Sniper Action Photo captures adventure

Radio frequency-triggered photography is the foundational concept behind Sniper Action Photo

Dave Grimsdell (L) and Ryan Johnson, founders of Sniper Action Photos, installed cameras for Rockland Estates in St. Martin.

Dave Grimsdell (L) and Ryan Johnson, founders of Sniper Action Photos, installed cameras for Rockland Estates in St. Martin. — Photo courtesy Sniper Action Photo

The success of Sniper Action Photo, a two-man Revelstoke company, is pretty much an entrepreneur’s dream come true.

The story starts with Dave Grimsdell. He was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, and moved to Whistler, B.C., for the snowboarding and mountain biking. After 10 years there, he moved to Revelstoke and realized he had no photos of himself in Whistler, doing the activities he loved—no record of the incredible fun he’d had.

“No one wants to be the guy standing beside the trail taking pictures,” Grimsdell said, “including me. We all want to be doing the activities.”

Sniper Action Photo catches some action at a Lumberyard bike park. — Photo courtesy Sniper Action Photo

Grimsdell saw the need for an automated photo mechanism that would provide people with photos of themselves enjoying activities in adventure parks. He started looking for someone who could help him with the software that would be needed.

One day when Grimsdell was picking up his son from the home of a young friend, he met the friend’s dad, Ryan Johnson. He had heard that Johnson was tech-savvy, and he asked him three questions:

“Do you know about computers? Do you know about RFID (radio frequency identification)? Do you want to start a company that matches RFID and cameras together?”

Johnson, who has a master's degree in computer science and was at the time commuting to work in Edmonton, answered yes to all three questions. 

The partners started Sniper Action Photo in 2011. Their first two clients were SkyTrek Adventure Park, located about 15 minutes outside of Revelstoke, and Oyama Zipline Adventure Park, near Kelowna. In March 2013 Sniper Action was written up in an article for RFID Journal, and that story is what generated pretty much all of Sniper Action’s business.

Sniper Action Photos captures the action at the Pipe Mountain Coaster, a popular thrill ride at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. — Photo courtesy Sniper Action Photo

In addition to doing installations at adventure parks all over North America and the Caribbean, the company will soon be doing business in Taiwan and New Zealsnd. “We haven’t needed to do much reaching out at all,” Grimsdell said.

Within the adventure parks, Sniper Action’s cameras are often mounted high in the tree canopy, in positions that a photographer just can’t get to. The cameras take photos as zipline riders pass through those places wearing their RFID-enabled helmets or wristbands. 

These riders never tire of the vistas at Rainforest Adventures in St. Maarten. — Photo courtesy Sniper Action Photo

“We get mostly photos that people can’t get any other way,” said Grimsdell. “If there were an opportunity for people to easily take the same photo, then they wouldn’t need us to do it.” 

The cameras each sit inside a large security camera housing with a relay and a computer, and the images captured are sent via radio data to Sniper Action’s photo server. The photos are then processed and made available at photo kiosks on site in the park. Guests simply scan their RFID tag to view and purchase their gallery of photos.

Sniper Action Photo's cameras operate from fixed locations and are activated by RFID signals. — Photo courtesy Sniper Action Photo

“We can fully automate the whole photography process for the companies that contract us,” said Grimsdell. “They then don’t need to hire a photographer, and they always get great images that an on-the-ground photographer couldn’t get anyway. The photos make their customers very happy, and generate revenue for the company.

“There are hundreds of adventure parks around,” Grimsdell added. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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