Channing Benjamin’s Amazing Golf Photography
By Tim Cotroneo
Golf Photographer Channing Benjamin likes to break his profession down into simplest terms. Benjamin doesn’t see his craft necessarily being about technique, or even about using a specific camera. Benjamin believes there’s a connection between the light, the subject, and his “eye.”
Benjamin’s past, present, and future sights are set on the best golf courses in the world. His porfolio is an amazing mix of color, landscapes, and golf courses showing off their best possible features.
Benjamin’s Southern California home base has no shortage of spectacular 18-hole layouts, but his global photographic reach has no bounds. We reached out to this visual artist to find out what makes him tick and learn about the stories behind his stunning photos.
Questions and Answers with Channing Benjamin of Channing Benjamin Photography.
Q: What memory stands out about your photography experience at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, CA. (photo above)
BIGHORN Golf Club is paradise on earth. It is one of the most exclusive luxury communities in the US. This image is no exception to the beauty that surrounds these homes and golf holes.
Where are you based?
Channing Benjamin: I am based out of Palm Springs, CA
Q: How did this photo of PGA West in La Quinta, CA come about?
I captured this photo while on assignment for the American Experience PGA Tour event at PGA West. Such a stunning contrast is evident from high above the many palm trees. This is the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course which offers a real challenge for the golfer, and the photographer.
Q: How did you get started in photography?
CB: I fell in love with with photography after years in the television industry as a concert video director for various world reknowned musicial artist.
Q: What were the circumstances leading up to this shot of Silver Rock, also in La Quinta, CA.
When I view this image, I always think of how sick I was the day of this shoot! Flu-like symptoms didn’t keep me from taking advantage of the opportunity to capture the early morning scene here in California desert. The course was closed so having the property to myself afforded me unique opportunities and angles.
Q: What is your favorite camera or “go to” camera?
CB: My favorite camera is the latest Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera and the DJI Mavic 3 drone.
Q: How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
CB: A combination of things. I often surround myself with other photographers through my own photography workshops (The Golfography Experience) who share their own insight, some YouTube tutorials on different styles, and getting out there and trying different techniques in the field.
“Pebble Beach Golf Links® and its distinctive images and hole designs are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. Used under license.”
Q: Pebble Beach is considered a photographer’s dream landscape. What are your memories of this assignment?
Pebble Beach Golf Links has been photographed countless times throughout its many yers, so its always a challenge to find a new perspective. I managed to do just that here in this never before seen view of the iconic 9th hole. Such a great spot!
Q: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
CB: More about the camera itself. My creative experience never warranted technical expertise. I always had an engineer and technical director in the video world. There’s a big difference shooting in auto mode vs manual mode!
Q: What is your photographic niche and what is it about this niche that appeals, inspires, or satisfies you?
CB: As a golf course photographer, my niche would be capturing the course and landscape at the right time of day from the ground and the air. That time is usually sunrise and sunset. There’s magic in the golden hour and usually golfers aren’t on the course early enough or late enough to experience that. Every course is beautiful, at the right time of day.
Within the last decade, the Rees Jones-designed TPC Danzante Bay has been added to the bucket list of best golf destinations in the world. What are your memories of their 17th hole and the Islands of Loreto?
One of Mexico’s finest courses (and holes), TPC Danzante Bay is a treat to play and photograph. The birdseye view here of the signature 17th hole gives a proper perspective to how beautiful this place is!
Q: Talk about the preparation that goes into your photography?
CB: I like to scout the location well in advance of the actual shoot day. The best scouting is done by playing the course. In doing that I can locate signature holes, when the lighting may be best on that hole, as well as grasp three subtle nuances that three course may present.
Q: What is special or unique about shooting golf photography.
CB: It takes a certain eye to fully encapsulate the beauty of the landscape and the course. Getting the shot is one thing, but seeing the shot is something else!
Q: What do you try to say in your photographs?
CB: That golf is beautiful whether you play it or not. The game itself is tough, but there’s always beauty to celebrate even on those bad days.
Q: Is there an under the radar course in the U.S. or internationally that really speaks to you as a photographer?
CB: Ballyneal Golf Club in Holyoke, Colorado. (photo above) Well, it’s kind of under the radar. It’s a Tom Doak design that is ranked high but not many know if it (private course). The topography of the land mixed with ever changing western weather creates some dramatic images.
Q: You started a business called the Golfography Experience. Tell us about this unique experience combining golf and photography.
CB: After years of requests for “photo workshops” from followers and fans of my work, I decided to create something more of an “experience” than a “workshop”. Its a weekend of building relationships with like minded individuals, some intimate photography instruction, a couple rounds of golf, and a really good time!
Q: Anything I haven’t asked that you’d like readers to know about you or your photography?
CB: My work is an extension in my belief in the heavenly father. It is because of Him that I am. There is nothing special about what I do, but there is something truly special about what He has created!