Step Up Your Teaching by Conducting a Photo Shoot

by Brian Dobak
February 20, 2011

Allow me to preface this article by saying that there are probably many, many full-time teaching professionals out there that could write a better article on this subject than I could. But for what it's worth, I figured I would give it a shot.

One of the biggest ways I have found to promote yourself as a teacher is what Gale Peterson once told me, “presentation”. From how your clinics are set up, how your private lessons are managed, and the instructional documents you distribute to your students. This article is going to touch on instructional documents and the photographs that accompany them. Depending on what heights you want to take your teaching to, it may be in your best interest to have a database of pictures of yourself in various stages of the various swings that you can then utilize for a litany of purposes including magazine articles, marketing photos, and instructional documents. Allow me to elaborate:

For quite some time, whenever I would give a lesson or a clinic, I would and still try to get everyone’s email address for the purposes of sending them a recap and staying in some sort of communication with them. Within the recaps I would accompany pictures of certain stages of the swing that were tailored to the student I was emailing. Often, I would get these pictures from the internet, mainly Google Images. After a while, it kind of dawned on me that I needed to step it up a notch. I needed to start personalizing the information that I distributed to the students. Instead of sending them pictures of random golfers or tour players they can’t relate to, I needed to start sending them these same kinds of pictures but of myself.

Additionally, I decided that I didn't want to rely on email. I thought I could continue to take advantage of email to maintain communication, but I also needed to start giving the students an opportunity to leave the lesson with something tangible in their hands. This is so they can feel they got something more out of the lesson than just my time and instruction, like a complimentary instruction card with a few sequence pictures of myself, a brief written step-by-step of the swing being applied, and my contact information.

I had always seen the notebook/picture books that the teachers at my facility were using, so I based my pictures largely on that. However it was the actual execution of the photo shoot that was going to be the challenge. At the first realization that I wanted to do this, I was excited to do it and add some flare to the presentation of my instruction, however I was quickly and rightfully grounded by Gale, and I found out it was going to require patience because of reasons I will discuss later. I got some great advice from Gale on how to properly execute such photo shoots and go home with quality pictures to layout and present to the students. If you're in Florida for a winter or you have time in the spring or summer, these could be great times to conduct these photo shoots. Remember, it’s all about “presentation” and if you’re going to do a photo shoot of this nature, you might as well as do it right and do as they say in the deep south, a “jam-up” job.


This is the expensive part of the project and sometimes the most difficult part to commit to. I was very fortunate that an acquaintance of mine was the photographer in the marketing department of my club. He was open to doing the photo shoot for free, but in exchange for a few lessons. This was no problem for me. Of course, not everybody has this type of situation, so you’re going to have to figure out what your budget is and what you’re willing to do to make this photo shoot happen. Research local photographers and explain your project and you never know, one might be willing to do it in exchange for lessons and/or a round of golf at your club. However a personal digital camera can often suffice, I've done a few shoots with my own personal camera and the pictures came out quite well.


When having your swings photographed, one of the key elements of a good picture is using the sunlight to your advantage. The best time to do a photo shoot is in the morning or in the late afternoon. This is because light is much more effective for photographic purposes when it is shining at you rather than shining on top of you. In the middle of the day, the sun is on top of you and the pictures do not come out as bright, natural, or clean as when the sun is coming from an angle. Also, whether the shoot is in the morning or the afternoon, make sure you set up so the sunlight is behind the photographer and shining at you. Long story short, always follow the sun.

Third Person

If the photographer is not a golf professional or doesn't know a lick about the golf swing, then it is of utmost importance to have a third person that knows the proper positions in the golf swing, like a golf professional, with you. Let's face it, our swings are not perfect, and you can't see yourself performing the sequences while the camera is clicking. The photographer likely will not know if your wrists need to be hinged more, the club needs to be extended more, or your feet need to be wider. You need a third person there, preferably an experienced teaching professional, that can coach your through the sequences. In this process, you'll learn a lot about how your swing stacks up in photos.


