eyes. Just CLICK HERE. I think it may make your list of must-play destinations.

Professional landscape photographers… among whom I count myself… generally shoot in Camera Raw. This is a mode available on many cameras that simply records all the data captured by the sensor, making no adjustments at all. This is closer to a “No Filters” approach than what one captures with a smart phone, and leaves the responsibility/opportunity for creating an authentic image in the hands of the photographer. It is then up to him or her… in the editing process… to create an image that evokes the sensation of the experience at the moment the image was captured. Frankly, a RAW image is flat and boring, and nobody would consider a RAW file something to share. But for the professional, a good RAW capture opens up almost limitless creative possibilities. Endless options, though, can be a two-edged sword. First, there’s a lot to learn in today’s digital darkroom, in order to properly edit a RAW capture. After 14 years of professional shooting, I still learn something new every day. The ability to take a RAW image in so many different directions is what I love about this work. But the flip side of this multi-option coin is that with almost endless possibilities, it’s easy to go overboard. As a recovering over-adjuster, I’ve had to tamp down my heavy-handed tendencies my entire career. Sometimes, looking at my early work, I can see that I had a knack for this work, even though I was new to it. But often, I’m mortified at my ham-fisted adjustments. I don’t know whether to thank the clubs who hired me in the early days for their encouragement and support or to apologize for my ineptitude. 

Indian Wells, 7th Hole, Players CourseIndian Wells, 7th Hole, Players Course


(Dave Sansom Photography) california celebrity course dave sansom golf course photography indian wells players course troon troon golf course https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2023/3/what-exactly-is-an-authentic-photograph Thu, 23 Mar 2023 15:18:39 GMT
Why Should You Consider Professional Golf Course Photography For Your Club? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2022/11/why-should-you-consider-professional-golf-course-photography-for-your-club IN AN INCREASINGLY COMPETITIVE GOLF MARKET, DO HIGH QUALITY PUBLISHABLE IMAGES REALLY MATTER?

Maybe. Maybe not. The decision is yours, but I have a couple of thoughts.

Dave Sansom Photography

  • Have you recently completed a renovation?
  • Are the images you’re using today more than 5 years old?
  • Are the photos in your current library just… not good?

These are all good reasons to consider having new photography done, but like any other element of your marketing communications program, balancing the costs and value of photography is important.


Today everybody carries a camera in their pocket, and most clubs have members who are avid photographers. So why does hiring a professional make any sense at all?

Consider this scenario: When your good friend, Joe, pulls out the prints from his latest vacation or photo adventure, he’ll accompany each image with a story. He’ll tell you what the temperature was as the waves crashed on the shore; he’ll wax poetic about the beautiful spring morning and how sweet the flowers smelled; he’ll recall what his wife was doing while he was out taking pictures, and on and on.

In other words, he’ll share the total experience with you, making it real and vivid—so much so that you may not notice the shortcomings in his photography skills. And that’s okay! For an “average Joe”, nice snaps and a great memory are enough.

A magazine publisher will notice those flaws, though. So will an awards committee looking for a recipient for this year’s “best renovation” award.

A professional’s image, unlike Joe’s, has to stand on its own. Technical and creative aspects of an image must stand up to the scrutiny of magazine publishers, print designers, marketing teams, and more. Each image must have the power to tell its story on its own, without any accompanying conversation. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Dave Sansom Photography

An experienced pro… especially one who is regularly published… has an expert understanding of how to portray your golf course in its very best light. A good professional knows how to provide images with a “Wow” factor.

A good golf course photograph is more than a picture of a golf hole. It quickens the blood of any golfer, piquing their interest and making them say “Wow! I want to be there.” Even non-golfers can appreciate the sweeping majesty of a velvety green, a spectacular sunset over the 9th hole, or the crashing blue and gray ocean just yards away from the emerald green of the fairway. Golf courses are designed to be beautiful, aren’t they?

Dave Sansom Photography

So let’s assume you agree with me that hiring a professional photographer makes good sense for your club. What, exactly, can you do with the photos? Not surprisingly, I have a few suggestions!


1. Upgrade the look of your web site

Often, your web site is a prospective member’s first exposure to your club and golf course. Tired, dated photos will only serve to make your club look worn out or old. Conversely, great photographs can have a major, positive impact on your club’s image, and on visitors to your web site.

2. Document renovations and other changes to your course and clubhouse

At some point in the future, you may publish a book to celebrate a club milestone. And when you do, it may be difficult to pull together good quality images that represent the club’s history…unless, of course, you’ve built and maintained an archive of good quality images.

3. Use in your club’s newsletter and in social media

Words are important, but images add punch and excitement to those words. If you don’t grab your readers’ attention immediately, they’ll move on to the next tweet or Instagram in a heartbeat.

4. Submit to magazines for awards or in conjunction with articles

This may be the most important reason to use a pro. Golf and sports magazine editors, publishers, and designers are working with great images every day, and they give prime placement… including covers… to the best ones they receive. It’s the same with the groups who hand out “Best New Design” awards or “Most Improved Golf Course”. If you’ve had a recent renovation, and feel it may be worthy of an award, a great photograph can be the difference between a First Place and an Honorable Mention.

5. Publish a club calendar

Your members love their club! And they’ll be thrilled to receive a gift from club management featuring photos of their wonderful golf course. They’d also be glad to purchase a calendar, if that makes more sense to you. Avid golfers will eagerly hang a stunning calendar in their office to show colleagues where they spend their weekends. Producing a club calendar doesn’t cost that much, but can offer big returns.

6. Sell framed prints (and pay for the photo shoot!)

Many of the clubs I work with sell my photos in their pro shops. Some sell thousands of dollars a year in prints. Great photographs sell.

Dave Sansom Photography

7. Decorate your clubhouse with large prints of your favorite images

What says, “We are proud of our wonderful golf course!” better than strategically placed, beautifully framed photographs of your club’s centerpiece?

8. Use framed prints or other image-based merchandise as tee gifts for tournaments

Turn your photos into a profit center, and one that’s very well received. It’s also very simple, logistically, since your equipment or clothing rep doesn’t have to show up for fittings! Plus, every participant in an event at your club will hang his new print in his office or at home, serving to generate conversations about your club for years to come.

9. Provide tournament & special event organizers with marketing images

Tournament organizers promoting events at your club will appreciate great images to help promote their events. The more high quality images you have to offer them, the more likely they’ll be to use them, and in more places.

10. Multiplicity

Smartphone snaps might work for you on Twitter and Instagram, maybe in a newsletter here or there, but that’s about it. A professional high quality image, on the other hand, can work for you on all those platforms, plus everywhere else I’ve mentioned above. It’s an investment that can meet a wide range of needs.

Dave Sansom Photography


In an increasingly competitive golf market, do high quality, publishable images of your property really matter?

I can’t answer that question for you, but in my experience, the answer has always been a resounding “YES!”.

If you decide that professional help is in order… and I’m not talking psychiatry here… I hope you’ll allow me to toss my Nikon into the ring. And please allow me to offer a helpful hint… always be sure that the portfolio images a photographer shows you are recent. (NOTE: All the images in this article were captured and edited in 2022) Anything older than a couple of years may not truly reflect a shooter’s current style or quality of work.

So whether you hire me or another professional golf course photographer, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did.



(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom golf course photographer golf course photography golf course prints sell marketing https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2022/11/why-should-you-consider-professional-golf-course-photography-for-your-club Wed, 16 Nov 2022 16:35:22 GMT
ALWAYS SHOW UP https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2021/5/always-show-up Something big happened this week, and it’s made me pause to think about this great gig I have, how I provide my services to my clients and how I can do a better job of communicating.

First, the “Something big”. I cancelled photo shoots for two clubs. Actually, I simply postponed the projects, but because “Always Show Up” is my mantra, it’s still a big deal. And it was really a difficult decision.

I was scheduled to photograph two golf clubs in South Carolina over a period of 5 days, but as the shoot approached, the weather forecast looked more and more grim. 95% cloud cover was predicted for 4 of the 5 days I was scheduled to be in the area. I don’t mind clouds. In fact, I prefer to have some clouds in the sky, rather than clear blue. But 95% cloud cover meant that little, if any, light would be hitting the ground. And that’s a worst case scenario for golf course photography. 

I have in my Letter of Intent… which I provide my clients when I’m hired for a project… language that justifies a rescheduling of a photo shoot, but though the language states that changes can be necessitated by adverse weather conditions, it’s not entirely clear what weather conditions are ample reason for postponement. Which brings me to a communications shortcoming of mine. I assume folks know what I mean when I refer to “adverse weather conditions” or “bad shooting conditions”, and that’s probably not fair. I can successfully capture good images in almost any weather condition. But not always. So… what weather conditions make for a good photo shoot, and what conditions are unacceptable, making it impossible to capture usable images?

The key to great golf course photography… actually, the key to great photography of any kind… is light. The presence of light, the absence of light, or a combination of the two conditions are crucial to great photography. (But since I’m talking about golf course photography, that’s the focus of this missive.) Sunlight makes for great photos. Sunlight hitting the ground. Sunlight at a low angle. Sunlight creating dramatic rays in the clouds or beaming thru the trees. There are many kinds of sunlight that offer opportunities for great photography, but sunlight is necessary. The contrast created by sunlight and shadows strengthens an image, and can be used effectively during the editing process to build a dynamic, interesting image. 

Let me pause for a moment to say that some of my favorite images have been captured without sunlight. I shoot every day at dawn when I’m on a project, and a gorgeous blue hour shot doesn’t include sunlight on the ground. I’ve also captured some wonderful images on golf courses on foggy mornings. But while those images work well as accent pieces in an overall set of images, they won’t hold up as the dominant portion of a golf course collection. Who wants to project their club’s image as one that’s always gray and gloomy?

I’m always looking for Interesting skies, and they can come in many forms. A passing storm… wispy cirrus clouds painting with light brush strokes across an otherwise pure blue sky… big, billowy cumulus clouds filling the sky and casting strong shadows over the ground. It’s hard to categorize all the ways that clouds help in composing an interesting image, but having something in the sky matters to me. I can work well with clear blue skies by shooting differently, though, changing to a long lens and minimizing the amount of compositional space devoted to the sky. I’ll often eliminate the sky altogether by zooming in on a green complex or an architectural feature or shooting around or thru trees. I can also shoot drone aerials focused solely on the ground, with long shadows adding the contrast and interest those images need.

Interesting skies reflected in a body of water are the mother lode of golf course photography, especially at dawn or sunset. Yikes! Many times, when photographing a transition from day to night or night to day, when great skies were reflected in water, I’ve found myself physically vibrating. This visceral, emotional response to nature’s beauty is something I try hard to communicate thru my images, and in many ways, these “transitions” define my style.

But back to the original dilemma of postponing my recent photo shoot. Faced with 4 days of almost total cloud cover, I knew in my heart that while I may have captured an image or two that would find their way into a final collection my client would be pleased to have represent his  property, I also knew that a full collection of good images would not happen with day upon day of heavy cloud cover. 

So, while rescheduling a photo shoot is a painful decision, I hope any future clients who fall victim to a postponement are as understanding as the two clubs in South Carolina have been. My goal is always to provide a great collection of images for my client, and the only thing that would cause me to postpone a shoot is a certainty… to the extent weather forecasts offer any kind of certainty… that that goal will not be achieved as scheduled. I haven’t postponed a photo shoot in years, because it breaks my heart to fail in my effort to “Always Show Up”. And I hope never to do it again.

McLemore_18M-Pano_6-20 copyMcLemore, Rising Fawn, GeorgiaAll rights reserved

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom golf course photographer interesting skies shooting conditions sunrise https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2021/5/always-show-up Mon, 10 May 2021 13:28:26 GMT
Three Key Elements of A Great Golf Course Photo Shoot https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2019/5/three-key-elements-that-make-a-great-golf-course-photo-shoot Light - The Most Important Element 

Every time I step onto a golf course for a photo shoot, my goal is to capture a set of images that represent that golf course in its best light. Literally. Because light is the most crucial element in a great golf course photograph. Whether the light I'm working with is a blazing dawn sun breaking the horizon, or soft filtered light streaming through the trees onto a late day fairway or green, the light is the key to a great photo. Light illuminates color, it defines contrast and it reveals detail.

Good "Bones" Matter

Golf courses are unique landscapes. They're collaborations between nature and designers, joining to provide an experience beyond the simple act of hitting a golf ball enough times to get it into the hole. There are courses with spectacular "bones", and those courses are a joy to shoot. But beyond those truly great properties, the vast majority of golf courses offer a good photographer multiple opportunities for great images. The biggest challenge I generally have to overcome is cleanup. Tee boxes usually require significant cleanup. Fairways are seldom flawless, so I often spend time nudging them in that direction. And greens are sometimes less than perfect, especially for photos taken with ultra-high resolution cameras positioned very close. So a little work in these areas is not unusual.

Good Skies - The Icing on the Cake

Interesting skies can enhance a good image, turning it into a great image, so I'm always looking for relationships between the elements of the hole I'm shooting and the skies. Many folks feel like a blue sky is ideal for golf, and I agree. For playing golf. Not for photographing a golf course. Great skies introduce a whole new creative tool set to the process and allow a photographer to elevate a picture of a golf hole to a good... or even a great... photograph of a golf hole. And that's always my goal.

First Impressions and Final Thoughts

Today, most images a professional photographer creates will be seen almost exclusively on the internet. But when editing a photograph, I think in terms of very large prints because I want my images to stand out in a very competitive marketplace. Beyond the initial impression of color, light and form, I want the most obscure details to be crystal clear, no matter how closely one examines them. Publishers want great photographs when writing about a golf course, and I want my clients' courses featured prominently in golf publications. Golfers in search of a place to play or a club to join have many options in today's golf market, and I want my clients' courses to capture their attention. To me, it's crucial to ensure that my clients' properties are presented at their very best, whether it's in an article in Golf Digest or in a tiny thumbnail image on Golf Now. First impressions only happen once.

Want To Learn More About How We Can Work Together To Present Your Golf Course In Its Best Light?  CLICK HERE. 




(Dave Sansom Photography) https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2019/5/three-key-elements-that-make-a-great-golf-course-photo-shoot Thu, 02 May 2019 14:57:03 GMT
Hiring a Pro Photographer... What Do You Get For Your Money? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2018/7/hiring-a-pro-photographer-what-do-you-get-for-your-money Professional golf course photography is a valuable asset to a golf club interested in maintaining its market share or in growing its presence.  But it’s not inexpensive.  And what do you get for your money, if you hire an experienced professional to do the job?

Here’s a news flash.  There is no National Union of Golf Course Photographers to set rates, define licensing terms or establish standards for deliverables.  Which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. You might say golf course photography is like the Wild West.  So in many ways, it’s a buyer’s market.  Lucky you!  That’s the upside.

The downside is that, with a wide array of golf course photographers available to you... from seasoned pros to newbies just trying to get started... how do you know what you’ll get for your money?  If fact, how do you even know what questions to ask a photographer?  With ten years of golf course photography under my belt and a long list of great projects in my rearview mirror, I have some thoughts I’d like to share.  And who knows?  Some of them may even be helpful!

Let’s start with the photography fees and expenses  

Many established photographers charge a day rate of up to $3000 per day or more, with guarantees of only 8 to 12 images per day.  Yikes!  Other photographers charge on a per-project basis, with a set fee and a guaranteed number of images once your project is complete.  But with either type of shooter, be sure you know how many images the photographer will complete for review, and how many you’ll end up with at the end of the project.  

