Shoot like a Pro: Insights to Improve your Golf Course Photography and Content

Insights, Travel

Shoot like a Pro: Insights to Improve your Golf Course Photography and Content

By Matt Hahn

My journey into golf photography started with a GoPro and a leadership role with the University of Delaware Club Golf Team. I started shooting because we needed social content to help grow the club. A full Instagram feed and 150+ club members later, my work at Delaware helped land me a role as President of the National Collegiate Club Golf Association. In addition, I added more gear (a DSLR camera and a drone) to the fold to help fulfill elevated content creation responsibilities that came with creating content for a national organization.

Despite being a finance major, my content creation skills would ultimately help me land my first job post-college. I made a video for a social media contest that Topgolf hosted and ended up winning an opportunity to compete in a single-day competition with George Bryan. During the round, I met who would become my first boss at Topgolf’s corporate office in Dallas. After that, I spent four and a half years working on golf programs, strategic initiatives, and revenue-generating programs for Topgolf. The role allowed me to travel the country and play some great courses, and the camera was always packed in my bag ready to shoot. Luckily, my images ended up in front of a few of the right people who encouraged me to consider shooting professionally, and I started taking on paid jobs throughout COVID in 2020. My first paid work was shooting the new PGA Frisco property for the PGA of America.

A recent sunrise shoot at Chambers Bay outside of Tacoma, Washington. 

The paid jobs continued to roll in, and I decided to leave Topgolf in June of 2021 to focus on golf photography and videography full-time. Today I shoot major championships, courses, brand imagery, and other events for a variety of clients throughout the golf industry. So whether you’re looking to pursue photography professionally or grab a couple of images from your rounds, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that can help elevate your content:

  • Keep Story Top of Mind – one of the biggest reasons I could break into paid work as quickly as I did was because I taught myself to shoot more than standard course beauty images. There’s a whole story to be told with each event you shoot, trip you take, or round you play with your buddies. Taking time to bullet point the key elements of what’s ahead of you will help you capture a diverse collection of images to show off everything from the small details to the key moments.
  • Shoot in the Best Light Possible – golf is a game played in natural light, and light is a critical factor in shooting quality images. If you want your stuff to shine, you need to take advantage of the sunrise and sunset windows of the day. This is especially important for drones – I typically don’t use/post any drone content I shoot outside of the 2 hours post sunrise or 2 hours post sunset. Bonus tip for drones – keep the sun positioned in front of or to the sides of the drone for the best results.
  • Get Your Reps In – the more you shoot, the better you’ll get. It doesn’t have to be a paid job or a major championship – grab images of your buddies, volunteer to shoot the local charity tournament, or walk & play with the camera in hand. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you won’t get any better when your camera is sitting at home.
  • Find Different Angles/Compositions – the content world is heavily saturated, so shooting the same photos as everyone else won’t make your work stand out. If I see a bunch of photographers standing in one spot at an event, I typically head in the opposite direction to find a look that no one else will have. If you find yourself going to a heavily photographed course, put advanced thought into how to capture a familiar spot in a new way. A quick tip for compositions – turn the grid lines on for your camera and try positioning your subject in each of the nine squares on the screen. You’ll be surprised how often you find a better composition when your subject isn’t the dead center of the frame.

A drone shot over Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley Resort in Wisconsin.

Matt Hahn is the Founder of Matt Hahn Photography and is based in Dallas, Texas.

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Register for a free account here on our website to find a course with a beautiful setting that would be great for photography. Once logged in, go to the User Ratings section and use the Setting filter. The golf course setting is a rating category that our users submit and can help you in your search. You can add additional filters, such as location or amenities, to meet your preferences. If you’ve played courses that would be great to shoot, we encourage you to submit a rating ballot and leave a short review to inform and inspire fellow passionate golf travelers like yourself!

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