Just Point and Shoot – Photography in Whistler
“At any given time there are probably more people taking pictures in Whistler than any other spot in the country.” – Blake Jorgenson
We’ll probably have to add “per capita” to ensure Blake’s quote is more statistically factual but the overall message is loud and clear – Whistler has no shortage of amazing things worth photographing.
From the mind-blowing scenery of glacier-capped peaks and dense green rainforest to the high-flying antics getting thrown down daily in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park or up on the Horstman Glacier to the animated characters roaming the village strolls, Whistler is a buffet of visual awesomeness– a photographer’s dream.
And it always has been. Rick Clare opened Foto Source, Whistler’s first photo processing/camera shop, on Dec 13, 1984 and has since made a living helping both locals and guests enjoy and capture aspects of Whistler photogenic nature.
“Back in the days when single-use cameras were just starting to become common,” Rick says, “I made an order from Fuji and the guy told me I had ordered ten percent of all single-use cameras in the entire country.”
Besides supplying the entire community (and both ski hills) with all their film needs, Rick and a few photographically inclined friends also started Coast Mountain Photography where young photographers could hone their craft shooting events, commercials, weddings, and group shots for tourists.
“Over the past 15-16 years we’ve had over 300 photographers that started their careers with Coast Mountain,” Rick says. “And the best part is that these are young artistic people so it keeps me fresh as well.”
“You don’t have to be a genius to get a nice picture in Whistler.” – Dano Pendygrasse
Being the only shop in town for so many years means Rick has also been instrumental in helping the early careers of most of Whistler’s now-legendary outdoor photographers.
“Growing up and seeing local guys like Paul Morrison or Greg Griffith making a career of photography, I was able to look up to them,” says Whistler snowboard photography pioneer Dano Pendygrasse, who also spent a few years working in Rick’s shop.
“I was working in the mini lab back in ’91 and learned a lot about colour,” Dano adds. “I still use tricks I learned in that mini-lab about balancing colour.”
The mini-lab at Whistler Foto Source still develops film (“Tell all the hipsters,” Rick says) but digital technology has also revolutionized photography for the average person– quality is more accessible and anyone can take a decent picture these days. Local award-winning shooter Blake Jorgenson is on a mission to help people get more than just another nice shot. On June 22- 26, 2012, Blake hosted his third annual Whistler Outdoor Photography Workshop.
“People love the outdoors and documenting their experiences is a big part of it. Even being able to hit A-line on your bike and send shots back to your buddies at the office, that’s epic. Anyone can take a photography course in the city but this seminar is about making your entire experiences better, not just your shots.”
The workshop brought a literal who’s who of top outdoor photography professionals together for four days of lectures, hands-on sessions and demonstrations. This year’s instructors included
Paul Morrison and Eric Berger.
“None of us are expert teachers,” Blake says “but we have tons of experience and everyone has their own technique. It’s interesting because you always wonder how the other guys do things…last year the teachers learned a ton.”
LEFT: Jordan Manley discusses one of his shots. RIGHT: Students in the “classroom.”
Blake adds that the aim of the workshop and seminars is to iron out control over the camera and the situation and the communication with the subject. “Once you have that control you get better shots.”
Photo fiends that were unable to attend the full workshop got a treat this year as Blake and the other pros each held an evening lecture/slideshow to discuss some of their favourite shots of their careers. By all accounts it was an incredible symposium and Blake will be stepping it up next year.”I really want to grow this into something that will attract photographers from around the world.”
More details are on Blake’s website.
And so it evolves. From the roots in Rick’s one-hour photo developing shop through hugely popular photography events like Deep Summer or the prestigious Pro Photographer Showdown to a symposium of the outdoor industry’s best, Whistler photography continues to shine. And with such great subject matter all around us, it’s not hard to see why.