Travel expenses are also part of the cost, so be sure you understand the parameters, going in.  Normal travel expenses will include lodging, meals and transportation.  These can vary quite a bit, depending on how quickly you need the photographer so if possible, plan ahead and you may save a few bucks.  Another expense you should be aware of up front is equipment rental, which can cover anything from specialty lenses to bucket trucks.  Be sure you have a solid estimate of those costs in-hand before committing to the project, or you could find yourself with a nasty surprise after the photo shoot.  In my opinion, the quality of a photographer’s work is the most important consideration, but if you’re wavering between two photographers, knowing exactly what you’ll get for your money can be a deciding factor.

Editing Extras

Beware of photographers who have a rate for on-site photography and simple color corrections, but charge additional fees for retouching.  If you’re not familiar with the term, retouching is the more detailed and exacting editing that results in a truly finished photograph.  This can include simple processes like cleaning up divots in a tee box, or much more complex issues in a photograph as needed.  There aren’t too many photographers who tack on retouching fees, but it’s a question you should ask, just to be sure.

Reviewing and Selecting Images

When your images are complete, how will you be able to review them?  I don’t know any photographers who will release high resolution images prior to the completion of a sale.  Digital files live forever, so having unlicensed images floating thru the ether makes every photographer nervous.  There are essentially two options for reviewing your images… contact sheets or online galleries.  Contact sheets will probably be digital files, emailed to you.  Be sure the images are large enough to allow close examination.  What I provide my clients… and what I recommend… is an online gallery that allows for full screen viewing of images.  Images formatted for online viewing won’t be full resolution images, but if you can see them full-screen, you’ll be able to catch any troubling flaws so you can request additional editing by the photographer, if needed.


Licensing is perhaps the most important element of your image purchase, because your image license defines how you may use the images.  Read the photographer’s license carefully and be sure you understand the terms. If you can get a sample license up front, it’s best.  Just ask.  Most professionals will be happy to provide a sample license.

Here are the kinds of things an image license will cover:

  • What form will your deliverables take?: Images prepared for use on your website are not suitable for print, so if you have print uses in mind, be sure you will receive a set of high resolution images.  A high resolution image will have a minimum resolution of 240 PPI, but 300 PPI is more common.  Web Ready images will be delivered in a resolution from 72 PPI to 100 PPI.  
  • Color Space:  Color Space is just as important as resolution, and you should know what you’re getting.  There are essentially four “Color Spaces” in photo world, and each has its place.  The largest color space, and the one most photographers favor for their creative work, is ProPhoto RGB.  Close, but not quite as large, is Adobe RGB.  The sRGB Color Space is the most common color space for deliverable images, because it is the de facto standard for all internet presentation of images, and most digital printing labs prefer to receive sRGB files for printing.  The fourth Color Space is CMYK.  If you plan any offset printing projects, your image files will need to be converted to the CMYK Color Space.  Offset printing companies can usually do a good job with this conversion, so ask your printer if you’re doing any offset work.   
  • Exclusivity: If you want to be the only entity using images of your club, you need an exclusive license.  However, exclusive licensing is more expensive… often triple the cost of non-exclusive… so if you don’t absolutely need exclusivity, save yourself some money.  I work with many international clients, and to date the only one who has asked for an exclusive license was a major International hotel.  After we got the lawyers calmed down, and everybody understood that my non-exclusive license allowed them to do everything they wanted to do, they were very happy with a non-exclusive license.
  • Limited or Unlimited Use: Pay very close attention to this part of your license.  The purpose of an image license is to define limitations, so this is the heart of the agreement.  If use is limited, be sure that the limitations are acceptable.  Or ask that they be changed.  Nothing is cast in stone, so feel free to ask for any changes you require.
  • License term: For how long may you use the images? Some licenses are sold per-year, while others may have longer terms.  Some, as mine are, are permanent.  If you want to maintain a library for archival purposes, a one or two year license obviously won’t do the job.
  • Geographic limitations: Can you only use your images locally?  Regionally?  Nationally?  Worldwide?  You may have no interest in marketing your club in Bulgaria, but you may want to submit an article about your club to a golf magazine with international reach, so be sure your license allows it.
  • Attribution: Photographers, like writers and other creatives, want to be given credit for any published use of their images, and most licenses will  require it.  Publishers are very familiar with giving proper attribution, so it’s generally not a problem.  If you, on the other hand, find it irritating to have to ask a publisher to put “Copyright 2018, My Photographer” next to a photograph in a magazine article or book or on your web site, be sure to discuss this with your photographer before you agree to a deal.
  • Assignability:  There will be times when you may want to give another entity… a person or a business… one of your photographs for their use.  Be sure you understand the limitations in your license, because there probably will be some.  Giving an image to a company hosting an event at your club to promote that event (and your club) is one thing, and is usually acceptable.  Giving an image to a writer or publisher to use in a book (from which the writer and/or publisher will derive income) is quite another, and may require a separate license, as well as an additional fee.  
  • Altering Images: If you want to give your marketing and design team the right to crop, retouch, add elements or otherwise alter an image, be sure your license allows it.
  • Model Releases: If you’ve had photographs done that include people, and those people are readily recognizable, you will need model releases.  Your photographer may or may not supply those releases, so this is an important topic for conversation prior to hiring a photographer.

You’ve Made Your Image Selections.  What Now?

Once you’ve selected the images you wish to own, you will receive your image files in a digital format, either via download or on a disk or thumb drive.  A Caution:  Do not distribute your master files.  Store your master files on a secure drive, make copies and use that set of copies for distribution as needed.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself one day in search of a file that magically walked away.  If this happens, your photographer will more than likely have an archive and should be happy to send you a replacement.

How Can You Use Your New Images?  Let Me Count The Ways!

_ROB4069_ROB4069 There are many reasons for a golf club to maintain a library of quality photographs.  From using them on its web site, to providing marketing materials to outside organizations holding events at its property… from having current images for the club’s newsletter, to selling framed prints and gift items in the golf shop, the list is fairly extensive.  Understanding the full spectrum of potential uses for your new images may be the best way to benefit all segments of your club.

Here are some potential uses for your new images

For the Marketing Communications Team

  • Web Site
  • Club Newsletters
  • Advertising/Marketing, from magazines to broadcast
  • Submissions to Publications for articles
  • Trade Show Booth

For the Golf Pro Shop / Merchandising

  • Sale of Framed Prints and Gift Items
  • Tee Gifts for Internal and External Events
  • Hole-In-One Awards

I typically am hired by management and marketing teams to provide images for their club’s marketing communications program.  But I also work with golf pros and merchandising managers to offer framed prints and other products in the golf shop featuring these new images.  Obviously, Hole-In-One Awards are something every golf shop offers, and a photo of the hole, the scorecard and even the ball, beautifully framed is a proven seller.  But given the success that some of my clients have had selling framed prints, and even using framed prints and gift items for tee gifts, it’s worth giving some thought to using your new photos to generate a new revenue stream.

A Word of Caution

Framed prints don’t come with the support of an international marketing program like Titleist or Taylormade.  It will be up the golf shop staff to shine a light on these items if they are to sell well.  The first club that ever sold framed prints of my images had a merchandising manager who loved my work and enthusiastically supported the sale of prints.  In the first year, she sold almost $10,000 worth of prints.  When she had a baby and left the club, her replacement told me, in so many words, “Golf photographs don’t sell in pro shops”.  She then moved the prints she had in stock into a back room.  In her first year, print sales totaled $80.  Same club.  Same old me.  Different merchandising manager. 

I suspect that this article may have raised as many questions as it’s answered, so if that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience.  If there’s anything I can do to help you and your club, I’ll be happy to do so.

(Dave Sansom Photography) cost of photography dave sansom golf course photography image licensing photography professional photographer https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2018/7/hiring-a-pro-photographer-what-do-you-get-for-your-money Thu, 26 Jul 2018 09:15:00 GMT
Making The Most of Golf Course Photography in Your Marketing Program https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2018/2/making-the-most-of-golf-course-photography-in-your-marketing-program Making the Most of Golf Course Photography

Marketing your business... whether that business is golf course design or a golf and country club... is all about showing prospective customers what you can do for them. And the proper use of photography in that effort can be the difference between between looking fully professional and not so much... and even the difference between success and failure. Of course these days, with the advent of smart phones, everyone's a photographer.  So why is professional photography even relevant any more? 

The reason? Well, there are two types of photographs… 














I’ll describe each of these types of photos in more detail later but first, let’s get personal for a moment.  Assume for a few minutes that you’re single. You’re successful. You’re busy. And you’re lonely. But you really want to find that special someone, so since you don’ have time to go looking for the perfect mate, you sign up on Match.com.  You fill out your profile in great detail, so anyone who’s interested can learn all there is to know about you.  And then you have to select your profile picture. 

Do you use this photo?...




Or this one? 




I know. It's a tough choice. And really... why should the photo matter, anyway? After all, anyone who’s interested can learn all they need to know about you by reading your profile, right? Maybe so, but the truth is, to compel "that perfect match" to read your profile, you first have to capture their attention.  You have to make that first cut.  So I could be wrong, but I’m guessing you'll be posting the second photo.

Your business is also seeking a match, and whether that match is a developer interested in building a new golf course or a prospective club member, the first thing you must do is capture their attention. And to do that consistently and effectively, nothing works better than great photography… the kind of images I refer to as ones that "Inspire an Exclamation".  Because if you don’t pique your prospect's interest instantly, you won’t make that first cut.  Your competition… who IS using great photography… will.  Your wonderful profile will go unread, and you’ll never know. No matter how compelling your marketing pitch is, it won’t matter.  Because that first impression is what captures your prospect’s imagination and motivates them to dig deeper.  

All that being said, there is also a good use for those cell phone photos and the snapshots your members offer you.  These shots, the ones that “Require An Explanation”, are what I call “Homemade Photos”.  They are perfect for social media, email newsletters and for use in a secondary role on your web sites.  You post the photo, you write a brief explanation.  Someone responds.  You reply.  Someone else responds.  And you have engagement. Perfect. 

Troon Golf & Travel Magazine, Digital Edition - Cover, January, 2016Troon Golf & Travel Magazine, Digital Edition - Cover, January, 2016This cover of Troon Golf and Travel features an image of the 7th and 8th holes at Kapalua's Plantation Course. But for the more competitive arenas… headline locations on your web sites; print materials, including brochures and portfolios; and publications… especially publications... homemade photos really have no place.  You'll never see a homemade photo on a magazine cover. In these areas, it’s important that you “Inspire an Exclamation” to stand out in the crowd and capture the attention of your target market. 

So I’m curious… why are great golf course architects and exceptional golf clubs not paying closer attention to how the world sees them?  It could be that you don’t care, or don’t know any better.  Or it could be that the perceived cost of having professional photography done is holding you back.  If you’re in the first category, do some internet searching.  Are your competitors using professional imagery in their marketing efforts?  If so, then you’d better start caring, because they’re making that important first cut, and inspiring their prospects to learn more. If cost is your concern, do some research.  There are a lot of photographers out there, and we all do business differently.  Find a few professional golf course photographers whose work impresses you and ask them for more information, including costs and deliverables.  Ask if their rates are based on a day rate or per project.  Once you have real information, based on today’s market, you can make better decisions about whether professional photography will provide a good ROI.

I doubt if a photograph ever inspired a developer or a prospective member to sign an agreement. I know my images don’t have that kind of influence, and I’m unaware of any other pro who claims that to be the case.  But what a professional can do is help you to make the first cut and inspire your prospect to keep you among the “possibles” as they research their options.  As one who makes that first cut, you’ll be able to present your case, and thru the genuine quality of your offering make the sale.   

So in 2018, give some serious thought to how the world sees you.  And note that I didn’t write, “what the world reads about you”.  Our culture, as a whole, suffers from attention deficit disorder.  It’s your choice whether you’re defeated by that cultural predilection or whether you take advantage of it by making sure you always show your best side when it counts.


(Dave Sansom Photography) great golf course photography make the first cut marketing marketing with photography https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2018/2/making-the-most-of-golf-course-photography-in-your-marketing-program Mon, 26 Feb 2018 21:16:25 GMT
What a Spring! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2017/5/what-a-spring I’ve been meaning to publish new info for some time, but so many great things have been happening with DSP that I’ve managed to keep putting it off.  The fact is, if I have a photo shoot to do or images in the studio to edit, I simply don’t make time to sit down to write one of these little missives.  But I have a little time before the season takes off in earnest, so I thought I’d do a quick run-thru on what’s been up here at DSP, and share with you some exciting news about what’s in store this summer.

I had the pleasure of flying to Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona in April to shoot a few Marriott properties.  One of my favorite courses, Ambiente, at JW Marriott’s Camelback Golf Club, has fully grown in so I was asked to capture a few new images of the signature holes to go along with the full collection I shot prior to its opening in 2013.  What a gorgeous Jason Straka-designed course!  I also had the opportunity to photograph the Faldo Course at the Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott’s Desert Ridge Resort, a course that hosts an LPGA Event each year.  This photo shoot was an afterthought, and the client only asked to have one hole shot.  It became a 30 image package, though, after I got carried away and photographed the entire back nine.  I presented my friends and clients at Marriott with a large number of images and they decided they wanted them all.  I love Marriott!

Along with the golf shooting, I also did some architectural photography at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains and Marriott’s Old Towne Suites in Scottsdale.  All in all, it was a great trip.  If Terri Worthington and the folks at Marriott were any nicer, my head would explode!

As anyone who knows me is aware, I’ve resisted getting into drone photography.  I love the solitude of my on-course work, and I love the quality of the images my Nikon D810's help me produce, so there were two things keeping me from dipping my toes into droneville.  First, I needed a drone that allowed single operator handling of both the drone and the camera.  And second, I needed a drone with a good enough camera to enable me to provide my clients with quality images.  The DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ fills both requirements, so I have spent this Spring learning how 1) to keep my Phantom out of the trees and 2) to take good photos from overhead.  And even though I’ve shunned the idea of drone shooting for years, I’m finding that it’s a lot of fun!  Go figure.  So, from now on, Drones ’R’ Us!


Now that May has arrived, my year really gets underway.  As you read this, I’m in North Carolina.  My first stop was at Quail Hollow, in Charlotte, the highly regarded PGA Tour stop and this year's host of the PGA Championship.  I'm really looking forward to spending time on this great course. 

Then it's on to Leland, North Carolina to shoot the new Rick Robbins-designed course at Compass Pointe.  Rick is a great designer, who has spent most of his career working in China.  He’s the man whose courses I photographed a couple of years ago in Beijing and in Wuhan.  He’s also the man who designed one of my favorite courses in the Southeast... Canyon Ridge, in Rising Fawn, Georgia.  So I’m heading to North Carolina with a smile, confident that I’m going to be photographing two exceptional properties!

When I return to Atlanta, I’ll be doing some aerials for reference purposes for the Bobby Jones Golf House project.  I’ll also be shooting some new images for the great folks at East Lake… both on East Lake Golf Club and at Charlie Yates, the nearby executive course run by East Lake.