There are two sides to the coin when it comes to weather and the time of the year you choose to do the photo shoot during. You might want to do the photo shoot in cool weather, preferably late spring or early fall, maybe not the heat of the summer. Remember, these pictures are in essence a marketing tool, and you can’t be drenched in sweat in the pictures. However in the summer, days are longer and the sun is brighter, so you may want to consider that as well.


Have an itinerary mapped out before hand. Do not go into the photo shoot and wing it. You won’t be able to go from swing to swing or angle to angle in an efficient manner and the photo shoot could take much longer than necessary. Don’t go into it blind. Have a plan and stick to it.
  • Designate a dozen or so areas throughout the practice facility and the golf course(s) that are appropriate to each aspect of the game. Do not go into the shoot with out a clue or you’ll be driving around in your shuttle cart spending aimless time looking for spots instead of knowing exactly where you want to go and when. Also, make sure you have some scenic spots because once again, these pictures are in essence a marketing tool and you don’t want all of the pictures to be in the same background. Switch it up.

You’re a golf professional, so keep it professional and wear pants. Have a pair of khaki pants and a pair of black pants. If you're going to shoot for a full day and hit every kind of swing/stroke, bring two or three solid shirts, preferably colors that contrast well with a green background. Striped shirts don’t do well in pictures of this nature. It’s important to make a few shirt changes and pant changes. You don’t want all of your pictures to be the same with regard to what you’re wearing. Change it up so it looks like you’ve done this more than once. Once again, you’re marketing yourself. Make sure your attire looks timeless. Wear classic style golf shoes that won't look out of date ten years from now. White shoes may be the best for these kinds of photo shoots as they contrast well with the ground.

Spray Paint

Spray paint will be one of your best friends on this photo shoot for a couple of reasons. You may want to draw alignment lines so that viewers have a reference of your feet alignment, ball position, and where you are aiming. Spray painting lines will also give the photographer a reference point when lining up and taking the shots. Additionally, so the pictures are relatively identical and there isn’t much variation with regard to proximity between you and the photographer, you may want to spray paint a dot for where you’re going to stand and a dot for where the photographer is going to stand, so the both of you can return to those points should you leave for a break or a shot check.


Having a tripod might be optional. Some photographers have a steady hand, some don’t. A tripod will come in handy as it will minimize the shaking of the camera during the shots. Additionally, having a tripod that is adjustable will help greatly. Preferably one that can go as high as 50 feet to capture full shot shapes or clinic set-ups, etc.

Grip Shots

When your shooting your grip shots that will be up close, make sure you’re wearing a fresh, brand new glove. Remember, you’re marketing yourself. Don’t wear a browned out glove aged in sweat from the summer’s heat. Keep it clean and professional. Maybe even wear a glove with your club logo on it to personalize the pictures. Or you may opt to wear a standard Foot Joy or Titleist glove so the pictures are timeless and you can use the pictures in the future when you're at a different facility.

Vanity Shots

Have some pictures taken of your self next to your staff bag. Look professional and stand tall. You never know, you may have opportunities to publish articles in local magazines and newspapers, and the editor typically requires a high-resolution photo of yourself in a golf environment. What better pictures than to be standing next to your staff back with a big smile on your face, showing those pearly whites!

There you have it. Hopefully this gives you some perspective into a subject that you may encounter in your teaching career. Depending on your depth of commitment to becoming a better teacher and pushing yourself as far as possible, a photo shoot for the purposes outlined in this article may be in your best interest. At the very least, it’s a great learning experience. When you walk away from your first few photo shoots, you learn A LOT about your own swing. For the purposes of photographs, you likely will not be in the correct positions that you might think you're in, it's just that simple. It helped tremendously to have Gale as the outside perspective to guide me through the frames.

As you can see, there is a lot to accomplish with photo shoots of this nature and there is a lot to learn as well. At the end of the day, you'll have some great pictures and you'll be well on your way to making instructional documents that will serve as a great marketing tool for you and a training aid for your students.

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