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Photographer David Cannon, responsible for some of golf’s most iconic images, is to receive the Lifetime Achievement in Photojournalism award from the PGA of America on 18 May. Cannon, who has amassed over 40 years of experience as a golf photographer, will be the second recipient of the award. His late friend Leonard Kamsler received the inaugural honour in January 2020.
Cannon launched his career in 1978 when one of his photographs, from a rugby union match featuring the New Zealand All Blacks, was used in the Sunday Express. After that, Cannon shot the 1981 World Match Play, then his first Major, the Open Championship, the following year – a run that continues today. In 1983, Cannon joined Allsport, where he initially concentrated on football photography before turning to golf. By the time Getty Images bought the company in 1998, he was firmly established as a master of his craft.
Cannon was a talented amateur golfer during his late teens and early 20s, playing against the likes of Sir Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle. In 1974, he was even selected for the English youth squad training program. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that he would make a perfect fit as a golf photographer. However, of the estimated 3.4 million frames Cannon has taken to date, it’s his iconic shots of Seve Ballesteros that are perhaps the most celebrated, with the one taken following his winning putt in the 1984 Open particularly memorable. “In 1984, when Ballesteros won the Open for the second time, I got what has become an iconic sequence of him holing that famous putt on 18, which I presented to him. He was really appreciative of those pictures and what they represented.”
Cannon also worked on every Ryder Cup between 1985 and 2018 and was the official European team photographer for all but the first 10 of those years. That 33-year run ended due to travel restrictions in 2021, but it’s that event that he takes most pleasure from: “It’s the way the players react, their emotions. You get more celebration and emotive moments in three days than you do in 12 months on tour,” explains Cannon. Now aged 66, Cannon is not finished yet, stating: “Over the last 40 years, my ambition has been to leave an important legacy to the sport. And while I am not done just yet, I hope this award serves as an annual reminder that photographers put an awful lot into the game of golf.”
Explaining the PGA of America’s decision, president Jim Richerson said: “David Cannon’s choice images have long served the game of golf as historical markers that allow the greatest stories to be shared in the visual form in perpetuity. His technical mastery and artistic proficiency are renowned, but it is his warm smile and enthusiasm for his craft that made him an institution in Major Championship golf circles. On behalf of the PGA of America, I salute David for his career achievements in the area of photojournalism and look forward to more in the years to come.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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