Portfolio: Tom Shaw

A celebration of the British sporting photographer's finest work from on and off the course

Tom Shaw’s love affair with photography began at 12, when he and a group of friends took to hiking through the mountains of their native Scotland: “For those who’ve been to Scotland, you’ll know the beauty of it. We just immersed ourselves in the whole landscape, and the desire to illustrate that took hold of me.”

The discovery of a Getty Images book of sports photography while in college sparked a year of pestering the publication’s managing editor. “I phoned him every week until he finally relented,” Shaw says. When he got his opportunity, Shaw never looked back. He traveled the globe covering sports for Getty and spent 15 years as the English national cricket team’s official photographer before going out on his own in 2012.

Years of experience in different cultures and environments imbued him with a strong sense of place. “The appeal of golf is how the sport sits in the landscape,” Shaw says. “I tend to come at it from that angle. It’s similar with cricket. When you photograph cricket in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, cricketers will talk about the ‘lovely grounds.’ And it’s the same with surfing—it’s nature. I’m attracted to the sports that are formed from the natural world. It’s the vastness of being outside, and certainly golf is the epitome of that.”

In shoots from the Scottish Highlands to the south coast of England and beyond, Shaw has elevated the pages of The Golfer’s Journal by giving our readers a sense of place and a new vision of golf’s ancestral home.

[Captions by the photographer]

Champagne Taste

The Golfer’s Journal said, ‘Go to Machrihanish in November.’ I thought that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.

It’s my favorite shoot ever. It was wild and blowing, and you only get six hours of sunlight a day. It was brilliant. Hopefully that drama comes through.”

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Stock Yardage

“It’s an old thing [in England] that the golf course is on common land. It’s owned by everyone, and you’re fully allowed to graze cattle on it. I wanted to show readers something they wouldn’t normally see, and this cow on the green perfectly summed up the difference between golf over here and golf in America.”

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Slippery Slope

“We’re in a period in sports photography where the focus is on top players, not the world of the sport itself. I want to see real life, real people.

To this guy, this is his world of golf. His whole world is in this putt at scruffy Kington, and that’s just as valid a goal as going hard on a really manicured Sunningdale. He’s just as interesting to me as Tiger Woods.”

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“I spend most of my time just waiting and waiting, and then running like an idiot. If the sun comes out, I need to leg it: sit here, then go over there, then back over here. At the end of a shoot, I’ll look like I’m dying because I’ve run so much.”


Purple Haze

“I’m attracted to those sports that are formed from the natural world. It’s almost as if the landscape is the stadium. Certainly golf is the epitome of that.

I’m looking for layers three, four, five, and how they sit with each other. They don’t necessarily have to be the goal for the front. The goal could be in that second or third, but it has to work. It’s a weird thing.

The golf thing has to be strong enough, so the golf comes out, but it doesn’t dominate every other layer. It all came together at Rosapenna. This cover picture just worked beautifully because each layer worked together.”

Tom Shaw Surfing

Pray for Waves

“I’d got in touch with The Surfer’s Journal, and that’s when it all crossed over into golf. I did a surfing feature down in England’s west country. It’s completely different to how surfing is in every other part of the world. Down there it’s gray and brown, not blue and green.”

Tom Shaw British cricket


“Of the top 10 most-Googled sporting events in 2021, eight were cricket matches. One was an NBA game, and one was a soccer game in South America. You need to do The Cricketer’s Journal next!”

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