John and Jeannine Henebry describe their artistic partnership as a “collaboration, no matter who trips the shutter.” Growing up in a tight-knit golf-loving family in Chicago prepared them for their photographic journey through the landscapes of golf. They discovered through their shared love of photography that they could “see” as through a single pair of eyes.
“I came to California to study at the Art Center in Pasadena” says Jeannine, “but John joined me here for the light.” A professional photographer friend of their father’s had recommended the Art Center, where Ansel Adams once taught. Adam’s enduring influence radiates through the Henebrys’ work.
John and Jeannine first came to Palm Springs on golf vacations as youngsters with their golf-mad Dad, but were later drawn to the artistic potential of the Coachella Valley’s golf tradition when John, having finished a series of National Geographic assignments in Asia, joined Jeannine, who was perfecting her craft with large format film as part of the Art Center curriculum. The golf course photos that launched their career were taken at PGA West’s Stadium Course, which they were the first to photograph. “We saw it first during construction, Jeannine recalls, “so we knew the artistry that went into creating what looks like a natural setting.”
The clarity of the images transformed how developers, magazine editors, and book publishers looked at golf photography. When the Henebrys started, there were fewer than 8,000 courses in the USA; by the turn of the twenty-first century, there were more than 11,000. The Henebrys were commissioned to document most of the best new courses.
Over the next three decades, from their base in California, The Henebrys photographed hundreds of famous golf courses around the world, from their ancestral Ireland to China, and from Scotland to Japan. They formed tight bonds with the leading golf course designers, who saw the beauty of their own creations in the Henebrys’ images.