Garrett James Photography

Through the camera lens: Capturing the BCHL in pictures


(This article was originally published on Sep. 18, 2020.)

The perfect image of a shot beating the goaltender top shelf. Head-shots for a player profile. Feature images for a BCHLNetwork article. The dreaded year-end team picture. Everlasting memories of that championship trophy win. All of these pictures and images are made possible by the tireless efforts and often under-appreciated game day photographers.

For the past 13 seasons, the Coquitlam Express and the BCHL have been blessed to have the brother tandem of Damon and Garrett James snapping high quality, game night photographs. Regardless of the medium or media utilizing their photographs, Damon and Garrett are true assets to the BCHL and true champions in their field.

It all started in Surrey

According to the Garrett James Photography website, Damon and Garrett got their start at the Eagles’ Nest in Surrey.

“Garrett was introduced to the world of media arts when he was in Grade 6 after attending a South Surrey Eagles game vs. the Prince George Spruce Kings. His brother, Damon (who was in Grade 8 at the time) suggested that the two of them should try videoing the games and creating highlight packages.”

The talented James brothers went on to produce these packages – according to the website – “for the next four years until the 2007-08 BCHL season when they produced the BCHL All-Star game highlight package, which featured current NHL players such as Tyler Bozak, Matt Irwin, Kyle Turris, and Riley Nash.”

Garrett began snapping pictures that same year. The bio mentions he first used his family’s Canon 30D camera and an old used Canon 80-200. He started off shooting the Eagles at the South Surrey Arena and then to see Langley at the George Preston Recreation Centre, and the occasional trip to Bill Copeland Arena to see the Burnaby Express.

Then Garrett started shooting for the BCHL itself and supplying the league office with pictures. Later, he took promotional photos for the Surrey Eagles and Langley Chiefs and pictures for the Chiefs’ hockey cards.

Eventually, Garrett brought his photography prowess to the Western Lacrosse Association. He began with the Burnaby Lakers and later the Coquitlam Adanacs which ultimately landed him with the Vancouver Stealth of the National Lacrosse League when they called the Langley Events Centre home.

Shooting photos at a BCHL game

Much like the game-day DJ, announcer, or broadcaster, Damon and Garrett put in a lot of work and effort into mastering their particular craft.

Damon notes they communicate well with the team they are shooting. “Prior to any game, we ask if there is anything the team is looking for in particular and they advise us”. And if they don’t receive any guidance, James adds they just give the best images. “We sum up the story of the game.”

James says a huge number of photos can be taken for each game. “It can easily be 1,000-plus depending on the game.” He notes that despite the busy shutter button finger they are able to follow a fair amount of the game and everything happening on that front. Typically pictures are uploaded from a USB card to their trusty MacBook during intermissions.

In terms of post-game editing and the transfer of photos from camera to computer to gallery, it all depends on the arena and its lighting. James notes the best lit arenas in the BCHL and therefore requiring the least amount of editing work are the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex in Coquitlam, Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo, and the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

If you see them working at your favourite BCHL team’s game, take the time to appreciate the efforts being made by photographers like Garrett and Damon James. They are often doing under-appreciated work to contribute to the success of your team and the BCHL.