This is where the fun kicks into hyperdrive.  On June 12th, I’m flying to Hong Kong to spend two weeks photographing The Hong Kong Golf Club, one of the oldest golf club’s in Asia.  I’ll be shooting their 3 championship courses, their par 3, nine holer and two clubhouses.  I can’t express how happy I am to be returning to Asia.  I guess I’ll have to show my gratitude to Ian Gardner and his team at the club by providing them with the best images possible!  Stay tuned.  I’ll probably devote the next newsletter to this trip alone. And there will be stories!

(Dave Sansom Photography) ambiente arizona compass pointe dave sansom desert ridge florida golf course photography hong kong golf club marriott naples quail hollow rick robbins scottsdale tiburon troon wildfire https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2017/5/what-a-spring Fri, 05 May 2017 13:20:15 GMT
It's a Resort Course. No, Wait! It's a Private Club. What? No! It's a Public Course! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2017/2/its-a-resort-course-no-wait-it-s-a-private-club-what-no-it-s-a-public-course

TIBURÓN GOLF CLUB, in Naples, Florida is not, as the title suggests, schizophrenic.  This Troon-managed facility is doing quite nicely at offering a great product to all kinds of golfers.

It's a Resort Course.

As part of the Ritz Carlton resort, Tiburón offers resort guests two world class, Greg Norman designed golf courses.  So folks vacationing in South Florida's premier golf destination can enjoy the kind of golf normally afforded only to members of exclusive clubs.

It's a Private Club.

Troon has come up with an ingenious way to offer a quality, private club experience to its members by reserving play on one of its two courses for members each day.  The course that's available to members reverses each day, so members have access to both courses, while still having the luxury of playing a great course that's not backed up with heavy play.

It's a Public Course.

Local golfers or visitors to Naples also have access to Tiburón, without having to stay at the Ritz Carlton or being members of the club.  Public golf is available each day on the course not designated as Private that day.  The only restriction is that golfers teeing off before noon must use caddies.  So, with caddy fees and green fees, it's not necessarily a cheap round of golf, but the value is there.  

Both The Gold Course and The Black Course are beautifully designed and wonderfully maintained by Director of Agronomy, Jeff Cathey and his excellent team.  And Troon's management, as always, is excellent.  So whether one plays as a guest at the resort, a member or as a regular visitor the experience that Tiburón Golf Club offers is exceptional.

While I didn't arrive at Tiburón as a golfer, my experience as a Troon photographer and the resulting photo shoot were as good as it gets.  Ricky Potts, the new Marketing Director, went out of his way to get me up to speed on the layout when I arrived and then stepped aside to let me free-range it (my favorite way of working) for the next few days.  The Ritz Carlton, as one would expect, was wonderful, as well.  

One issue that often comes up during a photo shoot is my wish for solitude at dawn.  This wish isn't just because I'm a card-carrying recluse, but more because maintenance crews driving all over a hole where I'm set up to capture the sunrise can be more than a little troublesome.  But Jeff Cathey's team could not have been more accommodating, staying away from my dawn locations until I was ready to move on.  The result was a collection of the best pre-dawn thru sunrise images I've ever captured.


(Dave Sansom Photography) best golf photographer dave sansom private club professional golf course photographs public golf resort golf tiburón top golf photographer troon golf https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2017/2/its-a-resort-course-no-wait-it-s-a-private-club-what-no-it-s-a-public-course Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:08:07 GMT
Full Circle - A Return to The Waterfall Club https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2016/1/full-circle---a-retu In 2006 The Waterfall Club, in the North Georgia mountains, was the first golf course I ever photographed, and last Summer I returned to photograph this beautiful golf course, designed by Scott W. Pool, to give it another go.  

My first taste of golf course photography came courtesy of Scott Pool, who was introduced to me by mutual friend, Jack Sauers, as the “best golf course designer you never heard of”.  At the time, Scott was building two courses for Killearn, south of Atlanta… Eagles Brooke and Durham Lakes.  I was designing web sites, and Scott hired me to build one web site for his golf course design business and a second for GreenScan 3D, his revolutionary LIDAR scanning service for the golf industry.  

Honestly, I can't recall whether Scott asked me to photograph his courses as part of our web development agreement or whether I sold him on the idea.  But I had a camera... my sole qualification... and an interest.  And that's how my golf course photography career began.  Not a bad thing to have such a beautiful property as my first subject.  I took photos of the courses under construction, and I took my camera along when Scott and I visited Waterfall to play golf.  As to the photos… I did everything wrong, but I loved taking the photos and working with the images in Photoshop was fascinating to me. 

From the time I decided that golf course photography was my sweet spot, I’ve wanted to go back to Waterfall with professional equipment and a much-improved skill set.  So when I was contacted by Rob Hewlett, one of the clubs owners, about shooting Waterfall, I was all in.  This really is one of the most scenically beautiful properties in the Southeast.  And the course, itself, is spectacular.  Add to that the fact that superintendent, Ian Murphy, and his team are taking great care of the course, and the result was a great collection of images.  Many thanks to Jason LeBlanc, Club Manager, and his entire team for a great visit to a wonderful club. 

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses marketing north georgia photography rabun county sunrise the waterfall club waterfall https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2016/1/full-circle---a-retu Wed, 06 Jan 2016 13:29:10 GMT
It’s Time to Stop Apologizing for Golf https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/11/it-s-time-for-golf-to-stop-apologizing Golf is a sport of the wealthy.  Golf gobbles up resources, especially water.  Pesticides on golf courses are poisoning the earth.  Yada yada yada.  How many times have you, as someone working in this wonderful industry, felt duty-bound to apologize for your involvement in it?  Well, stop it!  You have nothing to apologize for!

Clearly, this isn’t a forum for social commentary… I’m a photographer, for heaven’s sake!  But the current political and cultural climates of "haves" versus "have nots", of "victims" and "victimizers" has so skewed folks’ perspective that in some circles… especially in environmentalist circles… golf is seen as a villain and golf’s use of land and resources is criticized as the thoughtless pursuit of a group of out-of-touch rich people responsible for drought, global warming and poverty.  The environmentalist war on our industry is not new, and it won’t be going away any time soon. 

In a typical mindless rant, an article on GreenBiz.com in March of 2011 begins, “It will come as no surprise that golf courses are not particularly sustainable. In addition to taking up a large amount of resources and real estate that could be put to more productive or even more ecosystem-beneficial uses, golf courses can often be found in already water-stressed areas, adding insult to injury, from an environmental standpoint.”  Not surprisingly, there is no solid research to back up this theory, but there really doesn’t need to be, since the green movement is seen by many as pure, and motivated only by concern for Mother Earth.  Say it enough times and it becomes true, right?  Not so fast, Spanky.  Let’s set aside the jingoistic “golf is bad for Gaia” ranting and look at some real information.

As concerns water usage, James T. Snow, former National Director of the USGA’s Green Section, has said: “The industry has taken a multifaceted approach to the problem, including the development of 1) new grass varieties that use less water or can tolerate poor quality water; 2) new technologies that improve the efficiency of the irrigation system; 3) "best management practices" in golf course maintenance that result in less water use; 4) alternative water sources that reduce or eliminate the use of potable water; 5) golf course design concepts that minimize the area maintained with grasses that require considerable use of water; and 6) programs that educate golf course superintendents and other water users about opportunities for ongoing water conservation.”  And Snow doesn’t even address the fact that grass gobbles up carbon dioxide and generates oxygen in return.  Or that water used by a golf course doesn’t simply vanish, but rather is filtered by the earth as it returns to the aquifer, remaining in the ecosystem for further use by anyone who needs it.  The USGA has done a wonderful job of research into responsible resource usage in the golf industry, and numerous publications on the subject are readily available for anyone interested in the subject. 

But it’s not just greenies, and it’s not just in the western world that golf is under siege.  In China, golf’s use of water is used by the government as a reason for limiting… and even stopping… further development.  When I was in Beijing last year, I was told that the regional government had raised water rates for golf courses by a factor of 40.  Yikes.  How do you spell, “going out of business?”  The golf course in Beijing I was photographing, though… a wonderful, award-winning Rick Robbins design… demonstrably helps the environment, collecting and distributing all its own water, and removing 100,000 tons of dust annually from Beijing’s atmosphere.  So tell me again how golf is bad for the environment!?

I could ramble on… and often do… but for now, let me simply say that the next time someone criticizes our industry, or your involvement in it, don’t feel like you need to explain yourself.  And don’t share any pithy rejoinders about what they can do with their uninformed opinions.  Simply smile.  And take your frustration out on your Titleist next time you tee off!  It’ll be a lot more productive.



(Dave Sansom Photography) china dave sansom fertilizer golf golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses resources rick robbins water https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/11/it-s-time-for-golf-to-stop-apologizing Thu, 05 Nov 2015 15:00:00 GMT
The Many Hats of The Golf Course Architect https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/11/the-many-hats-of-the-golf-course-architect Of all the professionals I work with in the golf industry, the ones I find most impressive are the golf course architects.  Nobody has more hats to wear.  A golf course architect is a visionary, a counselor, an artist, an engineer, a salesman, an agronomist, a developer, a landscape designer, an urban designer and more.  Frankly, the overwhelming set of skills these folks must have in order to succeed in a very difficult business makes me want to take a nap!  But the work they do also makes me wake up every morning with a giant smile, knowing I get to photograph the wonderful landscapes they design.

One of the great benefits of my cushy job is that I have the opportunity to see and walk the work of so many different designers and course architects.  These folks are my heroes.  They’re the ones who trudged over mountains, thru forests, across deserts and even dumps… shaping the most challenging landscapes into golf courses that are a walk in the park for the rest of us.  They’re the ones who push the limits of design, sometimes squeezing 250 acres of golf course into 180 acres of land… sometimes reclaiming wasted land to create something even God didn’t see. 


Bob Cupp’s work with Tom Kite at Liberty National Golf Club, in Jersey City, New Jersey, is a study in “How the Heck Did They Do That?”.  The property, situated on the water across from Manhattan just 600 yards from The Statue of Liberty, was formerly a toxic dump. It took 14 years to cap the dump and bring the new course to fruition, but Cupp and Kite created a stunningly beautiful garden spot that is now one of the host courses for The Barclays Championship. Cupp also recently completed a restoration of the golf course at Glen Arven Country Club, in Thomasville, Georgia. Glen Arven was one of the first 5 golf courses built in the United States and is a club… and a course… with an incredibly rich history. In its 120 years, little adjustments had been made so many times that the course had lost its original character.  Enter Bob Cupp.  Problem solved. Genius.

Rick Robbins, one of the busiest designers in China, transformed a neglected property in Beijing into a stunningly beautiful golf course at Yintai Hongeye Golf Club. Along with being gorgeous, Yinhong No. 6 is fully sustainable and removes thousands of tons of dust each year from Beijing’s atmosphere.  Beauty AND brains!  How do they do it?  It’s totally inspiring. 

Another of my favorite architects is Jason Straka, of Fry Straka Global Golf Design.  Due to the current state of golf, most of Jason’s work would be classified as “renovation”, but renovation doesn’t come close to describing what he’s been doing with projects like Ambiente, at JW Marriott’s Camelback Resort in Scottsdale, and more recently at The Oaks Club, in Osprey, Florida. With the completion of Ambiente, in 2013, Straka transformed a property known locally as The Dog Bone into a world class golf course and has made Camelback a legitimate golf destination.  I shot Jason's recent renovation of The Oaks Club’s Heron Course in November, and it’s stunning!

Long before I met him, Bill Bergin was another of my favorites. I love his original work, but like most others in his field, renovation is the order of the day, and he’s leaving a trail of gorgeous renos and very happy clients in his wake.  

The designers I’ve mentioned so far have become friends in recent years, but I photograph the work of many designers I’ve never met.  Naturally, as have most golf course photographers, I’ve shot courses designed by Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus,  Donald Ross and many more.  And I’m often completely amazed at what these folks do.  I’ve praised the work of golf course superintendents before… their dedication and hard work makes my job so easy… but architects are something entirely different.  Whether a property is untouched forest or toxic wasteland, former cornfield or apple orchard, somehow they see something the rest of us can’t even imagine.  Maybe I need to add “magician” to their skill sets!

In spite of what seemed to be a near-terminal downturn several years ago, golf is rebounding.  Some might say it’s the economy turning around.  Or that the uptick is to be expected, with many golf properties on the market for pennies on the dollar in recent years.  But  I believe a key factor is the amazing work of the men and women who keep creating golf landscapes that are simply too beautiful not to support.  So, to all you guys who are creating and renovating the wonderful properties we all get to play, and that I get to photograph, Thank You.  I believe I speak for a majority of golfers when I say, your work enriches my life more than I can say.  

(Dave Sansom Photography) ambiente bill bergin bob cupp dave sansom golf golf course architects golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses jason straka liberty national golf club marketing rick robbins https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/11/the-many-hats-of-the-golf-course-architect Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:19:09 GMT
A Magical Morning at East Lake Golf Club https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/a-magical-morning-at-east-lake-golf-club East Lake Golf Club, in Atlanta, has been on my Bucket List of courses I’d love to shoot for some time, and this month I had the privilege of crossing it off that list.  East Lake’s ad agency, tasked with revamping their web site and other aspects of their marketing communications package, went on a search for a photographer, and Bingo!  My name came up, along with two other golf course shooters.  When the dust had settled, with the recommendation of the ad agency, I was given the project.  Happy camper alert! 

A Very Special Place

I appreciate and enjoy all my client golf clubs. But East Lake is something very special.  It has a long and storied history and now it's home to the PGA Tour's Tour Championship. What a resumé!

If you have followed my ramblings at all, you know I'm crazy about this work I do.  It's a joy to spend my time on great golf courses with my camera gear and in my studio, massaging images into stories that hopefully communicate something of the love I feel for these exceptional landscapes. The East Lake shoot was all that and more.

Established in 1904, it’s the oldest golf course in Atlanta, and it was the home course of Bobby Jones.  The original course designer was Tom Bendelow, but his course was redone in 1913 by Donald Ross.  There were many years of glory, most of which had to do with Bobby Jones and his successes, and then years of decline as the area around the club deteriorated.  In 1994, after East Lake was purchased by a charitable foundation with the intent of restoring the entire community, Rees Jones was engaged to restore the Donald Ross design.  And what a masterful job he did.

In case you haven’t noticed, I was fully on board for this project.  The project began very nicely, with a good dawn shoot the first day, followed by a decent afternoon session.  But on the second morning, a front blew in from the West and the light turned completely magical.  The resulting images are some of my best.  And overall, I believe the collection is the best I’ve done to date.  But you be the judge.  You can see a collection of my favorites HERE.

I want to offer a special thanks to Chad Parker and Caroline McGill, at Eastlake, for making me feel so welcome.  Golf Course Superintendent, Ralph Kepple, deserves a big thanks for making my job so easy by keeping the course in spectacular condition.  To Tom Bigelow, of Bigelow Advertising... I sincerely appreciate your recommending me to the club.  And finally, a big thanks to Cody Rogers, Bigelow Advertising’s Art Director, who found me on the internet and brought me to Tom’s attention. 

