Standing out (and alone) amidst the hoopla leading up to Streamsong’s opening; the numerous writers, photographers, and pundits all clamoring for a first-take prior to our opening, is Stephen Szurlej. Like every first time visitor, Stephen could not find the golf maintenance building on the back roads of all-the-way-hell-and-gone Polk County and my first impression of him was through the direction given by my boss over the phone.
He walked in and immediately made a very pleasant second impression on all of us. I began to quite like Stephen when it became apparent he dedicated himself to knowing the property, regardless of the brief stay, before attempting to capture it by photograph.
Sadly, our golden hour window each morning and afternoon was hampered by the onset of humidity often found in early-June Florida. We needed “October skies,” which unfortunately did not match Golf Digest’s teaser piece schedule. Stephen bought the use of helicopter for two evening flights and I jumped at the chance to stay on site, lock the gate, and as it turns out, take two rides.
Stephen took to my interest in photography as a craft and we spent a good amount of time over dinner at Bonefish in Lakeland one night sharing golf stories and he was more than kind to train me on a few things in golf course photography. What follows is a mini-photo essay, both from the ground and helicopter, which exemplifies best what I learned tagging along with Stephen for those two days.
Here, three years later, and I finally get to thank him publically.
Thank you, Stephen.
I’m going to say that, scrolling through your work, the photo you claim to be your best is not. You have an understanding of the land, a sense for light and air, and an understanding of the forces that combine foreground and background into a proper photo. Keep shooting and keep posting. You’ll be spoken of in the hushed tones reserved for a Bausch and a Cavalier :)