Barry Grimes taught himself to be one of golf’s distinctive lensmen
Words by Justin HousmanPhotos by Barry Grimes
Light / Dark
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or, if you’re Barry Grimes, when life snatches away your golf apparel company’s favorite lifestyle photographer, you buy a camera and start shooting your own brand of world-class photography. Grimes, a designer and artist who helped build the Ashworth clothing brand from the start, including creating the iconic “Golfman” logo, was working on promotional shoots for the company in the early 1990s. For one particularly large shoot, the company flew golf pros, clothing and camera equipment to Hawaii, but Grimes’ regular photographer announced, out of the blue, that he’d doubled his daily rate. Aghast, Ashworth bit the bullet and paid the fee, while Grimes immediately started looking for a replacement. Somehow, he ended up being the man for the job.
“All the photographers I talked to were good, but they had their own styles and I knew they’d force their own visions onto the shoots,” Grimes says. He’d studied art at Troy University in his home state of Alabama, had been a graphic designer in one form or another since his teens and believed that he had the specific eye for Ashworth’s singular look. Photography was a completely new medium from a technical standpoint, but Grimes was undaunted. “I figured what the hell, I’d just do it myself. I could make this work,” he says. Not only did Grimes make it work, but he also discovered a profound love of photography.
His subsequent success in the industry proves just how right he was, as do the images on the following pages. In the process, Grimes has produced one of the game’s most arresting portfolios. Much of his work consists of intimate, tight shots taken in black and white or muted sepia tones, creating drama and moodiness in his subjects. Grimes insists that this was a stylistic choice with a bonus: It saved money on lifestyle and product shoots.
“When I first started taking photos, most other shots out there were these deep-field-of-focus, full-color images where everything looked too perfect,” he says. “I hated it. I really like small-depth-of-field, shallow-focus images—maybe because I’m nearsighted—so I focused on those.” Plus, using just two colors in photos saved a ton on printing. “Black and white was key because of cost, but it looked great too. Necessity was the mother of invention there,” he says.
For years, Grimes put together Ashworth’s Yardage Book annual, handling all the photography and layouts, turning what could have been an ordinary clothing catalog into a piece of art. When the company sold in the mid-2000s, Grimes turned most of his attention to a design and branding consulting business he runs today with his wife in Southern California.
But golf photography remains a passion. Shooting the game has been an opportunity for Grimes—who came to golf only just before he started photographing it—to travel to some of the world’s best courses. He considers it something close to a blessing. Those adventures have led to a wonderfully eclectic life in the game, from dinners with legendary Scottish teacher John Stark to handling Bobby Jones’ tournament-winning clubs in private collections.