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom east lake golf golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses photography private golf club sunrise https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/a-magical-morning-at-east-lake-golf-club Fri, 05 Jun 2015 07:45:00 GMT
Order Your 2016 Sports Illustrated Golf Wall Calendar Today! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/order-your-2016-sports-illustrated-golf-wall-calendar-today Sports Illustrated 2016 Golf Wall CalendarSports Illustrated 2016 Golf Wall CalendarThe 2016 Sports Illustrated Golf Wall Calendar features one of my images of Crooked Stick Golf Club on the cover. This is another one of those steps along the road that, on some levels, don't mean much... but on other levels, mean a lot.  Especially to a geezer golf course photographer.  The cover image for the upcoming 2016 Sports Illustrated Golf Wall Calendar is one of my shots of Crooked Stick Golf Club, in Carmel, Indiana.  I haven't seen the calendar yet, since it hasn't been released, but the club submitted two images.  With 16 months of photos, maybe...  We'll see.  Cross your fingers!  Write your congressman!

In the meantime, you can pre-order the calendar online, at Amazon.  Somehow, I don't think it'll offer any stiff competition to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar, but it's still a nice boost to the geriatric ego.  Thought I'd share

(Dave Sansom Photography) carmel crooked stick dave sansom dawn early morning golf golf course photographer indiana photography sports illustrated https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/order-your-2016-sports-illustrated-golf-wall-calendar-today Thu, 04 Jun 2015 18:37:46 GMT
What's A "Typical" Photo Shoot? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/whats-a-typical-photo-shoot What's A "Typical" Photo Shoot

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This post was originally published over two years ago, but as my techniques and skill sets have evolved, so has my workflow, both on the course and in the studio.  So it seemed reasonable to me to edit the original to reflect those changes, though it didn't make sense to begin from scratch.  But back to the question, "What's a Typical Photo Shoot?"

The short answer:  There’s no such armadillo.  With so many different kinds of golf courses, so many distinctly different sets of weather conditions, and differing light conditions in different latitudes at different times of year, “typical” changes from day to day.  Plus, over time my techniques evolve.  Things change.  But there are some constants.  Sort of.

I have two rules for photography.  1)  Always show up, and 2) Turn around.  They're pretty simple to understand.  

1.  Sometimes the best image... often one that comes as a surprise simply as a matter of being in the right place at the right time... lasts only a few seconds or minutes before shooting conditions deteriorate into gray boredom.  So when a shoot is scheduled, I'll be there. 
2.  It's easy to get drawn into a scene and in the throes of focused tunnel vision, to ignore what's going on outside the focal area.  For instance, sometimes a sunrise is a disappointment as I focus on the rising sun, waiting for the angles of light to produce some morning magic.  At that same moment, though, I've often found the colors in the sky to be spectacular away from the sun.  Magic happens.  I never know.  Until I turn around.

Beyond those two rules, I have a typical schedule that I stick to on most occasions.  I show up on site the first scheduled day, early- to mid-afternoon, meet the folks I've been dealing with over the phone or via email and get out on the course to shoot my reference images.  (I snap the shutter so many times - usually about 250 to 300 times per hour - that I need help in the studio sometimes to identify a given hole.)  Then, about 2 hours before sunset that first day, I begin shooting in earnest and continue until the light is gone.  The next morning, if access is available to me, I'm typically on the course about 45 minutes before sunrise to capture the sunrise.  That session usually lasts until the light goes flat.  Depending on the time of year and the location, that could be 9am or 11am.  The light is the determining factor.  Depending on how many images my client is looking for, and the quality of the shooting conditions, those two sessions may be all that's required.  If more time is needed, that schedule holds for the remainder of my stay.  Also, since I often am asked to do some architectural or resort shooting, I will schedule those subjects right after or just before the on-course seasons.  Obviously, though, I don't duplicate my reference image session.  The good news for my clients is that since my rates are based on a per-project rate and not a day rate, if additional shooting time is required, all I need is lodging and meals.  No additional fees are assessed.

For local shoots, here in the Metro Atlanta area, I schedule one day at a time because there are no travel issues and I can select the best day to be on the course.  For out of town work, I prefer... but don't require... to schedule at least 3 days on a property, so both the client and I can be confident that I'll have ample time with ideal shooting conditions to capture the number and quality of images we both expect.  I have a terrible fear of flying to the wilds of Canada for a one day shoot and being washed out by gray, nasty weather, when what my client needs are great shots of a beautiful golf course!  What a waste of my time and my client's resources!

A one day shoot (two shooting sessions) will usually result in 40 to 50 images for my client to review.

How Many Photos, and For What Uses?

When I plan a photo shoot, the first question I ask is how are the new images to be used?  A pro photographer (please insert my name here!) can shoot to meet a client's specific needs and keep costs under control.  So whether only a few images of signature holes are needed, or a complete collection of images is required, I can schedule the proper amount of time to build a collection to meet those specific needs.

Next, I want to schedule my visit properly, so as not to interfere with scheduled events, such as an annual aerification, a Member/Guest tournament, or the presence of PGA Tour crews constructing viewing stands and hospitality areas.  And then there are seasonal issues.  Perhaps capturing early Spring color or Fall foliage is important to you and your members.  Or maybe that early summer green is the goal.  I'm easy.  I enjoy my relationships with my clients, and am happy to return multiple times during the year to build a year 'round catalog of images.  I see beauty in golf courses at every time of the year, so let me know what works best for you, and I'll schedule accordingly.

A Day On The Course…

My typical shooting schedule allows me to avoid having any impact on play.  My goal is for your golfers to not even know I've been on the course.  I'm on your property before the sun, and shoot for 2 to 3 hours in the morning.  Then I'm back very late in the afternoon and shoot until almost dark.  My goal is to avoid golfers altogether, but if you need images that include activity on the course, I can capture those images without interfering with play.  

Once my onsite work is completed, I schedule studio processing and will let you know when to expect to see your collection.  Since Spring and Fall are my busiest times of year, my schedule is heavily weighted toward travel and shooting from May to July, and again from late September thru November, so I am not always able to turn your photos around right away.  I always try to be flexible, though, so if you have a photo emergency, please let me know and I'll work hard to accommodate.

...Becomes a Week In The Studio

Why, you ask, does it take so long for me to process my photos?  After all, Walmart can turn your snapshots around in a day, right?  My photographs are what I refer to as "Hybrid HDR" photos.  Some are full HDR images.  Some make use of techniques I've developed that mimic the added depth and detail HDR offers, while using a single exposure.  

First, I shoot in Camera Raw, a format that contains all the data captured by my camera's sensor, but looks fairly awful, straight out of the camera.  (Most amateurs shoot Jpegs, a format that is processed in the camera and does not have all the original information your camera captured.)  Also, many of my images… especially those shot during the transition periods of sunrise and sunset… are produced by blending multiple exposures of the same image.  The result is an image with a wider dynamic range than is possible from a single exposure, plus greater depth and detail.  I don't want to get too technical, but by combining multiple exposures I can hold the detail in both highlights and shadows, and can produce photos that come much closer to the full range of light you see with your eyes.

Here's an example.  The first two rows, below, show a set of 5 exposures of the same image.  These are Camera Raw images, so they're pretty boring.  The larger photo, below the 5 exposures, is the final image.  This process of blending the tone maps of multiple images, tweaking white balance and color, as well as bringing out the detail and depth and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour to complete.  There is no automated process that will produce the images I'm looking for.  Each image is produced individually.


My Studio Workflow

The first thing I do in the studio is to go thru the entire shoot to identify the best images, and those I think will show your course at its best.  A normal day on the golf course results in somewhere between 1000 and 1500 snaps of the shutter.  But remember… I shoot multiple exposures of each setup, so a day's shooting really only yields between 350 and 500 images from which I select only the best to process.  I usually find that I'm pleased with 30% to 40% of my shots, so your collection could be as few as 30 images or as many as 100 images per day of shooting.

When your collection is complete, I will send you a link to a private, online gallery so you can select the images you wish to use.  Based on your photo package, you then may identify the 20, 30 or 65 images you want.  Since I always shoot more images than you have purchased, you may also add images at very reasonable rates if you find the package you purchased doesn't cover all the bases.  

Once your final selections are made, I post two sets of images for you to download from my Dropbox account.  One set consists of 300PPI, full resolution images for print use.  The other set is delivered in internet-standard, 72PPI resolution.  Both sets are delivered in the sRGB color space unless you have other requirements. 

If this article has raised more questions than it's answered, please don't hesitate to contact me any time at 678.362.5592, or EMAIL ME.  I'd love to chat with you about your project.


(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom dawn exclusive clubs golf golf course photographer golf course photography great golf courses photography private clubs sunrise sunset https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/6/whats-a-typical-photo-shoot Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:25:35 GMT
A Double in Birmingham https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/5/a-double-in-birmingham In golf, the term “Double” doesn’t usually suggest a happy result.  But my double at Birmingham, Alabama’s Greystone Golf and Country Club was a source of great happiness.  In early May, I had the pleasure of spending several days there, working with a group of wonderful people, photographing two great golf courses.  

The Founders Course (right) is a Bob Cupp/Hubert Green design that was completed in 1991, and for many years hosted the Champions Tour’s Bruno’s Memorial Classic.  Cupp created a challenging track that was playable for all golfers, and it was a pleasure to photograph.  In 2000, The Legacy Course (below) was opened, making Greystone Alabama’s first and only 36 hole equity club.  The Rees Jones design is more open than Founders, and features zoysia fairways.  I love zoysia fairways.  

Next year The Tradition, The Champions Tour's first major of the year moves the short distance from Shoal Creek to Greystone, and will remain there until at least 2018.  It’s a worthy venue, and it was a pleasure to spend some time there, capturing images of one of Alabama’s finest private clubs.  I want to thank David Porter, Ashley Fuentes and Steve Smith, along with their entire staff, for making me feel like one of the family.

(Dave Sansom Photography) alabama birmingham bob cupp dave sansom golf golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses greystone hubert green marketing photography rees jones sunrise https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/5/a-double-in-birmingham Thu, 28 May 2015 12:04:53 GMT
A Farewell to Crooked Stick https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/5/a-farewell-to-crooked-stick In June, at the end of the school year in Indianapolis, my wife is going into retirement mode and we’re taking the Sansom’s Geezer Adventure off the road.  For the first time in 4 years, we’ll have just one residence… our home in Atlanta.  It’s been an interesting time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s time.  

Indianapolis is a nice town, with nice people and little traffic.  Lots to recommend it.  But visually, Indy is not inspiration central.  I know there are photographers who can dig the beauty out of Indy, but I’m not one of them.  Except, that is, for Crooked Stick Golf Club, in Carmel.  Tony Pancake and his team at Crooked Stick were my saving grace, creatively, during our time in Indy.  I met Tony when I first moved to town and was making the rounds of the golf clubs, saying hello to everyone in the industry I could get in front of.  He was very welcoming, but he had purchased a huge number of photographs of the course just two years before.  No luck there.

For some reason, in the Spring of our second year Tony invited me to do some shooting at the club.  Then again in the Fall.  And he began buying my photos and selling them in the golf shop.  Doing business with him has always been relaxed and comfortable... I think because we both love that property, and that shared affection gives us common ground.

So it was only right that the final day I was in town, in April, before I moved most of my Geezer Adventure Gear south to Atlanta I did one final shoot at The Stick.  Since my last full shoot at the club, Pete Dye had directed a significant modification of the par 3 17th hole, adding a lake from tee to green that completely altering the character of the hole.  Jake Gargasz, the Superintendent, did a masterful job on the lake, and the change is remarkable.  The bad news is, the images weren't exactly what the club was looking for.  It was too early in the Spring for the newly planted grasses to have come up and for the leaves to have moved beyond the “tiny, bright green new spring leaf” stage.  The good news is, they want to document this great new modification when it is ready for prime time.  So I’ll have to go back up to shoot it again.  Life is so hard!  :)  In the meantime, here’s my favorite of the three images I completed of the 17th!


(Dave Sansom Photography) carmel course dave sansom golf course photographer golf course photography golf courses indiana indianapolis marketing pete dye photography tony pancake https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/5/a-farewell-to-crooked-stick Thu, 28 May 2015 11:48:26 GMT
In Praise of The Golf Course Superintendent https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/3/in-praise-of-the-golf-course-superintendent

In our industry there are many folks, male and female, who contribute to the immense pleasure we all share when we step onto a fine golf course. Clearly, the owners are where everything begins. Many are truly visionary, and all have the entrepreneurial wherewithal to finance these risky enterprises we call golf clubs. Then there are the golf course architects, who turn the owner’s vision into reality, moving thousands of tons of earth… or not… specifying grasses, sand, shrubbery, trees, railroad ties, boulders, waterfalls, drainage and sprinkler systems, and anything else their imaginations conjure up during the design process, to create a playground unlike any other. Golf courses, after all, are not like football fields with very specific parameters that must be met to satisfy league regulations. The PGA Golf Professionals are the front men and women, establishing and supporting the culture around their courses. They teach, they encourage and they welcome members and guests, creating an overall great experience for their clientele.

But the one group who has more to do than anyone else with our day-to-day enjoyment of the wonderful game of golf is, in my opinion, golf course superintendents. Those lush fairways and fast, true greens are the result of the superintendent's careful attention to every detail of a course’s condition. Those rhododendrons that usher in the Spring with brilliant colors... the azaleas that allow us to fantasize that we’re walking the fairways of Augusta National... the ability of our home course to withstand August heat and not just survive, but thrive… those things don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of a superintendent’s deep knowledge of horticulture, a genuine love for the work and a dedication matching that of any professional in any field.

I was in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month to photograph the Padre Course at JW Marriott’s Camelback Resort, a course that was not impressive just 16 months before, when I was there to shoot Ambiente, their new, world-class Hurdzan Fry/Jason Straka design.  As Ambiente was opening, Marriott brought in a new superintendent, and his impact on Padre’s condition is little short of stunning.  Hats off to Aaron Thomas, and to all the golf course superintendents who help make golf such a great adventure!  

Recently, over breakfast, I was discussing my high regard for the folks who tend the golf courses of the world with a good friend and highly regarded golf course architect.  His comment to me on the subject was, “Hell, they can make or break us!”  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Think about it.  A decently designed course with great grasses, pristine bunkers and smooth, true greens can provide a great golfing experience.  But a fabulous design by a highly qualified designer, with poorly tended fairways, grass growing in the bunkers and greens with weeds redirecting  otherwise good putts can be anything but a great experience.

That superintendents are overlooked or unnoticed by so many who enjoy the game is baffling to me.  Sure, golf course superintendents are publicly praised from time to time.  During a rain delay at a PGA event, an announcer may fill a few seconds of otherwise dead air with a nod to the work of the superintendent and his crew.  But during the PGA Tour’s swing through Florida this Spring, more alligators made it on camera than golf course superintendents.  I’ve also heard “Mashed Potatoes!” screamed from the crowd more often that I’ve heard someone actually talk with a superintendent about the work it takes to keep his golf course is such amazing condition.  Makes no sense.

When I’m shooting a course, and especially when I’m in the studio making decisions about how to edit a particular image, I always have the superintendent’s point of view in mind.  My rule of thumb when cleaning up an image is, “If I were the super, what would I do?  Would I leave that bare spot unrepaired?  Would I want the tee box chewed up like my German Shepherd’s rawhide toy?"  I don’t clean up elements of a golf course that are part of its character, but I do make an effort to fix minor issues the chief gardener would fix if he were with me on the photo shoot.

