Golf apparel may not be the first association one makes when thinking about what’s fashionable, but lifestyle brand Malbon Golf is making headway on and off the fairway, and turning heads. Founded in 2017 by culture and golf enthusiasts Erica and Stephen Malbon, its stated mission is simple: inspire today’s youth to participate in the greatest game on earth. As part of the careful curation of its brand and their fourth project together, Malbon commissioned Charlotte, North Carolina-based fashion photographer Jackson Ray Petty to capture assets for its new Health Seekers and Golfers collection.
Our first projects together we shot in my studio which is a much different process than this location shoot. Experience with lighting fashion shoots in-studio was definitely something I was able to deliver that helped them pick me. But, from the beginning, I always suggested getting out of the studio and into an environment where these products are meant to be worn. I also have experience working with other golf apparel brands so I think that also helped.
The talent for this project, and the three prior, was Jacob Golliday, aka the“Jesus of Golf,” a professional golfer and personal friend of Stephen Malbon.
Jacob and I met through a really talented stylist, Jess Anderson who I have worked with on a number of projects.
The preplanning for the project was conducted remotely, with the exception of a quick scouting mission the night before the shoot.
I use an app on my phone to get an idea of where the sun will be, and then suggest which order of locations I think would be best. Sometimes that’s not possible depending on when we have access but I think it helps.
The goal of the images and the location was to promote a golf tournament Malbon will be hosting in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
They really wanted to get some content that featured iconic areas around the town. Pinehurst is actually a very small town, so anyone who has been there probably recognizes where we were shooting.
We had a number of locations around town mostly in public places, but also a golf course, and an antique golf shop let us shoot inside before they opened.
In terms of the company’s brand, Malbon’s playfulness is a measured approach.
It’s really synonymous with the resurgence in popularity golf is seeing amongst younger people. It nods to the traditions of golf, but it isn’t governed by them. They’re the kind of clothes that skateboarders would wear when golfing, or maybe skateboarding.
The photoshoot took place at the end of April, with a small and “close-knit” crew
The energy was great, very relaxed which makes things more fun. I had one assistant and we had a stylist on site helping put the outfits together and make any adjustments to fit. The shoot took a whole day.
Because the crew was so small, it did put some constraints on us, but thankfully I was working with some really talented people so we were actually able to move really quickly even if it was all hands on deck sometimes.
As this was their fourth project together, Jackson and his subject had established a solid rapport.
Jacob and I work great together. He was very familiar with the town and had great ideas of where we could shoot. I’m big on collaboration with my subjects if they’re up for it. I think everyone really enjoys the process more when they feel like they are contributing, so I always like to hear them out. I don’t really think too hard about how I am going to establish a connection with my subjects. I just treat people with respect and joke around a bit with them to keep it light and that hasn’t failed me yet.
In terms of logistical challenges, this outdoor shoot, like many, contended with unpredictable weather conditions. But Jackson’s spirit was not dampened, and his endurance paid off.
We had thunderstorms coming in and out the whole time. Total blue skies and then all of a sudden thunderstorms for an hour, then back to sunshine —that probably happened three times throughout the day. I was always watching the radar on my phone and trying to time if we could fit in the next location, or if we should switch to somewhere indoors, or just wait it out.
Funny enough I really like the rich colors in some of the shots because everything is soaking wet but in the sun. Some productions have to jump through a lot of hoops to spray down the location to get the same effect so in some ways, it helped.
And though fortune can be as fickle as the rain, for those who brave it, there’s a rich and colorful humor.
One of the weirdest things about this day was how many lucky things happened, it really felt like the universe was on our side. It really felt like anything I spoke out loud came true. For example, during the scout, I mentioned that it would be great if some horses were on the track, and they were the next morning when we arrived! There was one location that was in the street and I was trying to make it work, and then a bus came by for a second and I got a few shots of Jacob in front, and it totally saved that look. Also, it was raining so much, I joked it would be great if we could at least get a rainbow, and it appeared an hour later right down the fairway.
After this most recent project with Malbon Golf, Jackson was happy to report:
I think this shoot definitely reinforced the idea that it’s good to have a plan, but also to be open to what opportunities reveal themselves in the moment and be prepared to take advantage of that.
See more of Jackson’s work on his website.
Read about Jackson on our blog.