David Cannon is a world-renowned golf photographer. In his illustrious career he has photographed an incredible 36 Open Championships, 35 Masters and 18 Ryder Cups. He has captured some of the most iconic pictures in modern golf and is widely regarded as the most experienced and skilled individual in his field. We had the pleasure of speaking with David while he was in Scotland photographing Trump Turnberry’s new course, King Robert the Bruce. 

How did you get into golf photography?

I got into golf photography when I stopped playing golf. I was a low handicapper and played on the amateur circuit in the mid-70s. Photography started off as a hobby and eventually turned into a career, I am not formally trained! My first photography job came about when I was spotted by an agency for some pictures I had taken in the Leicester City F.C. match day programme. I took a 50% pay cut and went from selling nylon bed sheets to Asda and Morrisons to working as a full time sports photographer. About 18 months later I was poached again by a company in London - Allsport. My job was to build their football library, but in the summer I was allowed to take pictures of golf. As with all things, it was meeting the right people at the right time. Since then I’ve done 36 Open Championships, 35 Masters and total of 114 majors. It’s been great, how many people can say they love every minute of their job? When Allsport was sold to Getty Images, I was offered a directors role but turned it down because I wanted to keep taking photographs, it was the best decision I have ever made.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: King Robert the Bruce 11th Hole

King Robert the Bruce, 11th green 

What makes a golf course photogenic?

I don’t think you can fail to get great pictures of a place like Turnberry! I would say the first thing is down to the beauty of the landscape. We are totally spoilt in the British Isles for natural golfing landscapes. Golf courses were built on land before it came valuable and in places you would never get planning permission for now. The second thing is how the course is designed. I’m sure that when they built a lot of the old courses, they wouldn’t have thought of photographers. But some golf architects have an incredible eye, they know what’s going to look amazing and they can see an end product. Where you are in relation to longitude and latitude is also important. I was in Iceland last summer, because it’s so far north the sunsets are mind blowing. At certain times there are 24 hours of daylight, you can literally tee off at midnight! I can see why it has more golfers per head of the population than anywhere in the world.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: King Robert the Bruce, 4th Hole

King Robert the Bruce, 4th hole

What are some tips for photographing Open Championship golf courses?

Shooting in the first and last hour of daylight would be my number one piece of advice. The sun at those times really accentuates the typography of the landscape. Ideally if you can add cross light into that, which is when light comes from 90 degrees from either side. At Turnberry you’ve got a coastline that runs north to south, so most of the time you’re going to get side lighting on it. I also always use a polarising filter, you can add a similar effect on Photoshop but I prefer to do it in camera. Focus is also very important. In a portrait the first thing that anybody is drawn to are the eyes, in golf course landscapes this translates to the pin, your eyes are always drawn to the green.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: King Robert the Bruce, 3rd green

King Robert the Bruce, 3rd green

What golf event do you most look forward to photographing?

The Open or the Masters. The Masters because of its uniqueness, it’s the most perfect golf course in every sense, the colours, the history, everything. The Open Championship because it’s the greatest golfing event in the world on some of the most iconic links courses you will ever see. The Masters can be frustrating to shoot because we are not allowed inside the ropes; you know you're missing out on some unbelievable shots. However that's what makes it unique, you can get some beautifully clear images because no one is in the way. There’s no doubt that the best crowds are in Britain, they know how to behave better than anywhere which is another reason I look forward to the Open. I also like the Ryder Cup and the Walker Cup, the pictures from those are different because it’s a team event. There’s always a chance for some epic celebration pictures.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: King Robert the Bruce, 9th Hole

King Robert the Bruce, 9th hole

What are some challenges of photographing golf events?

It’s all about backgrounds, that’s why Augusta is different, you don’t have to worry about the background because you know it’s going to be clean. The middle of the day is also challenging because of the overhead sun. In the old days when I was shooting slide film I wouldn’t even go out then. The shadows would go jet black, with modern equipment you get so much more detail. It’s also different now in that the media want so many pictures. On the best day of the Open Championship in 1993, I would shoot 10 rolls of film which would be 360 pictures in a whole day. Now I can shoot 2000 before lunch and it doesn’t cost a penny, the contrast is astonishing.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: King Robert the Bruce, 8th Hole

King Robert the Bruce, 8th hole 

Who is (or was) your favourite player to photograph?

My favourite player to photograph was Seve Ballesteros without a doubt. Everything about him, the charisma of the man, the sheer joy of playing the game of golf that came out in his pictures. He loved the challenge, the difference between him and Tiger is that to him it was a sporting contest, he’d have a glass of wine with you afterwards. Tiger would rather grind you into the ground, he wouldn’t consider having a glass of wine with you after. Tiger has been incredible for my career though, but he’s a different animal, literally!

If you are interested in playing Trump Turnberry’s spectacular new King Robert the Bruce course, click here to view their summer golf offer.