The superintendent’s dedication is evident in his work schedule.  He’s always up early, and often out late.  His vocation is not a nine-to-fiver.  I seldom see a golf course owner out and about before sunrise when my day of shooting is getting underway.  And the head golf professional doesn’t roll in until well after the sun has hit the ground.  The outside staff is often on hand to give me a cart, but not always.  Sometimes I spend my first hour hiking around, looking for sunrise shots and waiting for the cart team to show up.  At one very well known club in North Carolina, I was once given a key to the front gate so I could get on the property and help myself to a cart, because nobody else would be there as early as I would be.  (That morning, happily, I captured one of my best sunrises.)  But the superintendent and his crew are always out before the sun, prepping their course for the day’s play.  They’re raking bunkers, mowing fairways, cutting and rolling greens, and on and on.  It never ends!   

I have great respect for all golf course superintendents, at facilities of all kinds, but some stand out.  At Camelback, the aforementioned Aaron Thomas is one of them.  Mark Esoda, at Atlanta Country Club is, too.  Billy Dearman, formerly at Wade Hampton and now at Wexford Plantation does great work.  Rob Roy, at The River Club in Suwanee, Georgia does an amazing job.  At Peachtree Golf Club, William Shirley is one of the best.  Crooked Stick’s Jake Gargasz is another.  And at Liberty National Golf Club, Greg James is a genius.  I could go on, and hopefully those superintendents I’ve failed to mention will forgive me for not including them in this brief list, but the scope of this article won’t allow me to list every golf course superintendent whose work I respect.  There are just too many of them.

I guess, if this article has a purpose (and I’d like to think it does!) it’s to highlight the work of the folks who get way too little attention, and who deserve so much respect.  The next time you’re teeing off, thank the superintendent for everything he or she (there must be some lady superintendents, right?) does to make your experience a good one.  And the next time you feel a desire to tell your club’s chief horticulturist about those weeds behind the 12th tee, zip it.  He knows.  He’s got it on his list, and it’ll probably be taken care of before your next round.

(Dave Sansom Photography) camelback club course crooked druid golf hills jw marriott padre photography resort stick superintendent https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/3/in-praise-of-the-golf-course-superintendent Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:50:05 GMT
Magical Transitions https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/magical-transitions Sunrises and sunsets come in many forms, but whatever form they take and whatever location they grace with their unique beauty, they are my favorite times of the day.  Partially, it’s because I love the solitude… there are seldom any other folks around at that time of day, except of course, the maintenance crews on the golf courses I photograph.  But even without the solitary aspect of shooting a sunrise, it’s still my favorite time of day. 


At sunrise, everything is new.  It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or last week.  It doesn’t matter what will happen later in the day.  For that brief time, everything is fresh, and the possibilities are limitless.


I think my deep affection for sunrise and what it reveals about my subjects is one of the reasons my work is different from that of other golf course photographers.  Every photographer knows the "Golden Hour"... that brief 30 to 60 minutes after sunrise and before sunset... is the best time for landscape photography. But for me, the richest, most beautiful time to shoot is the transition itself. It's a bit more challenging to capture the full spectrum of light and still hold the detail in the shadows, but the effort is well worth it. 


At sunrise, the sky becomes something larger than its usual role as negative space, source of sunlight or element of interest.  It becomes the dominant feature.  The sky is never as spectacular as it is at sunrise or sunset, and during that brief span of time it reveals a side of a landscape… or a golf course… that is unique to the instant the photograph is taken.  The landscape changes little from day to day.  The sunrise is as unique as a snowflake.  


If you are a fan of sunrises… even if you see very few of them… I think you might like my gallery, Magical Transitions. (http://galleries.davesansom.com/p574896719)   The gallery includes not only sunrises on golf courses, but also in national parks, state parks and farmland across the country. 

(Dave Sansom Photography) arizona beijing carolina china georgia golf courses hubei province indiana national parks north ohio south state parks sunrise sunset utah wuhan https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/magical-transitions Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:02:40 GMT
Snow at Crooked Stick https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/snow-at-crooked-stick I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent at Crooked Stick over the past year.  It’s a wonderful course, Tony Pancake and his staff are all great to work with and frankly, it’s a shining light of inspiration in an Indiana landscape somewhat short on visual appeal.  I like Indiana.  Nothing against it whatsoever.  But Utah, it's not.


I had a great set of photo shoots at Pete Dye’s lovely track last summer that resulted in an excellent collection, and late Fall shooting yielded some wonderful images (CLICK HERE FOR MY 50 FAVORITES).  I thought I was done for the year, but hold up there, Spanky!  When 6 inches of fresh snow fell on northern Indiana in early January, I had to saddle up to go see what photo options Crooked Stick had to offer.  Strangely, no one was around to get me a golf cart, so I took off hiking and spent two chilly but glorious hours roaming the front nine.  Most of the course is pretty flat, and the snow did a great job of hiding much of its character.  But 4, 5 and 6… especially 6… were exactly what I was looking for.  Most of the shots show a peaceful golf course resting under a heavy winter blanket, but my favorite images are shots that have nothing to do with golf.  That wonderful giant of a tree across the pond to the right of the 6th green is beautiful, whether it’s part of a golf course or not!


CLICK HERE to see the Crooked Stick Winter Gallery.


(Dave Sansom Photography) crooked stick dave sansom golf golf course in the snow pete dye private golf club tony pancake https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/snow-at-crooked-stick Thu, 05 Feb 2015 07:30:00 GMT
Is that a REAL photograph? Or is it Photoshopped? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/is-that-a-real-photograph-or-is-it-photoshopped On rare occasions, I get asked that question.  And every time I hear it, I’m somewhat nonplussed. It’s a legitimate question, I suppose, but at the same time it shows a lack of understanding of exactly what Photoshop is.  It’s simply a tool.  And in truth, almost every professional photographer working today uses Photoshop.  So by extension, practically every photo you see in a magazine, a book or on a web site these days has been “Photoshopped”.  In our industry, the exceptions are the golf course photos taken by golf course architects, superintendents, club members and club pros that go straight from camera to publisher.  But are they real?  They’ve come out of the owner’s camera as jpeg files, a format that has already been automatically processed by the camera’s built in firmware and software.  Contrast has been added, color has been enhanced and the camera has strained a gut attempting to rein in the dynamic range of the photo taken under the midday sun.  So even a “real” photograph has undergone some pretty extensive processing.



Photoshop is a software package that allows a photographer to adjust, enhance, clean up and generally improve a photograph.  It also allows one to completely change an image by removing, adding, replacing or significantly altering elements of the original image.  Composite images that include elements from multiple sources to create a “photograph” that never really existed are the most extreme examples of these capabilities.  I think, when someone asks if my images have been “Photoshopped”, it’s this more extreme side of the Photoshop equation to which they are referring.  The idea is, I suppose, that if a photograph has been altered beyond a certain point, it no longer is a legitimate photograph.  


As do most landscape photographers, I shoot in Camera Raw, an image format available in higher end cameras that provides all the information captured by a camera’s sensor, with no significant alteration or adjustment to that data.  When I’m shooting, I’m essentially gathering raw material.  Aside from the basics of composition, exposure and depth of field, it’s the work I do in the studio that makes one of my images one of “My” images. 



The basic items on the agenda when I begin work on an image are adjusting color and light, detail and contrast.  But I also do a significant amount of cleanup when editing a golf course image.  Putting myself in the shoes of the course superintendent, I repair divots on the tee boxes, in fairways and on the greens. Unsightly brown patches are repaired, and sometimes power lines are eliminated.  I don’t alter anything that’s part of a golf course’s basic character, but if it’s a temporary flaw… something a good superintendent would repair himself, if he were there… I take care of it.  I also will often remove out-of-bounds markers and rakes in and around bunkers.  They’re necessary in the field of play, but they add nothing to the photograph.  So I remove them, in the interest of creating the best photograph I can.






















The biggest change I ever make to a photograph is sky replacement, and I only do that as a last resort.  Sometimes the lighting is good and an image is strong, but the sky is boring.  If the sky detracts from the image, and I was unable to get the shot I wanted when conditions were good, I will replace it.  In the image below, I was very happy with most of this image from Yishan Golf Club, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China.  But during the one good day of light I had during my 6 days at Yishan, the the best image I could get of this hole just didn't pop.  Photoshop to the rescue!  Fortunately, I had photographed this sky earlier in the day at another location on the course, so it is an authentic, Yishan Golf Club sky!  And if I hadn’t just written this description, you would never have known it wasn’t exactly what I saw when I snapped the shutter!






















HDR photography is a controversial photographic technique I sometimes use, most often at sunrise or sunset, when the dynamic range of an image is too much for a single exposure to capture.  The controversy is more because of the poor handling of the technique by inexperienced practitioners of the craft, though, than because the technique itself is flawed.  Done properly, HDR processing is invisible.  You simply see richer color, greater depth and more detail at both ends of the light spectrum than a single image can capture.  HDR is a technique that requires shooting multiple exposures of the same image setup, which are then blended in the studio to greatly expand the dynamic range of an image.  I use this technique when I’m photographing sunrises and sunsets, especially when I’m shooting directly into the sun.  This image of Liberty National Golf Club required 9 exposures to capture the full range of light and color available for this predawn scene.  The unedited file on the left is the middle exposure of the 9 I shot.





















So is that a real photograph?  Or is it Photoshopped?  Damned if I know.  But I sure love doing it.  And I think I’ll continue to do so.


(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom editing techniques golf course golf course photography photography photoshop https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2015/2/is-that-a-real-photograph-or-is-it-photoshopped Wed, 04 Feb 2015 19:23:40 GMT
Faces of China https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/12/faces-of-china I seldom photograph people.  I'm not sure why, because when I do I enjoy doing it.  But I feel a bit like an intruder when I stick a camera in someone's face.

That being said, during my October trip to China there were too many wonderful faces to photograph, and I got some great images.  Some... like the portrait of Shu Yang, Deputy GM of Yishan Golf Club and two I shot of Zhong Hua, the young lady to the left, who worked in the hotel at Yishan Golf Club and came to my rescue numerous times as I attempted to communicate with her friends and coworkers... are thoughtful portraits of people I developed a genuine affection for.  Others... especially the ones of laborers on the golf course at Yinhong No. 6... were more like street photography, only without the street.

Anyway, I enjoyed taking these pictures immensely, and I hope you find them at least a little interesting!

You can see the entire gallery HERE.

(Dave Sansom Photography) arthur shu china dave sansom friends golf course photographer helpers laborers photography zhong hua https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/12/faces-of-china Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:31:58 GMT
Fall Shooting in China https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/12/fall-shooting-in-china Fall Shooting Features a Photo Trip to China!

2014 was already a great year, and Fall shooting was shaping up nicely, but everything changed on October 6th, when I received a note from golf course architect, Rick Robbins, saying he had an owner who wanted me to photograph his new golf course near Beijing.  Rick's note rocketed my Happy-O-Meter to an entirely new level, and was the starting gun for an amazing adventure.

It’s very unusual for an American photographer to be invited to China to shoot golf courses, so my two week trip to shoot Yinhong No. 6, near Beijing and Yishan Golf Club, in Wuhan, was not only a rarity, but also a bit of an honor.  The Chinese people could not have been nicer.  I found them to be incredibly warm and welcoming, and if I’d had a better time, my head would have exploded.  In fact, before I left Yishan Golf Club, the entire staff adopted me as part of the Yishan family, and I can’t wait to visit them again.  It was a great adventure, and it looks like it was not a one-up, but rather only the beginning of my relationship with golf in China.  Now, about those golf courses…

As you probably know, the golf business in China is in a state of confusion, as new government regulations have had a negative impact on golf course construction.  In Beijing, I was told the government has raised water prices for golf courses by a factor of 40, putting the futures of many existing courses in jeopardy.  The good news is that Rick’s sustainable design of Yinhong No. 6 not only conserves water, but has also had the effect of reducing pollution in Beijing!  His use of native grasses common to links courses will minimize water needs, and his design includes many ponds and collection areas throughout the course that should meet its water needs in all but the most extreme conditions.  In Wuhan, about 600 miles south of Beijing, the owners of Yishan Golf Club are also enjoying the benefits of Rick’s sustainable design, and they expressed no real concerns about government regulations.  In fact, they’re very happy that there are now clear guidelines about where, how and what kind of golf courses they can build.  They have more golf courses and communities planned, and feel as if the new regulations have freed them to move ahead with their plans.

Yinhong No. 6, Yintai Hongeye Golf Club, Near Beijing

Yinhong No. 6 was a great way to begin the trip.  I had an interpreter a few hours each day, and the menus in the club’s restaurant had pictures!  Yay!  I could eat!  And the food was very good.  I stayed in a “VIP Room” in the clubhouse because, when possible, I like to stay on property when I photograph a golf course.  I shoot at oddball times… pre-dawn, middle of the night, etc… so being able to simply walk outside and get to work suits me.  On multiple occasions, the general manager offered to put me up at a 5-star hotel just 15 minutes away, but though small, the accommodations in the clubhouse were fine, and the entire staff made me feel very welcome.  The skies when I arrived were what one would expect in Beijing… awful.  And they improved only slightly the second day.  But the third night I was there, the winds blew and cleared the air, giving me a great day for shooting.  You can see some of my favorite images HERE.  Then the haze returned, and it was time to head to Wuhan.

Yishan Golf Club, Wuhan, Hubei Province
Located in the central area of Wuhan on a beautiful property, Yishan Golf Club isn’t yet fully open, but it’s already hosted its first PGA Tour China Series event.  The stunning clubhouse won 1st Place in Golf, Inc’s 2014 Clubhouse of the Year competition.  And while I was there, the club hosted an event for Ferrari, which brought 4 of it’s cars to the club so members could test drive them thru the community.  In short, Yishan is no ordinary golf club.

The golf course is a different style course from any of the others in the region. The bunkers are much larger than normal and have been shaped to resemble those of the famous architect, Dr. Alastair McKenzie.  It’s a beauty.  The weather was rainy when I arrived in Wuhan, but on the third day, the sun rose on beautiful, bright skies and I had a great day of shooting.  I did manage to take an unplanned swim as I scrambled across a creek on some stepping stones to get a shot I wanted, but no equipment was damaged, so it was all good.  It was also wet.  And 45 degrees.  Brrrr.

A personal note.  I don't believe I've ever met a nicer group of people than those I met at Yishan Golf Club.  Arthur Shu, the Deputy General Manager, a woman from Human Resources who picked me up at the train station when I arrived and took me to the airport when I left, and Zhong Hua, a lovely girl who works in the hotel who helped me with translations many times, were the only people on the property who spoke English.  And that's in a staff of about 300.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.  I felt completely at home, and I was sad to leave.  To all of you at Yishan, thank you for your hospitality.  I look forward to seeing you again!

(Dave Sansom Photography) beijing china golf dave sansom golf golf course photographer golf course photography rick robbins sunrise wuhan yinhong no. 6 yishan golf club https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/12/fall-shooting-in-china Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:55:34 GMT
New Golf Course Shooting Packages Added https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/9/new-shooting-packages-added New Shooting Packages and Pricing Options

This Fall I’m adding 2 new shooting packages to make professional images of your golf course more affordable and simpler to obtain.   Along with these new shooting packages, I’m also offering two ways to purchase your images.  1.) A money-saving Flat Fee option and 2.) A risk-free See Before You Buy option.

Here’s How The Three Packages Work

The fees laid out in the chart below grant you unlimited, non-exclusive… and permanent… use of the images you purchase.  In other words, while you do not own the copyrights for the images, you may do anything you wish with them.  For each package, note the number of images I will provide.  This number is a minimum only, and your total may be greater.  And finally, for each package there are two purchase options… a “Flat Fee Buyout” option and a “See Before You Buy” option.

