John Price’s transition from point and shoot amateur to pro adventure photographer hinged on being able to make every opportunity count
As fall falls away and winter slowly sputters into gear, many of us looking at the leafless trees and the ever-shortening days could use a bit of a pick-me-up. When espresso and ginseng aren’t doing the trick, it can often help to live vicariously from someone who is feeling the stoke. Cue Canmore based photographer John Price, whose exploits with a camera will leave you dreaming of your next adventure.
In 2015, John Price was a man caught between two worlds: that of a nine-to-fiver, and that of a weekend warrior with a penchant for photography. While he wanted to break into the imaging-making biz full time, his daytime commitments were holding him back. He knew he had to devote himself to his passion if he wanted to pursue photography as a career, however, as long as he had somewhere other than the mountains to be, he knew he wouldn’t be able to make the transition. It took the encouragement of a friend and fellow Bow Valley shooter, Paul Zizka, for Price to finally take the leap. “Paul told me that one of the biggest steps of doing this as a career was having the ability to say yes to every opportunity,” Price said.
That summer, Price started saying yes. When friends gave him a day’s notice to go climbing, he said yes. When the light on local peaks went from flat to magical, he said yes. When multi-day trips were being dreamed up, Price’s unequivocal answer was yes. At the end of 2015, he had 120,000 images in his computer’s catalog.
Of course, when it came to anything that cost money, his answer had to be no. Gone were the craft beer nights and spontaneous lunch dates. Gone was the new gear kitty; his old stuff would have to do. But soon enough, his sacrifices were paying off. His portfolio was rapidly expanding. His skills were rapidly developing.
“I wanted to speed those things up as quickly as possible,” he said.
In fact, his transition from interested amateur to pro shooter was similar to his development as a climber. Having
moved to Canada in 2012 with very little alpine experience, the Aussie landed a retail job with a flexible schedule and spent every hour away from the store climbing or planning his next trip. He got out on a rope more than 60 times that winter; same thing in the summer.
“I guess I’m kind of impatient when it comes to learning,” he joked.
That need for immediate feedback was the subject matter for a 2016 documentary on Price’s work. Tommy Day’s “At What Price” explores the dynamics of social media when it comes to showcasing one’s ideal self to friends and followers. In the film, Price is shown as a talented content creator who is conflicted with his desire to share what he experiences and his responsibility to do so truthfully.“It’s not a perfect life full of positivity,” he says. “But that’s what our images often show. On the flip, you have to put out your best work.
“It’s a balancing act.”
Price’s balancing act these days has to do with continuing to engage audiences, teach workshops and shoot commercially, while at the same time, staying active in his family’s life. He rarely leaves the camera at home, but when he does, he tries to stay present.
“I was walking
my stepdaughter to school this morning when the mountains just started exploding,” he said. “I didn’t have my camera but it was just good to be there, in the moment.”
And of course he’s still finding the stoke. Before the latest snow flurries thrilled Canadian Rockies winterphiles, Price and a buddy were scoping a new drytoo
l route in the Lake Louise area. He wouldn’t dare reveal the exact location.
“My friend would kill me,” he laughed.