I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about golf. I don’t understand the subtleties of the game or many of the traditions so when tasked with covering the Waste Management Phoenix Open I knew I was going to have to do a little bit of research to learn about what the unspoken rules of photographing golf are. I knew the biggie’s like not clicking the shutter until after the player has struck the ball, don’t make noise and don’t move around when the player is getting ready to hit the ball.
Beyond that I was a little fuzzy on what kind of shots I was trying to get and how it all works. There are so many aspects of how a tournament is run, the pairings, who goes first, how you tell who you are taking a picture of and so many others that I wasn’t really sure I could do a good job with this event. I tried my best and learned a few things along the way.
I thought golfers were these old guys in plaid paints and generally not very hip dudes. Yep, I was wrong here is Rickie Fowler in fourth round action of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona. As you can see Rickie is young and very stylish with tons of young hot female fans. That is not what I expected from a golf tournament.
To see more of the images from the Waste Management Phoenix Open Golf Tournament click on the link below.
I just loved the reflection in Nick O’Hern’s glasses with this shot and the great rim-lighting but I was told I was shooting too tight and I would need to show the golfer from the waist-up with the entire golf club including the club-head in the shot. In this shot, Nick O’Hern hits a shot from the famous 16th hole during second day of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
In a lot of the cases there are very distracting elements in the background and it can be difficult to get a shot of a player with a nice clean background, good lighting and good facial expressions without shooting or cropping in very tight. In this shot last year’s winner Hunter Mahan tries to move the ball with his mind and body english after it has left the tee.
I didn’t know if I should just camp out on the course and shoot every group that came through of follow a group around and work to get shots of just them. So I tried following this group with Hunter Mahan and see what kind of shot I could get.
Here is another one of those great rim-light shots. These can be a bit of a challenge photographically to get the exposure for the shadows right and sometimes they can look a bit flat like this one of Anthony Kim from the famous 16th hole during second day of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
In many cases I found myself shooting directly into the sun and completely blowing out the highlights or washing out almost everything in the photo but the face which is what I was exposing for like with this shot of Robert Allenby during first round action of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
There were so many shots where the player would have some distracting element behind them for my shot and I can’t move or change positions when the player is about to take a shot so you just hope the distracting element is enough out of focus or doesn’t make your shot completely useless. I think this one of Charlie Wi from the 16th-tee is borderline.
Here is a good example of a shot where the player has good expression and I think I got what could have been a decent shot except for all the distracting elements in the background. All those people and golf carts in the background kinda kill this shot of Mark Wilson in fourth round action.
The people in the background are a little less distracting in this shot of Bill Haas in fourth round action, but I’m sure the shot would be much nicer if they weren’t there at all.
I like the way the trees look in the background of this shot, nice clean background without any distracting elements. Looks like getting shots like this one of Chris Couch from fourth round action is going to be difficult.
There are some key players or local favorites that you can try to get nice shots of throughout the entire tournament and just never have the luck to get a good clean shot of like this one of Phil Mickelson on the 18th hole.
When I had a lot of distracting elements behind a player I would try to incorporate those elements into the shot like this shot of Alex Prugh from the first-tee during the start of the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
I wanted to get some shots that would give the viewer a sense of the course and little bit of a larger view so I tried to get some shots that would accomplish that and towards the end it looked like Tommy “two glove” Gainey was going to walk away with the big prize so I wanted to get some shots of him as well.
Old “two glove” makes his putt.
I think this shot with the long shadows and clean background of Bill Haas worked even though it is a non-action shot.
I love how the big tuffs of “rough” fly in this shot of Jonathan Byrd from the fairway on the 18th hole during the continuation of the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
I thought the lighting on this one of Mark Wilson was nice, but you can’t really see his eyes.
Another one of those “turf in the air” shot, this time with a cleaner background. This one of Bubba Watson from the fairway on 18.
I was having a hard time trying to identify this player because I was so far away and forgot to really, really pay attention to the caddy or player ID sign person. As far as I can tell, this is Marc Leishman on the famous 16th hole during second day of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Stadium golf course in Scottsdale Arizona.
I’ll end part one with a nice silhouette of Bill Haas and hope you return for parts two and three of my journey to become a PGA golf photographer.