Flat Fee Buyout

This option gives you all the images I shoot for one flat fee.  This is by far the more cost-effective approach if you want more than just a few images.  In the chart below, you can see that the Flat Fee Buyout option costs much less, per-image, than the “See Before You Buy” option.  Also, because the number of images I provide may be greater than the minimum guaranteed number, the cost per image can be even lower.  

See Before You Buy

If you know in advance that you only need a few images, or if you wish to see finished images before you commit your resources, you may choose the “See Before You Buy” option for any of the shooting packages.  There are minimum purchase requirements for this option, listed in the chart below.  If you choose this option, you will be invoiced a $500 per day shooting fee immediately following the photo shoot.  HOWEVER, 100% of that shooting fee will be applied to your image purchase if you make your image selections within 45 days of my posting your images for review.  

NOTE: For all three shooting packages, an estimated travel expense invoice will be presented in advance and will be payable when I arrive for the photo shoot. If there are changes, such as added shooting days that require additional hotel nights or additional meals, those will be invoiced after the shoot. 


Example 1: You choose the Signature Package, and the See Before You Buy purchase option.  I will invoice you for estimated travel expenses prior to the shoot, and payment will be due upon my arrival at your club.  After the shoot, I will invoice you $500 per day for the actual photo shoot.  I will process your images and post them on my photo web site for you to review and make your image selections.  Assuming I complete the shoot in a day (2 shooting sessions), and you purchase only the minimum of 4 images, your total image purchase will be $1400, with the $500 shooting fee applying directly to that amount.  Your total cost will be $1400 plus travel expenses.  Your per-image cost for the three images is $350.

Example 2: You choose the Signature Package and the Flat Fee Buyout purchase option.  I will invoice you for estimated travel expenses prior to the shoot, and payment will be due upon my arrival at your club.  After the photo shoot, I will process your images (a minimum of 20), post them for review, and make them available for download in both high resolution and web ready formats.  You will be invoiced the Signature Package price of $2400 for the images.  Your per-image cost is $120 or less per image.

For more information, call me at 678.362.5592 or EMAIL ME at your convenience.


(Dave Sansom Photography) cost-effective dave sansom golf course photographer marketing photography https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/9/new-shooting-packages-added Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:47:39 GMT
First Impressions Matter https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/9/first-impressions-matter No Matter What You’re Selling, First Impressions Matter!

Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, IndianaNot too long ago, I did something I’ve intended to do for a long time.  I hired a professional photographer.  Bizarre, right?  But there’s a reason.  I needed a great head shot, and I don’t do people.  I photograph golf courses and landscapes.  So when a close friend told me her buddy, Bjoern Kommerell (a Los Angeles photographer who specializes in A-list actors and celebs) was coming to Atlanta, I booked a photo shoot with him.  And from the responses I’ve received, the investment in time and money may well be one of my best decisions this year.

At first glance, having a new head shot done may seem vain, but I believe that having the best marketing materials possible is important to my business.  And that’s also true for golf courses, resorts and golf communities all over the world. It’s surprising how many quality golf clubs use second rate images in their marketing materials!  In a very competitive golf and resort market, it’s good business to present your property in the best way possible.  Golfers looking for courses to play, resorts to visit, clubs to join, or communities in which to live do their initial searching on the internet, in magazines, books, brochures and on television.  And their first impressions are a result of… you guessed it… the photographs they see.

There are clubs… and I shoot some of them… that simply aren’t interested in marketing themselves.  They’re so highly regarded, so well known in certain circles, that they have no need to promote themselves.  And good for them!  (Fortunately, they have other needs for photos... tee gifts, awards, retail items, etc... so all is well in photo-land!)  But the vast majority of clubs are competing every day for members, for residents and for players.  Professional images... and the great first impressions they give... can make the difference between success and failure of a marketing program.

If the perceived cost of hiring a professional golf course photographer is an obstacle, I would submit that business lost due to poor marketing materials is an even greater cost.  Another problem clubs face… and one that can be tricky to deal with… occurs when a well-meaning member offers to photograph your property, explaining that his great new 24 megapixel camera is as good as what the pros use!  But the truth is, the most important piece of equipment any photographer works with resides between his ears.  Great equipment is available to everyone these days, but the ability to create great images is not.  Professionals will always have the edge because we are shooting all the time, and we’re constantly working to improve our skill sets.  We’re also aware of market trends, and are better equipped to provide images with that special “Wow” factor.

Remember, first impressions matter.  Spend a little time looking over your image library.  First ask yourself, “Are the images of my club current, or have there been any changes since they were taken?”  Second, and most importantly, “Is there a ‘Wow!’ factor to my images?  Or are they just pictures of golf holes?”  If the photos are not current, or if they’re missing that ‘Wow!’ factor, it’s time to call a pro.  If I’m the pro you call, you’ll find that I provide quality images that will get your course the attention it deserves, and costs are much lower than you may think.  In fact, I have some new shooting package options (See Below) that make professional images very affordable.  So EMAIL ME today, or call me at 678.362.5592, to find out how easy and affordable it is to present your club to the world in it’s best possible light!

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom first impressions matter golf course photographer golf courses marketing photography search the internet https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/9/first-impressions-matter Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:33:42 GMT
Panoramic Images and Golf Courses - An Exciting Creative Opportunity https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/6/panoramic-images-and-golf-courses Not every golf course offers an opportunity for a dramatic panoramic image, but when one does, this is a powerful new tool in the golf course photographer’s kit.

Last year, when photographing Horseshoe Bend Country Club, in Roswell, Georgia I was inspired by the view above the 9th green.  Bob Cupp's renovation of this wonderful property opened up the property and offers a huge, wide vista.  So, I decided to capture a panoramic image, something I've done in my landscape work, but had not previously used in a golf course shoot.  Shooting a panoramic image not only gives a dramatic, wide-angle view of a scene... it also yields an image, capable of handling enormous enlargement with no loss of detail.  I shoot with a Nikon D800, which outputs a native image of 16 inches X 24 inches, so by combining a series of images into a panoramic, a dramatic photograph is created, with a stunning level of depth and detail.  The shot below goes from the 9th fairway and green on the left, all the way to the 10th tee and fairway on the right, something no single shot could accomplish.  Its native size, without enlargement, is a full 16” high by 88” wide.

Last week, at Crooked Stick Golf Club, a highly-regarded Pete Dye golf course in Carmel, Indiana, I had yet another wonderful opportunity for a panoramic.  This time I used a new toy I recently acquired to enable even larger panoramics... an L-Bracket that allows me to shoot vertically and make full use of my camera's 24" width as the height of the final image.  The image below is 2 feet high by 10 feet wide, native size.  It was taken from the 10th tee and provides a gorgeous view of the back nine.  Note the life-sized bronze sculpture of Pete and Alice Dye that greets golfers walking off the 18th green.

Every time I step onto a golf course with my camera, I'm working to create the best images I've ever done, and panoramic shooting is one way to do just that.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom georgia golf course photographer horseshoe bend country club panoramic, image https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/6/panoramic-images-and-golf-courses Tue, 10 Jun 2014 14:59:51 GMT
The Workspace Matters! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/the-workspace-matters I originally built my Atlanta studio in the basement of our home in 1986, when I was focused on music and audio production.  I had walked away from a performing career as a singer, but was determined to move ahead with songwriting and studio production.  I had a wonderful control room/recording space designed by Les Duncan, a friend who was a well known Atlanta design engineer and spent several months building out the space.  I then spent the next 14 years writing and producing audio for business.  I produced everything from broadcast advertising to on-hold messages to a service I developed for the trade show industry, called Audio Billboard.  I lost count along the way, but I produced several thousand short-form ads for companies of all sizes during the years that Audio Billboard was thriving, and traveled to up to 30 major trade shows a year, coast to coast.  But then, life being full of surprises, I had an auto accident which damaged my ears and I could no longer consistently trust my ears.  I still have moments when they work fine and I have maintained two old friends/clients for whom I produce large projects each year, but I had to walk away from day to day audio production.

And that's how I came to photography.  It was a fairly twisted path to get here, but I finally discovered this love of mine and have been thrilled with the acceptance I've received as a photographer and the success I'm enjoying as the years move along. 

The problem, though, was that I'd been working for years in my old recording studio, complete with a variety of remnants of those days of audio production, and the work space was just a cluttered mess.  Piles of stuff everywhere, most of which had nothing to do with my current work.  Enter the very late Spring this year that gifted me with some extra time in Atlanta, waiting for several courses to fully green up so I could get back to shooting.  I decided to redo the studio and make it a work space that inspires me, and one I look forward to spending time in each day.  Here's what I now have the pleasure of working in when I'm in Atlanta.  Life is good!


(Dave Sansom Photography) atlanta studio dream studio georgia new studio workspace photography studio https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/the-workspace-matters Wed, 28 May 2014 13:04:54 GMT
A New Book and A New Magazine Featuring My Photos https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/a-new-book-and-a-new-magazine-featuring-my-photos I'm very pleased to have my images included in two outstanding publications this month.  One, Atlanta Country Club's 50th Anniversary Book, is the best book of its kind I've seen.  The other is The Golf Sport, a new, upscale golf magazine I highly recommend you check out.
Atlanta Country Club's 3rd holeThe Beautiful Par 3 3rd Hole
Atlanta Country Club's golf course is one I've photographed more than any other.  I sort of consider it my home course, photographically.  I sold my first golf course photo in the Pro Shop, and they've sold more of my work than any other club.  Their web site is also full of my photos. So three years ago when Bob Hart, a club member charged with overseeing the golf section of their upcoming 50th anniversary book, asked me if they could use some of my photos in said book I naturally agreed.  And that's when the trouble started.  For the next two and a half years, the book committee, ably headed by Tom Kempton, kept "requesting" additional shots.  Again and again.  At first, it was simply a matter of their needing a shot from the tee on 9, etc..  Shots they wanted for the book that I hadn't taken.  No problem.  Then it was a need for "better" photos of certain holes.  And then, of course, there was the renovation of the 11th green complex, necessitating yet another photo shoot!  The requests only stopped when the book was passed on to the publisher/printer.  I joke.  Not about the repeated requests for additional photos, but certainly about the committee's abuse of my good nature.  Anyone who knows me is aware that I have no good nature, so how could they abuse it?

But all the work… and my part in this monumental effort was small in comparison to the efforts of those involved in the overall project… was well worth it, and the recently released book is the best of its kind I've seen.   Even if they weren't using my images, the book has tremendous depth and is a very good read.  For many years, Atlanta Country Club hosted The Atlanta Classic, a PGA Tour event won by some of the game's best players.  That section is particularly interesting.  But the hard work put into this book by Tom Kempton, Bob Hart, Tom Nixon and many more resulted in a fine publication, and I'm proud that my photos of their fine golf course are a part of it.  If you'd like to purchase a copy, they have them in Atlanta Country Club's Pro Shop.  Just call (770) 953-1211 for information.

This month's issue of the new… and completely unique… The Golf Sport features three of my images in a section titled "The Course".  And I'm told this is the first time they've used a single photographer for all three of the featured courses.  Prior issues have had photos of golf courses in exotic locations like Yingkou, China; Pokhara, Nepal; and Sun City, South Africa, so that may explain why they have typically used multiple photogs.  Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled to be in the mag!

When publisher Ryan Stalvey approached me about showcasing my work, he asked if I'd like to submit specific photos. I suggested, as an alternative, that he visit my online golf course portfolio and make his own selections.  He's an experienced publisher, familiar with golf course photography, and I was confident he'd choose wisely.  He selected an image of the clubhouse at Liberty National Golf Club… a highly exclusive club with Manhattan as its backdrop, and one of my favorites… but the other two were anything but exotic, or even exclusive, golf clubs.  One is Mountain Dell, an excellent muni in Salt Lake City, Utah and the other is Blueberry Plantation, a wonderful public stay-and-play property in Alma, Georgia.  What the images have in common is that they are all sunrise images, something that's become a bit of a trademark for me.  It's good to know that an important element of my work is noticed by folks in the biz whose work I respect!  

But more about The Golf Sport.  It's worth checking out.  There are no golf tips, no interviews with touring pros and no reviews of the latest golf gear.  Well, that's not entirely correct.  This month's issue features a lengthy article on the new Aston Martin Golf Collection by MD Golf, Europe's number one golf brand.  But that's atypical.  The magazine is about the golf "lifestyle".  Why do we play?  What else do we play?  And beyond sport, what else interests us?  There are articles by current writers, like Jameson Parker; articles from the past by folks like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Francis Ouimet; and artwork by the likes of Henry Hintermeister and Leroy Neiman.  Eclectic is a word that comes to mind. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is a new magazine.  I believe the upcoming June/July issue will be their 4th bi-monthly publication.  So watching these folks define and redefine their voices and watching The Golf Sport grow and thrive should be quite an adventure.  You can find out more… and subscribe, too… at GolfSportMag.com.  Or if you're feeling old-fashioned, you can simply call 888.315.2472 for subscription info.

(Dave Sansom Photography) atlanta country club dave sansom golf course photography golf lifestyle publications the golf sport magazine https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/a-new-book-and-a-new-magazine-featuring-my-photos Tue, 20 May 2014 19:31:29 GMT
Spring Shooting Gets Under Way with 2 Days at Wade Hampton Golf Club! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/spring-shooting-gets-under-way-with-2-days-at-wade-hampton-golf-club WHAT A BEAUTY!

Naturally, I'd known of Wade Hampton Golf Club before I had the opportunity to photograph it.  It's considered by many to be Tom Fazio's finest design, and I'm a big fan of Mr. Fazio's work.  Golf Digest named it this year's 10th Most Beautiful Course in America.  It's ranked in the top 20 in Golf Digest's Best 100 American Golf Courses.  It's the #1 ranked course in North Carolina.  And it's among the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World by all credible ranking sources.  Whew!  

So to say I was pumped to be asked to photograph Wade Hampton Golf Club would be pretty accurate.  Finally, I could get my busy Spring shooting schedule under way, and I got to start it all off at one of the country's most beautiful courses to boot!  How good is that? 


I need to pause for a moment for some thank you's.  First, thanks to Dan Janton and the folks at Heritage Charity Auctions and Awards, who arranged for me to do this photo shoot.  The guys at Heritage continue to be incredibly supportive of my work, and it's very much appreciated. Second, my sincere thanks to Pete Matthews, Director of Golf at Wade Hampton, for allowing me the joy of roaming this beautiful property for a few days.  I'm never happier than when I'm photographing a beautiful golf course and this one is, indeed, a beauty.  And finally, it would be incredibly rude of me not to thank Tom Fazio for designing such a stunning track.  A great course, in my estimation, is the result of a successful collaboration between God and a golf course architect who fully understands and loves the land with which he is blessed to work.  Tom, my hat's off to you.  Now, if you could only help me arrange a photo shoot at Frederica...


I had spent a week in the Highlands/Cashiers area of North Carolina last Fall, and really enjoyed myself, so I was happy to get back into the area.  When I arrived, Pete Matthews and his team were incredibly welcoming and helpful, giving me carte blanche to do what I love to do.  It doesn't get any better than that.  Sadly, shooting conditions were not optimal for my shoot on Wednesday afternoon.  Nothing but clear blue skies.  Perfect for playing golf and enjoying the mountains.  Not so much for photographing a golf course.  I did get some usable images, but I decided that I would need to stay at least thru Thursday afternoon, when partly cloudy skies were predicted, to get some good late day shots.  Honestly, though, if the worst thing I had to deal with was spending a few more hours roaming Tom Fazio's master work, life is pretty great!

