Why hire a professional photographer?

In an era when nearly everyone has (or knows someone who has) a good camera, why spend money on a professional photographer? Because in this field, more than in most, you are likely to get what you pay for, and in any skilled craft the overall quality of the final product depends more on the proficiency of the person using the tools than it does on the tools themselves.

If that were not true everyone with a hammer a saw and a screwdriver would build their own furniture, and everyone with a wrench would maintain their own cars, but, of course, most of don’t attempt to do either. Yes, the right tools are important -- sometimes even essential. But “important” is not the same as “sufficient.” In certain hands quality tools can turn out magnificent work. Those same tools, in different hands, can also produce junk.

The creation of great photographs, like the creation of great woodworking, great literature, great painting, great music, or great theater is an art. If it’s not the tools which separate true art from ordinary pictures, what does? Primarily these three things:

A unique vision

We all speak the same language, use the same dictionary, and can consult the same thesaurus as Ernest Hemmingway, but his particular genius fashioned words we all use every day into works like “The Sun Also Rises,” “A Farewell to Arms,” For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” Similarly, any one of us can walk into an art supply store and buy canvas, oil paints, brushes, and an easel, but it took the unique genius of Vincent van Gogh to paint “Starry Night.” Millions of people have carried cameras into Yosemite National Park and the rest of the American southwest, but no one else “saw” it -- and then showed that vision to therest of us -- quite like Ansel Adams.

Technical skill and craftsmanship

Artistic vision alone, however, is insufficient if an artist lacks the ability to communicate that vision. If Margaret Mitchell had been functionally illiterate she could never have written “Gone With the Wind.” The wonderful melodies of Duke Ellington wouldhave died with him if he had not been able to preserve them on paper and in his recordings. Even though most people could memorize the script to “A Beautiful Mind,” few could deliver the acting performance of Russell Crowe. A good artist imagines things other people don’t and then finds a way to make their imaginations “real.”

Artistic arrangement

Even among artists who have a unique vision and the skills to communicate that vision, there is still significant variation in the overall artistic merit of their work. That variation arises, in large part, out of differences in the patterns, the rhythms, the composition, the textures, the balance, and the precise spatial and temporal arrangement of elements included in -- and excluded from -- an individual work of art. Artistic arrangement, though, is more difficult to quantify or analyze than either vision or skill. In fact, it is sometimes difficult even to identify. Very often the artist’s patterns, rhythms, textures, balance, etc. which affect us most profoundly are the ones perceived entirely on the subconscious level. We may not know, for example, precisely why Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is widely regarded as a beautiful piece of music, but most of us recognize that it is somehow superior to even the very best of The Rolling Stones or Britney Spears. Great photography is no different. Yes, anyone can take a picture, but building a great photograph is much more complex than simply exposing a piece of film to light. A great photograph happens only when a photographer starts with a unique vision and then constructs an image of that vision through the expert use of patterns, texture, depth, balance, rhythm, composition, perspective, and framing.

OK, I'll hire a professional, but why should I hire a golf course specialist?

Revenue maximization

There is no question that great golf course photography sells tee times, it sells outings, it sells memberships, and, of increasing importance in today’s golf business, it sells real estate. Poor or fair photography, even if it’s free, costs you revenue in two ways. First, the expense of designing and printing a brochure is exactly the same whether it contains great photography or poor photography, and that entire investment is wasted if your brochure does not look better than your competitions’. Second, your own brochure can actually drive potential customers (and the revenue which goes with them) to courses with better-looking promotional materials.

Increased visual exposure

Book, magazine and on-line publishers are constantly looking for golf course images, and often the first places they call are professional golf course photographers. Paul Hundley Photo\Graphics has secured national or regional exposure for our clients in publications like: Landscape Architecture magazine; Golf Magazine ; Golf Digest; Great Lakes Golf magazine; Midwest Express magazine; Wisconsin Golfer magazine; Par Excellence magazine; Chicagoland Golfer; “Playing Through ,” (a coffee-table book produced by the Wisconsin State Golf Association in celebration of the WSGA’s first 100 years, 1901 - 2001); and in the “Great Golf Holes of Wisconsin ”, 2002 and 2003 calendars. In many cases the individual courses could not have secured that exposure on their own.

Guaranteed results

Nothing developes confidence like consistent success, and I have been consistently successful at making all types of courses from low-budget daily fee to world-class resorts look their very best. I am so confident I can do the same for your course that if you honestly believe the images produced do not represent a good value for your money, you will not have to pay my photography fees.

While it is undeniably true that nearly anyone can use today’s sophisticated cameras, the creation of great photographs is both an art and a science -- not simply one more item on your “to-do” list. What separates the golf course specialist from other professional or advanced hobbyist photographers? Primarily these two factors:

Specialized professional equipment

For the average job I will normally bring 5 different camera bodies which cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 each. I will also bring 4 to 6 different lenses which cost between $800 and $6,000 each. No matter what anyone may want you to believe, the output quality and image variety from that equipment simply cannot be approached by anything except an identical (or superior) system. It’s just physically impossible.


The single most important factor in producing exceptional golf course photographs is the photographer's comfort level with accepting that he or she cannot control the direction, intensity or quality of the lighting but must react quickly and efficiently to its changes throughout the day, the month, the season, and the year. Nearly fourty years of experience doing precisely that has enabled me to develop the techniques, confidence, and (possibly most importantly) the intuition to anticipate and respond to those changes effectively.

Those are abilities a photographer not specializing in this field is unlikely to have, no matter how skilled they might be in their own specialty. Carl Sandburg was a great poet and Arthur Miller a great playwright, but no one thought to hire Sandburg to write a play or Miller to write a poem. Similarly, different disciplines within photography require very different skills and approaches. A studio photographer can take literally all day to set up a single shot. A golf course photographer has sometimes just seconds to capture a great image or lose it forever. The deliberate, thoughtful, reflective, and contemplative approach is a huge asset for the commercial photographer; it’s certain disaster for the golf course photographer. The best golf course photographers have developed an intuitive -- almost mystical -- ability to anticipate where to be and when to be there, and experience is the only way to develop that ability.

Finally, a photographer who has worked in the golf business for decades will fully understand the golf consumer and will know how to get and then keep that consumer’s attention. And commanding that attention, after all, is the only purpose for using photography in the first place.

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