David Cannon: The rise of a legendary golf photographer


Together with his surname, you can say that David Cannon was predestined for a profession behind the lens.

Upon receiving the PGA of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Photojournalism in Might, the 67-year-old was lauded for his “technical mastery and inventive proficiency.”

But whereas his first skilled digital camera was a Canon, the Englishman’s journey to changing into one of many world’s main sports activities photographers was something however fated: he by no means even had any formal coaching.

Born in Sussex, Cannon was a gifted golfer in his youth, boasting a handicap of 1. Competing at a number of novice tournaments, he completed eighth on the British Youths Golf Championship in 1974 and performed alongside a younger Nick Faldo on the following yr’s event.

However sharing the fairways with the longer term six-time main winner extinguished any hopes Cannon had of an expert enjoying profession.

“After I performed with him [Faldo], it was like ‘Oh sh*t, I’m not even in the identical league,’” he informed CNN Sport. “He was simply one thing else.”

Needing a job to cowl the dearth of economic reward in novice golf, Cannon labored at a nylon sheet firm, however after 4 years was craving for a change of tempo. When an impromptu dialog with household pal Neville Chadwick, a photographer on the Leicester Information Service, provided the possibility to snap some native sporting occasions, Cannon was all in.

Promoting his automobile to fund a small telephoto lens and a digital camera – naturally, a Canon AE-1 – quickly after he was sitting in a rugby stadium for a New Zealand Tour match in November 1979.

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The 24-year-old was armed with simply two suggestions which have served as the premise of his craft ever since: “Concentrate on the eyes and fill the body.”

“I used to be off, that was it. The lightbulb switched on,” Cannon mentioned. “Enjoying golf immediately took an enormous again seat and each spare minute I had was shopping for cameras with spare cash, taking footage, going to video games.”

In 1983, having lined all the pieces from the Commonwealth Video games in Australia to FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Honduras, he joined the esteemed AllSport images company. Although acquired by Getty Photographs in 1998, Cannon has successfully labored there ever since, specializing in golf to rapidly grow to be one of the vital recognizable names within the area.

“I’ve cherished each minute of it,” he mentioned, and there have definitely been lots of minutes to like.

Cannon has lined over 700 occasions and virtually 200 males’s and girls’s majors, in keeping with an interview with the Ryder Cup, the biennial occasion he has labored at 17 occasions.

Cannon’s eye-watering estimates of his profession stats: 3.4 million frames shot, 2.6 million miles flown, 115 international locations visited, 5,000 nights slept in lodges and 13,000 miles of golf programs walked.

Cannon's shot of Argentinian icon Diego Maradona at the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

But Cannon insists it’s a mandatory dedication. Whereas sports activities like soccer will supply photographers – on the very least – the chance to snap celebrations virtually each match, the much less dynamic nature of golf could make for slender pickings.

“You’ll be able to go six months not less than – in all probability two years – with out getting a unbelievable ultimate freeze image,” he defined.

“Golf could be very sluggish. Folks don’t understand how bodily it’s to {photograph} golf. You’ll be able to stroll 25,000 paces in a day, and all you’re getting is particular person pictures of golfers hitting the ball and nothing very fascinating in the event that they’re down on fairways on a regular basis.”

Thankfully for Cannon, his profession has coincided with a few of golf’s most iconic gamers, a lot of whom he has come to know personally.

Conserving in contact with Faldo, he turned good associates with Ernie Els and acquired to know Greg Norman – a trio with 12 main wins between them – and had a entrance row seat to the height of the Tiger Woods period on the flip of the century.

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Photographing Rory McIlroy and newly topped US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick since they had been amateurs, he has had the enjoyment of following their journeys from the grassroots to lifting a few of golf’s largest titles.

Cannon had been escorting McIlroy to the Royal Liverpool clubhouse for media duties following his 2014 Open win when he shot this spontaneous moment.

But one title stands above all others: Seve Ballesteros. “By no means meet your heroes,” the adage goes, however Cannon not solely had the enjoyment of snapping his all-time sporting idol, he additionally turned a detailed pal.

A portrait of the legendary Spaniard captured close to his dwelling in Pedreña in 1996 stays one among Cannon’s most beloved footage. And his pictures of the five-time main champion’s iconic fist pump celebration at St. Andrews en path to a 1984 Open win are a number of the most enduring pictures of Ballesteros, who died from mind most cancers in 2011.

“It’s in all probability essentially the most defining image of my profession,” Cannon mentioned. “Of a second, that’s my favourite.”

Ballesteros' iconic celebration at St. Andrews in 1984, as captured by Cannon.

When Cannon took that picture, his 36-exposure digital camera afforded him simply 25 footage to select from the entire sequence. Immediately, he would have 5 extra footage to select from in a single second. But whereas expertise has modified dramatically, the rules of sports activities images haven’t.

David Cannon poses with camera gear on March 7, 2017 in London.

Cannon was reminded of one among these guiding guidelines when – caddying for his skilled golfer son Chris – he overanalyzed a swing from three holes earlier.

“‘Dad, that’s one factor you’ve acquired to be taught, there’s a ten second rule in golf,’” Cannon remembers his son saying. “’Ten seconds after you’ve hit the shot, you can not get it again, you may’t do something about it, you’ve acquired to place it out of your thoughts.’

“That rule works precisely the identical in images. Should you miss it, you may’t return and get it. Should you’re at a sporting occasion, it’s by no means going to occur once more. I discover that fairly a helpful rule.”

Cannon captures the moment Scottie Scheffler sinks his putt to win the Masters at Augusta in April.

One of many craft’s most vital expertise is to preemptively sense a narrative or second and transfer to organize accordingly. It’s simpler mentioned than executed on programs spanning miles of fairway, with a number of video games happening without delay, however the recommendation can supply nice rewards.

These had been reaped in abundance by Cannon on the Alfred Dunhill Cup in 1999 by his shot of basketball icon Michael Jordan and Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia engaged in a footrace throughout the St. Andrews fairways, as soon as described as “the best golf picture of all time” in Golf Digest.

Overhearing Jordan and Garcia goading one another on the primary tee, Cannon determined to remain out and monitor the duo previous the third gap, the purpose at which the newspaper photographers – reluctant to trek any farther from the clubhouse – determined to move again in.

Garcia leads Jordan in a sprint down the 16th fairway of the St. Andrews Old Course during the Pro-Am of the Alfred Dunhill Cup, 1999.

“I heard Jordan say to Garcia, ‘Would you like a operating race, boy?’” Cannon recalled.

“It was actually good enjoyable to comply with them that day, and from that second onwards, I walked a pair hundred yards forward of them on a regular basis.”

It’s the type of know-how that has saved Cannon on the prime of his area for over 4 a long time. Not dangerous for somebody with no formal coaching.

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