Thursday morning the light was beautiful, but the skies were still clear, so I concentrated on more intimate shots using a long lens to minimize the skies as a design element.  And I got some good photos.  Worst case scenario, I figured I'd shoot in the soft morning light and just replace the skies in the shots that had large swaths of plain blue.  Not my favorite thing to do, but sometimes it's necessary.  I left the course around 10, hopeful that the afternoon would bring the kind of interesting skies that help  make great photographs.  And that's exactly what happened.  The clouds began appearing around noon, and by the time I started my afternoon shoot at 4, I was in heaven.  It was a great afternoon of shooting, leaving me in very good humor.

I was back at the course at 5:30 Friday morning, hoping that enough clouds would remain from the day before to produce a good sunrise and once again, God smiled.  The dawn wasn't a blazing, shield-your-eyes kind of shooting opportunity, mostly because the mountains blocked the sun until it rose high enough for the rosy color to fade.  But the early morning colors were beautiful and I captured some wonderful images before the sun actually made its entrance.  Once Father Sun hit the ground, I launched into my usual hyper driven shooting frenzy, racing from hole to hole, trying to get as many good shots as possible.  As often happens, the skies went fairly gray right after the beautiful sunrise, so there are some pretty unusual images in that part of the collection.  But then the clouds parted enough to give me some more beautiful, partly cloudy shots before I had to hit the road. 


Wade Hampton is a property I could never finish shooting, and hopefully I'll have more chances to chase after the perfect light and the perfect image.  But for now, the 100 images I completed may well be the best collection I've ever done.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  Just click any of the images in this article and you can see some of my favorites.

(Dave Sansom Photography) beautiful golf course cashiers dave sansom north carolina spring tom fazio wade hampton golf club https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/5/spring-shooting-gets-under-way-with-2-days-at-wade-hampton-golf-club Thu, 15 May 2014 15:37:25 GMT
Two Rules I Never Break https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/3/two-rules-i-never-break
Knowing the basic rules of photography, from composition to exposure, depth of field to color management and more is very important for a photographer.  But honestly, breaking those rules often results in the best images. I have two rules, though, that I never break.  1.)  Always show up, and 2.) Turn around.

Both rules recently turned what could have been a total bust of an early morning shoot into a set of some of the most powerful images I've ever taken on a golf course.  

A new client, Heritage Golf Links, in Tucker, Georgia, asked me to shoot some "off-season" images of their over-seeded course.  I'm always ready to get out on a golf course, camera in hand, so I was all in.  The first day was a typical afternoon shoot, and I captured some nice images.  The contrast of the beautiful, green fairways, tee boxes and putting surfaces with the brown bermuda roughs was very dramatic and interesting, and I ended the day's shoot happy with the material I'd gathered.

The second day's forecast was for clouds and rain, but following my first rule, I showed up anyway.  I was up at 5, heading for the course to beat the sun.   As I drove though the predawn darkness, I saw glimpses of stars… even a flash of the moon… so I thought I might luck out and get a good sunrise as the front moved in from the west.  I had identified a great spot for sunrise shooting the day before, so as soon as I loaded my golf cart I raced out to get into position.  Sadly, the clouds rolled in before the sun made its appearance and the sky was pretty boring.  I came close to packing up and leaving, but following rule #2, I turned around.  What I saw was a stunning, horizon-to-horizon front of swirling, dramatic cloud formations unlike anything I'd ever seen.  

For the next half hour, I shot image after image.  I didn't have to move around the course, since the primary feature of my images was the sky, but I was well situated along the ninth fairway, next to the lake.  Eventually, the amazing formations gave way to a generally gray, rainy sky so I packed up my gear and headed home, very glad that I have at least 2 unbreakable rules!

(Dave Sansom Photography) beautiful skies clouds dawn dramatic cloud formations georgia heritage golf links morning stunning sunrise tucker https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/3/two-rules-i-never-break Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:24:00 GMT
Who Says You Can't Photograph Golf Courses in The Winter? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/2/who-says-you-cant-photograph-golf-courses-in-the-winter  

Not me, that's a certainty.  I love golf courses.  I think of them as creative collaborations between God, the course designer and the superintendent.  We all owe our thanks to all three for the beautiful golfscapes we enjoy.  Sometimes a golf course architect alters a property very little, placing his design comfortably into the existing landscape.  In some cases the designer walks all over God's original intent, reshaping a property into something completely different from it's original form.  But The Big Guy still has weather in his pocket as a way of putting in his two cents, and that's why I love shooting golf courses in the snow!

The first golf course photograph I sold was one I shot of the signature 13th hole at Atlanta Country Club, under 6 inches of snow, and I continue to look for opportunities to photograph snow covered tracks.  The River Club, in Suwanee, Georgia used a snow-covered image of their signature 17th hole for its Christmas card, and has a large canvas print of that same image in the Men's Locker Room.  And of course I shot some snow covered beauties while I lived in Utah!

There has been no shortage of snow in Indianapolis this year, and I've been looking for an opportunity to do some shooting at Highland Golf & Country Club.  Attempts to shoot the snow covered course early in the season didn't work out, but after our last big snowfall, I spent a couple of hours hiking around the course and came away with some wonderful images and a big smile.  I love old golf courses, and this almost hundred year old Willie Parker, Jr. / Bill Diddel design is a great example, with mature trees lining the fairways and great grass throughout.  Even under 10 inches of snow, the classic beauty of this course shines through.  CLICK HERE to see all the snowy images of Highland Golf & Country Club.


(Dave Sansom Photography) golf golf courses in snow highland golf & country club indianapolis snow winter https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/2/who-says-you-cant-photograph-golf-courses-in-the-winter Mon, 17 Feb 2014 14:24:00 GMT
A Look Back at 2013 https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/2/a-look-back-at-2013

Even though the golf industry has been in questionable shape for the past few years, there is a segment of it that has continued to thrive, and an even larger segment that continues to compete actively in the marketplace.  Happily, because of those clubs, 2013 was a great year for my photography.  As the year progressed, I had the opportunity to shoot an increasing number of highly regarded golf courses, like Peachtree Golf Club; Liberty National Golf Club; Ambiente, at JW Marriott's Camelback Inn Resort and more.  And my images were used in some high profile publications.  I provided all but two of the images of Liberty National Golf Club used in the official program for The Barclay's Championship, and landed one of my images of Ambiente on the cover of The ASCGA's By Design Magazine.  All in all, I kept very busy shooting some wonderful courses from the Southeast to the Northeast to the Midwest to Arizona.  Not bad for an old guy.  Here's a brief look at some details…

In January I met Jason Straka, half of the new design firm, Fry Straka Global Golf Course Design, when I drove to Dublin, Ohio from my second residence in Indianapolis to have lunch with him.  We hit it off instantly.  I love Jason's design work, and he has said of my photography, "Dave's work is some of the finest golf course photography I have ever seen!"  It's pretty hard not to like someone who has such great taste in photography!  (A NOTE: Both Jason and Dana Fry were part of the highly regarded Hurdzan Fry Environmental Golf Course Design, and had recently split off to form their own enterprise, while Michael Hurdzan and his son, Chris, established their own new company, Hurdzan Golf.)   

Jason and I stayed in close contact, and he put in a lot of effort to convince Eagle Golf to invite me to shoot his renovation of Columbia Country Club, in Columbia, Missouri; as well as a similar amount of work to get Marriott Golf to invite me to photograph his award-winning new design, the Ambiente Course at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Both courses, by the way, won Design Excellence Awards from the ASGCA and appeared in the society's winter edition of By Design Magazine.  Eight of my images of those courses were used in the magazine and one of the Ambiente images was selected for its cover.  The Boardroom Magazine, the official publication of the Association of Private Club Directors, has also named Fry Straka Global Golf Course Design The 2013 Golf Course Design Firm of The Year.  My congratulations to Jason and Dana on a much deserved honor.

In May, Heritage Charity Auctions and Awards, in Cumming, Georgia achieved status as a licensed vendor for the PGA Tour for… among other things… photography.  At the same time, they asked me to begin photographing golf courses for them.  I remain completely independent, but when one of their clients needs or wants new images of their course, Heritage sends me out.  I have worked with Heritage for a few years, having them do my framing, and I have the highest regard for the quality of their products.  We also have become good friends.  But until May they had used another photographer, with whom they had a long-standing relationship.  From the time I met Dennis, the company's founder, I wanted to shoot for them, so when they offered me the gig I accepted gladly.  They had me photograph some of the clubs they work with in the Metro Atlanta area at first, and in September, they sent me to New Jersey to photograph Liberty National Golf Club.  What an amazing property owner Paul Fireman has built.  It took 13 years to build Liberty National and cost somewhere around $250 million to complete.  Designers Bob Cupp and Tom Kite turned a toxic land fill into a dream of a golf course and superintendent Greg James is a genius.  The course is spectacular, and the conditioning couldn't be better.  What a joy it was to photograph.

Speaking of Bob Cupp, after photographing Liberty National and a few other Bob Cupp designs this year, I discovered that he lives about 5 miles from my Atlanta home.  I got in touch, we had lunch, and we've developed a great friendship.  We come from very different directions in life, he's clearly much older than I (that's a joke, Bob!) and he's much more accomplished than I ever expect to be.  But we have much in common outside of the golf industry and I can't get enough Bob Cupp in my life.  Bob is incredibly creative on many levels, generous to a fault and a treat to hang out with.

The year wrapped up with a lightning round of Fall shooting, which included 9 golf courses in 3 weeks.  Along with Columbia Country Club and Ambiente, in Scottsdale, I also photographed Dunwoody Country Club in Atlanta; 5 gorgeous clubs in the Highlands/Cashiers, North Carolina area; and The Reserve at Lake Keowee, where I shot more Fall images of the lake and the community than of the golf course.  Sadly, the Jack Nicklaus Signature course was a little too deep into its transition to dormancy when I was there, but I'll be back at Lake Keowee in early summer to catch this beautiful property at its peak.

As 2014 gets underway, I can't wait until Spring shooting gets underway.  So many doors opened in 2013 that I'm confident 2014 will be my most satisfying year yet.  At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

(Dave Sansom Photography) 2013 schedule beautiful golf courses dave sansom golf course photographer photography https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/2/a-look-back-at-2013 Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:52:25 GMT
Find Your Vision and Work Your Ass Off https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/1/find-your-vision-and-work-your-ass-off The world is full of photographers.  Especially with the advent of smartphones with excellent built-in cameras.  But even when one eliminates the smartphone shooters, there are still a gazillion photographers on the planet.  And while golf course photography is a tiny niche, there are many excellent golf course photographers ready, willing and able to photograph any course that comes calling.  So the dilemma is, how does one build a career in a field that has plenty of pros already on the scene?  

My plan all along has been to follow my basic philosophy on work, and to do a few things differently, style-wise.  My work philosophy has four elements.  

  1. Always show up.  No matter the weather, regardless of how I may feel when I wake up, 2 hours before sunrise, I always show up.  Some of my very best shots have been complete serendipity, a small window of spectacular light, sandwiched between a gray dawn and an overcast morning.  The fact is, no matter what The Weather Channel says, there's always a possibility that something uniquely beautiful will present itself.  
  2. Always be on time, with a smile.  As I've always told my sons, if you show up on time, with a smile, you're in the top 10 percent of employees.  And if you do a good job, you've rocketed into the top one percent.  
  3. Under promise and over deliver.  That's a simple one.  If you promise the moon and deliver a candle, even if that candle is a nice one, your client will be disappointed.
  4. Turn around.  I'm not sure who, but one of the landscape photographers whose work I follow, made that statement in a blog post a couple of years ago.  I don't remember whether it was his original thought, or one he was repeating, but it's great advice.  It's so easy to get focused on the scene that first captured my attention, that I often have to remind myself to step back and look around.  And I'm often rewarded with a second or third great shot.

Concerning style…
Though I am a fan of several golf course photographers whose work I follow, I've never tried to duplicate their style.  I'm way too ornery to want to be like someone else.  And I feel that attempting to copy another photographer's style is restrictive and, ultimately, anti-creative.  Bob Cupp, the highly regarded golf course architect, paid me a high compliment a couple of weeks ago.  After I shot Liberty National Golf Club for The 2013 Barclay's Championship I contacted Bob, who designed Liberty National with Tom Kite, and we've developed a good friendship.  We talk regularly and swap emails often.  So when Tudor Rose Publishing chose to use one of my images of the new Ambiente Course at JW Marriott's Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona on the cover of By Design Magazine, I called Bob to tell him.  He said, "I know.  I knew it was yours when I saw the cover."  I almost wrenched my shoulder, patting myself on the back.  Here was a great golf course architect, and a man whose creative judgement I respect, recognizing my work without prompting.  As an artist, having a unique, identifiable style is paramount and to have achieved that, at least in this one instance, is a significant validation.

And speaking of Ambiente… Jason Straka, of Fry Straka Global Golf Design, the course's designer, also padded my ego a bit in November when I  was in Scottsdale photographing the course.  Ambiente was scheduled to open on the 19th, and I was there the 15th thru the 18th, shooting.  Jason flew in for the opening on the 18th, and over lunch asked me if there were any holes that stood out to me.  The course is full of holes that stood out to me, but I told him, "The first".  He said, "What?  That's interesting.  We had to kind of wedge that hole in there, because there was nowhere else to go with it and I never thought of it as special."  Late that afternoon, I was back at the golf club, shooting around the clubhouse and Jason called me on my cell.  He said, "I'm sitting over here on 1, and you're right.  I've never looked at the hole in this light and it's really beautiful."  Having the ability to use a good DSLR and the digital technologies available today for editing and processing images is very important.  But for a photographer, having a vision is the most valuable asset, and helping a great golf course architect see something he hadn't noticed before is a great feeling.

So, if you're a photographer, here are some thoughts to consider.  Learn from, but don't copy other photographers.  Appreciate their work, but don't try to duplicate it.  Find your vision.  Work your ass off.  And have fun!

(Dave Sansom Photography) https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2014/1/find-your-vision-and-work-your-ass-off Sat, 25 Jan 2014 16:39:57 GMT
What an amazing Spring and Summer! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/8/what-an-amazing-spring-and-summer I never thought Spring would actually "spring", but when it did, I hit the ground running and haven't slowed down yet.  As a result of long-standing relationships, as well as a new business relationship with Heritage Charity Auctions and Awards, I've been shooting an incredible collection of golf courses.

Courses I've shot in the past two months include:

Highland Golf & Country Club, Indianapolis, Indiana
Old Oakland Golf Club, Indianapolis, Indiana
Goose Pond, Colony Course, Scottsboro, Alabama
Bear's Best Atlanta, Suwanee, Georgia
Peachtree Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia
Horseshoe Bend Country Club, Roswell, Georgia
Marietta Country Club, Marietta, Georgia
Legends at Chateau Elan, Braselton, Georgia
Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, New Jersey

You read that right... Liberty National, host of this year's Barclays Championship, the first of the PGA Playoff tournaments.  What an incredible club and course.  This course was co-designed by Tom Kite and legendary golf course architect, Bob Cupp, and it's in a class all by itself.  Plus, to make it even better for me, my images are being used in the Barclay's souvenir book, the daily tee sheets and program.  They'll also be sold in the merchandise tent during the tournament.  I might be able to make a living at this, after all!

