Jacob Sjöman is a true rock star when it comes to capturing the beauty and uniqueness of golf courses all around the world. His fresh and outside the box approach can be sensed through his stunning work behind the camera. The team here at Golf GameBook has always been amazed and inspired by Jacob’s work and we are thrilled to partner with him on a quest to discover the hidden photographer talent out there.
In addition to embarking on a visual jaw-dropping trip of “must go-to” golfing destinations, we will be creating a series of educational content aimed at taking better photos while on (and off) the golf course. This content series will be exclusively available for you through Golf GameBook and as a member of Golf GameBook you can get the full benefit of Jacob’s content.
Jacob’s special profile is now up and running on Golf GameBook. Just follow him to enjoy his work as well as for full access to his virtual classroom of visual arts.
We had the opportunity to pick his brain…
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and your ambitions?
I am a very positive 36 year old guy from Stockholm where I live with my family. I like adventures and got a lot of energy. I always try to cheer for others and to learn something new every day.
My ambitions are set quite high since I am a very competitive person by nature. I would describe myself as a very friendly person but my wife has told me I could be the worst person she knows when it comes to playing games with others.. I guess that says something about how I can be in competitions – this a bit sad, but I am working on it and it gets better.
The biggest goal for me is to be a good father to our two wonderful daughters and a good husband to my wife. To me nothing can beat the time that you spend with your family.
Tell us a bit more about when did you start taking photos and especially why did you choose to focus on golf?
I was 24 when I applied for a renowned Photography school and was luckily accepted among 400 applicants as one of twenty. Funny thing, was that when I applied I had to do a test just to see how much I knew about photography. And I had 0,5 points out of 40. A total failure and up until today I don’t know if they did something wrong in that application process but I was happy to get in there.
But I did not realise until I was 28 I also could focus on golf photography. Kind of funny since I’ve been so close to golf for almost all my life but didn’t do the obvious connection with photography.
You travel 80-100 days a year, we must know your travel essentials?
Plenty of cameras! Haha… no, but actually I fill up my bags with a lot of technical stuff since this is a part of my work and I am kind of a crazy gadget-guy. On my recent trips I brought a Nintendo Switch-game playing the fantastic Zelda-game. Yes, I am still 36 years old and playing video games. I am a big sucker for nostalgic things and this was a good way for me to unwind a bit since I work very hard when I am out on assignments and this actually helped me to calm down a bit. Anyone who played Zelda back in the Nintendo-days will hopefully understand this. 🙂
The obvious question, what do you have in your camera bag?
I normally work with up to 3 different Canon-cameras from ground, plus operating a X7-camera mounted on a DJI Inspire 2-drone when producing photos and videos from air. I use Manfrotto-tripods in carbon to save some weight while travelling.
For most of my assignments, I prefer using the Canon 5Ds as the first camera since it captures very big RAW-files and produces great quality, especially when it’s used on a tripod and can capture several exposures to receive the biggest dynamic range in the pictures. For all the Canon cameras I’ve got 7 different Canons EF-lenses (EF stands for Canons professional line of high quality lenses) this covers me from everything from ultra wide angle 14mm lenses up to zoomed in 400mm Tele Lens for close-ups. My favorite lens is the EF 70-200mm f.2,8L IS II. I also bring a lot of different filters. I should mention that I normally bring at least two bags for my camera gear.
In your opinion, can you take good golf course pics with mobile phones?
Yes, you can definitely capture a good golf course photo with your mobile phone. However, I wouldn’t shoot any golf course photos with my phone since the quality I receive from my DSLR-cameras is far superior. The big question is in fact of how you will use your golf course photo in the end. Is it only for a small photo you are going to post on instagram or do you would like to frame it really big over your bed at home?
What is your best advice for a sunday golfer taking pictures for social media posts?
I would recommend to be different and really take your time to get it right when shooting photos. Rushing things will not do any good. Regarding light, I would recommend to capture your photos just after sunrise and before sunset when the sun highlights the shapes of the golf course and the landscape looks nicer. Even for portraits this time works very well. Try to work with reflectors
If you capture photos from golfers. Also don’t forget to try low angles, high angles and work with light. Remember to not oversaturate your photos and finding your own style will boost your content.
I would recommend to be different and really take your time to get it right when shooting photos. Rushing things will not do any good.
After shooting almost 300 golf courses, which one stands out as most picturesque?
That’s a very tough question for sure. As politicians here in Sweden, I will give you two answers. The most dramatic golf course I’ve captured through my lenses is Cape Kidnappers. The whole location with jaw dropping cliffs and a golf course like nothing you’ve seen before is unique.
But, since Cape Kidnappers works far better with photos captured from air compared to actually standing on the ground. I would go for Lofoten Links in Norway when shooting photos from the ground. Lofoten Links is just incredible in every direction, and trust me, there are few golf courses that looks great in 360 degrees. Even Augusta has trouble achieving that benchmark.
Your goal as a golf photographer? Where would you like to take the perfect picture?
My main goal is to be the number one golf photographer in the world. I am still searching for a perfect spot and where everything comes together perfectly. This might be a boring answer, but I would like to capture the perfect picture on a new golf course that nobody have seen or heard of before.
My main goal is to be the number one golf photographer in the world.
How much time you spend on post-production to perfect the pictures?
From the beginning I spent much more time on post-production compared to how much time I spend today. Now I use many filters instead and using several presets that I’ve programmed after many years of trial-and-error. I like when I can apply something directly when I am out and capturing these photos. I believe this also helps me to get my own style of photos. I would say that the less time you can spend on post-production for a picture, the better quality and scene you’ve got from the start. Post-production is important, especially when you are out on golf courses when the weather conditions are bad and the golf course is poorly maintained.
How about your favourite courses to play?
I had so much fun when I played Tara Iti in New Zealand last year, and the same goes for Cape Wickham Links on King Island in Australia. Just pure, fun golf offering great ocean views. I must not forget Castle Stuart Links in Scotland, brilliant and awesome golf experience.
What would be a perfect foursome if you could play who ever you want? And where would you like to play with this dream team?
Since it is kind of fiction, I would go with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. Did I just count wrong? No, I would just walk by their side during this round and be the caddie for all of them. I might try to hand them some different club than they normally would use just to spice it up. I’ve clearly sneaked in a camera in this giant bag as well. The place for this would be Cypress Point.