Joey Conti is an accomplished golfer and photographer from Fredonia. He qualified for NYSPHSAA state golf championships within the past 5 years, and has the right amount of sass for a confident, young photographer…just check his Twitter handle. His photography is enviable, and his enthusiasm, inextinguishable. On the heels of our interview with Kyle Henzel, we decided to continue a focus on southern tier golf personalities. Have a read and a look at The Joey Conti.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a golfer.
21 years old, born and raised in Fredonia, NY. As long I can remember, I have been with my dad on the golf course. I grew up playing at a local public course (Hillview), but as I began to take my golf game more seriously, we joined Shorewood CC where I spent most of my summers in my teenage years playing and practicing.
2. Are you a recreational golfer, or have you had some competitive success?
Currently I’m just a recreational golfer, but hoping to change that up this summer as my schedule should allow for me to play (more importantly practice) a fair amount. I had a fairly successful high school playing career. My junior year I made it into the New York State tournament, and fell short by 1 shot my senior year. I played in a bunch of BDGA and WNYPGA events along the way too. I did play a year of collegiate golf at Jamestown Community College where we became the first team in school history to bring home a regional title, and placed either 6th or 7th at Nationals. Some of my best memories were from my competitive golf days. College wasn’t for me, and I decided to not go back as I was getting too busy with photography.
3. You are a photographer in real life. how did you get into photography?
I began doing photography back in 6th grade, which is actually when I started working for the local newspapers (Dunkirk Observer & Jamestown Post Journal) shooting sports. I shot mostly wrestling as my dad was the coach of the Fredonia High School team. I stopped taking pictures for a few years during high school, but got bored after graduation and decided to pick up the camera again. Things took off from there, and now I am doing photography full time.
4. What are your favorite, non-golf events to photograph, and why do you like them?
Covering concerts is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve gotten to meet and hang out with most of my favorite artists, and have met so many amazing people through music photography. Getting to travel around the world and taking pictures of beautiful girls isn’t a bad perk of the job either.
5. Switch back to golf, now. what events have you photographed in our area?
Not as many as I’d like to! I cover a fair amount of high school golf in the Chautauqua County area for the newspapers, and have covered the boys and girls sectional qualifiers over the last few years as well. I have taken pictures at a few of the New York State Championships (boys and girls) too. Here and there I will get hired to take pictures at tournaments, would love to do more of that in the upcoming seasons.
6. What have you learned along the way, that has made you a more perceptive golf photographer?
Being a fan of the sport my entire life, and a competitor myself, that has definitely helped me understand what makes a good golf photo. I see a lot of photographers out at tournaments that clearly have never played a serious round in their life and don’t know simple etiquette (don’t take pics in the back swing!). As a golfer nothing ever really bothered me, people could talk in my backswing, play music, etc… nothing ever really bothered me, but you learn little things along the way that might rub people the wrong way (and there are lots of them). Learning those has made me a more professional photographer.
7. What future plans do you have for the photography business, golf or otherwise?
Great question. No idea! One of the cool parts of my job is that I really never have an idea of what I’m doing next, or where I will wake up the following morning. Other than my weddings and a few bigger events, I don’t usually have a set schedule. I have to shoot when the weather is good, which in WNY, is about as unpredictable as my golf game. The plan for next winter is to move to either Miami or Southern California to work for the winter and then come back home for wedding season. There is lots of work out there (especially during the “winter” months), and not much goes on around here after the snowflakes start flying. As far as golf goes I would really try to get my game back in shape! I was down as low as a 2-3 handicap in high school, and am playing about a 12 right now. I’ve played about 1/10th of how much I used to play, so my game has slipped quite a bit. A couple of months of consist playing and I should be back to where I was (hopefully). If my wedding schedule aligns with the qualifier, and final tournament, I’d like to try to qualify for the Mens NYS Am this summer.
8. What would be your dream golf tournament to cover, and what would your game plan be?
Being inside the ropes at the Masters would be a dream come true. I’ve heard one of the drawbacks to attending the Masters is how massive the crowds are, easy way to avoid that would be to be inside the ropes. I don’t think my golf game will ever do that for me, so my two options are as a caddy or a photographer. I’d spend Tuesday/Wednesday walking the course looking for spots to shoot from, but would probably park myself on Amen Corner Thursday/Friday so that I could capture the entire field. I’d follow the leaders for all 18 on the weekend. Wishful thinking, I’m not sure how easily Augusta hands out media credentials.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you would love to answer? ask it and answer it, please.
Where do you see yourself in 10 Years?
My dream job would be to work for the LPGA or PGA as a full time photographer. Amazing opportunities, and much of my life would be spent on the most beautiful courses around the world. I don’t think it’s too far fetched, I think I have the skills necessary and definitely the personality for it. I get bored for sitting in one place too long, so it would be nice to get paid to travel the world.
Editor’s Note: Take a further look at Joey Conti’s work on his Instagram feed.