Another golf course that may stand out in the list above is Peachtree Golf Club.  This course was designed by Bobby Jones and Robert Trent Jones in the late 1940's and remains one of the most exclusive private clubs in the country.  They don't even have a web site.  But do they ever have a gorgeous golf course!

(Dave Sansom Photography) dave sansom liberty national golf club peachtree golf club professional golf course photographer https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/8/what-an-amazing-spring-and-summer Tue, 06 Aug 2013 14:37:14 GMT
Spring Shooting is Well Underway! https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/6/spring-shooting-is-well-underway Deep into May, it continued to appear that Spring would never fully blossom into golf course shooting opportunities.  From Georgia to Indiana, courses simply weren't greening up, and I was pulling what little hair I have left, crazy anxious to get back to work!  But finally the weather turned and on May 15, I jumped in with both feet.

The first course I shot was Goose Pond Colony, in Scottsboro, Alabama.  What a great little place!  Goose Pond is on the Tennessee River, and much of the course takes advantage of that location.  The lodging options are also excellent, with an array of cottages right on the water and a lodge for larger groups or singles.  If you're looking for a new place for a great golf getaway, check on Goose Pond Colony.  Highly recommended.

When I returned to Atlanta, I had the pleasure of shooting Bear's Best Atlanta, a high-end public course north of the metro Atlanta area that features replicas of 18 of Jack Nicklaus's favorite holes.  This is a real beauty, and if you're a public golfer wanting a private club feel and a great course, Bear's Best Atlanta is a must-play.

Back in Indianapolis, I got started with Spring shooting at Highland Golf and Country Club, a 100 year old course that's one of Indy's most respected clubs.  The course is not a brain twister, as many modern courses are.  It's all right in front of you.  But it's wonderfully maintained and so well laid out, I think I could play there every day and never get tired of it.

My second Indy course was Old Oakland, a private club in a community on the northeast side of the city.  This course features 27 holes, and has multiple personalities, so on any given day you can play what feels like a different course than your previous visit.  I had miserable shooting conditions both mornings I tried to shoot, but I did manage to get a few interesting dawn shots and my afternoon shoot was a good one.

Next up... The legendary Peachtree Golf Club, Horseshoe Bend and The Legends at Chateau Elan, all in the metro Atlanta area.  How much fun can one old guy with a camera have!

(Dave Sansom Photography) alabama dave sansom georgia indiana private golf club professional golf course photographs public golf course spring shooting season https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/6/spring-shooting-is-well-underway Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:28:57 GMT
What's Involved in A Golf Course Photo Shoot, Anyway? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/4/whats-involved-in-a-golf-course-photo-shoot-anyway A Typical Photo Shoot

First, there is no typical photo shoot.  I shoot mountain courses, parkland courses, links courses… all kinds of courses.  And I shoot all over the country.  And every shoot is unique.  However, for argument's sake...

A local shoot (near Atlanta or Indianapolis) will usually include an early morning session and a late afternoon session, for a total of 4 to 6 hours of on-site work.  For local shoots, I schedule one day at a time because there are no travel issues and I can select the best day to be on the course.  For out of town work, I prefer... but don't require... to schedule at least 3 days on a property, so we can both be confident that I'll have ample time with ideal shooting conditions.  (I have a terrible fear of flying to the wilds of Canada for a one day shoot and being washed out by gray, nasty weather, when what my client needs are great shots of a beautiful golf course!  What a waste of my time and my client's resources!)

A one day shoot will usually result in 40 to 50 images for my client to review.

What Uses Do You Anticipate for New Photos?

The first question to ask is how do you intend to use your new images?  A pro photographer (please insert my name here!) can shoot to meet your specific needs and keep costs under control.  So whether you need only a few images of your signature hole(s) or a complete collection of images for an online course tour, a new yardage book or to decorate your clubhouse, I can schedule the proper amount of time to build a collection to meet those specific needs.

Next, we need to schedule my visit properly, so as not to interfere with events you may have scheduled.  We also need to schedule around aerification, so your greens are in good condition.  And then there are seasonal issues.  Perhaps capturing early Spring color or Fall foliage is important to you and your members.  I enjoy my relationships with my clients, and am happy to return multiple times during the year to build a year round catalog of images.  I see beauty in golf courses at every time of the year, so let me know what works best for you, and I'll schedule accordingly.

A Day On The Course…

My typical shooting schedule allows me to avoid having any impact on play.  My goal is for your golfers to not even know I've been on the course.  I am usually on your property before the sun, and shoot for 3 to 4 hours in the morning.  Then I'm back very late in the afternoon and shoot until almost dark.  My goal is to avoid golfers altogether, but if you need images that include activity on the course, I can capture those images without interfering with play.  And if images require model releases I can obtain them easily… again, minimizing interference to play.

Once my onsite work is completed, I schedule studio processing and will let you know when to expect to see your collection.  Since Fall and Spring are the best times of year for golf course photography, my schedule is heavily weighted toward travel and shooting from May to July, and again from late September thru November, so I am not always able to turn your photos around right away.  I always try to be flexible, though, so if you have a photo emergency, please let me know and I'll work hard to accommodate.

...Becomes a Week In The Studio

Why, you ask, does it take so long for me to process my photos?  After all, Walmart can turn your snapshots around in a day!  My photographs are what I refer to as "Hybrid HDR" photos.  First, I shoot in Camera Raw, a format that contains all the data captured by my camera's sensor.  (You probably shoot Jpegs, a format that is processed in the camera and does not have all the original information your camera captured.)  Also, most of my images… though not all… are produced by blending multiple exposures of the same image.  The result is an image with greater depth and detail than is possible with a single exposure… and an absence of pure white (over exposed) areas and pure black (under exposed) areas.  I don't want to get too technical, but by combining multiple exposures I can hold the detail in both highlights and shadows, and can produce photos that come much closer to the full range of light you see with your eyes.

Here's an example.  The first two rows, below, show a set of 7 exposures of the same image.  These are Camera Raw images, so they're pretty boring.  The larger photo, below the 7 exposures is the final image.  This process of blending the tone maps of multiple images, tweaking white balance and color, boosting detail and (in the case of this image) finalizing an image with an alternate sky, takes anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour to complete, so producing 50 images is almost a full week's work!

0C-99 WrightWedding_Ceremony-0194


My Studio Workflow

The first thing I do in the studio is to go thru the entire shoot to identify the best images, and those I think will show your course at its best.  A normal day on the golf course results in somewhere between 1000 and 1500 snaps of the shutter.  But remember… I shoot multiple exposures of each setup, so a day's shooting really only yields between 200 and 300 images from which I select only the best to process.  I usually find that I'm pleased with 30% to 40% of my shots, so your collection could be as few as 30 images or as many as 100 images per day of shooting.

When your collection is complete, I will send you a link to a private, online gallery so you can select the images you wish to use.  Based on your needs, you may purchase the full collection or just one image.  You have no obligation to purchase anything, but I'm willing to bet you'll see many images you'd like your club to own.  My rates are very reasonable, and like most things, the more images you purchase or license, the lower the prices.

Spring is peeking around the corner, so if you need new photos of your course, please contact me right away to schedule a shoot.  I have several weeks work scheduled already, but I'd love to add your course to my calendar!

(Dave Sansom Photography) golf course photo shoot hdr how will you use your photos photo processing schedule a shoot scheduling use of photos https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/4/whats-involved-in-a-golf-course-photo-shoot-anyway Mon, 08 Apr 2013 18:48:06 GMT
Great Skies Make the Difference https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/2/great-skies-are-the-difference I'd like to think that every time I am out shooting I'll get great shooting conditions, but more often than not something's just not right.  It's one thing when a photographer has the luxury of shooting amazing scenery within easy reach of his or her home, but it's an entirely different situation when one travels serious distances to shoot.

In September I flew to Utah to shoot a wedding (Yes, a wedding!  Go figure.) and 9 of Utah's state parks.  The temperatures were perfect and there was lots of sun, but several days it was very hazy, and when I was in the Vernal area, shooting 3 state parks and the Utah Field House Museum of Natural History, the sky was clear and brilliantly blue.  Great weather if I were playing golf.  BORING for landscapes.  So, the first thing was to make sure I shot very early and very late to get great shadows and to take advantage of the golden light that only happens at the beginning and the end of the day.  But beyond that, it became necessary to get creative in the studio. 

I've written before about the benefits of using HDR techniques to squeeze all the drama out of a scene and pull details out of shadows while holding detail in the highlights.  Well, sometimes it takes even more, and in this image I used some blending modes in Photoshop to get a great sky and a great image.

Here's the middle exposure of the 9 that I shot of the image

When I tonemapped all 9 exposures, you'll note that the detail and depth improves, but the sky is so boring, the photo simply isn't happening.

So things are looking up, but the sky needs to be replaced.  But not completely.  I have a great collection of skies I can use for replacements when needed, but the sunrise sky I wanted to use didn't have that great hot spot that the original had.  Enter Blending Mode in Photoshop CS6, and Voila!

There was a bit more than simply using blending mode that needed to be done to bring this image to life, but the result was well worth the effort!

(Dave Sansom Photography) beautiful clouds beautiful scene boating brilliant sun dave sansom family flowers hiking lake red fleet state park sunrise utah vernal https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/2/great-skies-are-the-difference Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:37:00 GMT
First Published Images in Indiana https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/2/first-published-images-in-indiana In August, my wife and I moved across country, from Herriman, Utah to Indianapolis.  I love Utah more than I can say... wait, I guess I just said it!  Our year in the state was great for my photography business.  During that year, I shot 17 golf courses, plus 23 of the Utah's 43 state parks

In addition to business, though, Utah offered a huge bonus of creative photographic possibilities everywhere we traveled in the state, it was one OMG moment after another.  The views are so dramatic all over the state that putting my camera away was sometimes the biggest challenge.  Consequently, the move to Indiana has required a creative adjustment.  


We like the city.  Indianapolis has everything we need.  The people are great, we've found some unique and wonderful restaurants, and It's incredibly easy to get around.  I also believe I'll do well with my golf course photography business in the region.  But scenic beauty is a bit tougher to come by.  

After a few months of withdrawal from my addiction to the gorgeous landscapes of Utah, I began getting out to look for new photo opportunities late in the Fall.  These images were taken in Benjamin Harrison State Park, just outside Indy.  A little change is perspective from massive vistas to more intimate opportunities was necessary, but I believe I'll be okay, after all!  :)

(Dave Sansom Photography) beautiful scenery fall color forest fort harrison state park indiana indianapolis outdoors recreation stairs travel vacation woods https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/2/first-published-images-in-indiana Wed, 06 Feb 2013 12:46:37 GMT
So What The Heck Is An HDR Image, Anyway? https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/1/so-what-the-heck-is-an-hdr-image-anyway HDR, or High Dynamic Range, photography is different things for different photographers.  For me, it's a way to radically increase the dynamic range, depth and detail of my photographs to get an image that's much closer to what the human eye can see than is usually possible with a single exposure image.  If one is shooting in a studio, or in some other controlled-light situation, the shortcomings of the DSLR sensor can be dealt with by placing light sources as needed.  But I work outdoors, and don't have the ability to control Mother Nature's lighting choices, so for me HDR is amazing.

I always shoot in Camera Raw, and I shoot from 3 to 9 exposures of every image I want to capture.  Camera Raw captures lots of information that a jpeg image doesn't, so if one is serious about image control, there's only one way to shoot... Camera Raw.  However, Camera Raw images don't look very good.  Here's an example.  This is the middle exposure of a 9-image set I shot at dawn at Atlanta Country Club in October.

Less than exciting, certainly, but with 4 exposures on both sides of this middle exposure, I have plenty to work with.  Already, you can see that the sky is white and the shadows fade to black pretty quickly.  Not the goal, certainly.  So, the first step is to use tonemapping to expand the dynamic range, allowing me to hold details in the highlights while opening up the shadows so we can see what I actually saw on site.  Here's a tonemapped image.

As you can see, tonemapping makes a huge difference, opening up the shadows and bringing a bit of color back into the sky, but we're still not where we want to be.  At this point, I typically open the image in Photoshop and begin to add contrast, detail, and a few other things... like a sky that seemed appropriate... to yield an image that is much more like what I saw and felt on the morning I took this shot.  Here's the final image in the evolution of this HDR image.

(Dave Sansom Photography) atlanta country club dave sansom georgia golf course photographer hdr high dynamic range professional photographer https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/1/so-what-the-heck-is-an-hdr-image-anyway Sun, 27 Jan 2013 15:50:19 GMT
A New Photo Host, and a Great Utility to Get It Started https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/1/a-new-photo-host-and-a-great-utility-to-get-it-started At ImagingUSA, in Atlanta,I discovered that Professional Photographers of America is an ideal home for wedding photographers, portrait photographers and school photographers.  Not so much for golf course photographers.  But in spite of its orientation toward studio and people photographers, I still got some great info at the 4 classes I attended.  And the trade show was excellent, in that all of us who spend our days looking thru a viewfinder use the same toys. 

I want to give a special thanks to 3 presenters.  Sarah Petty, from The Joy of Marketing, was excellent.  In fact, based on her se ssion, I'm now digging in on revamping my entire marketing plan.  Julieanne Kost, from Adobe, was excellent, too, though her focus was on the technical aspects of Lightroom 4.  I've spent time with many of her online videos, but she's much more entertaining live.  Sort of a goofball.  And very smart.  My favorite session, though, was one offered by Jared Platt.  He, like Julieanne, was focused on Lightroom 4, but he hit my sweet spot by spending his time talking about how to be more efficient and effective in the program.  Since I deal with very large numbers of photos from each shoot, efficient workflow is something that is very close to my heart.  And Jared was excellent.

My big discovery at the trade show was Zenfolio, the providers of this new web home for galleries of my work.  SmugMug, my previous host, is a terrific photo host, but it's not really designed to host web sites.  Zenfolio appears to offer all that SmugMug offers, along with a pretty full-featured web site structure.  I'm just now dipping my toes in the Zenfolio stream, but so far I'm impressed.  Naturally, I have a home page slideshow, and I've launched my Golf Course Portfolio, too.  But because I'm learning some new procedures and being pretty anal retentive about using proper SEO practices as I add photos, the addition of galleries is going slowly, but I feel like the payoff in higher traffic will make the effort worthwhile.

I'm also very impressed with a very helpful utility Zenfolio pointed me toward... Upload Junction, a site that offers an amazing app for transferring files between photo hosting sites.  Amazing!  I spent all of 2 minutes setting up the transfer of images from SmugMug to Zenfolio and in a few hours, Upload Junction had transferred 59GB of photos to my new home.  It didn't tie up my computer, my time, or my resources.  And it was free!  I've gotta find a way to thank those guys!  I'd give them my firstborn but at 21, he's sort of making his own decisions these days!

(By the way, the image at the right has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog.  I just like it!)

(Dave Sansom Photography) file transfer imagingusa jared platt julieanne kost marketing sarah petty upload junction zenfolio https://www.davesansom.com/blog/2013/1/a-new-photo-host-and-a-great-utility-to-get-it-started Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:45:15 GMT