If you’ve ever spotted a person taking pictures while perched up on the side of the cliff along the Colorado River, you’ve most likely spotted either Dave Eggeling or Mike Jensen taking photos for their company, Moab Action Shots.
The two are dedicated to their jobs. In order to get the best whitewater action shots, the duo paddles their inflatable kayak full of camera equipment down the river every day and they hike up to the best vantage spots. “We made our task more fun by changing some of the shooting locations,” explained Eggeling. “This way we could float down the river as part of the work routine.” Taking pictures of rafts going down the Colorado River is one of the many tasks Moab Action Shots does, but it’s proven to be the most lucrative for the business. The company also photographs bikers, jeeps, local events and races.
The origin of Moab Action Shots dates back to 1993, after a couple named Tom and Laurie O’Keefe purchased a small photography business called Slick Pics from Jennifer Johnston. After the purchase, the company shifted their focus from bikers to boaters on the Daily section of the Colorado River.
In 1996 the O’Keefes expanded the business and purchased property right off Highway 191, previously operated as the Westerner Grill. The building was transformed into a full-service photo lab and retail space for film and camera accessories. At the time, the photographers rushed film negatives back to the shop to process and print onto contact sheets. Customers then viewed the printed images with a magnifying loupe and chose the photos they wished to purchase in print.
The business went through several operational transitions over the years in response to changes in tourism, technology and customer demand. As digital photography improved and became accessible to the masses, Moab no longer needed a traditional film lab. In 2005 the company officially transitioned from film to digital cameras.
In 2012, after 18 years of running the business, Tom left Action Shots in the hands of Eggeling and Jensen. In 2013 the duo officially took over the business. “We didn’t have much working capital to start, so we streamlined the business to cut out as much as possible in overhead costs to restructure the business,” Eggeling explained. “We then put the profits back into the company to invest in newer camera equipment and promotion.”
That same year Tom put the Moab Action Shots building up for sale but allowed Eggeling and Jensen to operate Moab Action Shots in the building until a sale would close on the property. In the fall of 2013 a potential buyer expressed interest in remodeling the building to operate as a frozen yogurt shop. The buyer believed that a photography business and frozen yogurt business could work together in a symbiotic relationship. “The purchase was the beginning of a great working relationship and it was a relief that we didn’t have to find a new location,” said Eggeling.
Since the duo took over Moab Action Shots, they have cultivated positive relationships with local raft guides and outfitters. Every year the company hosts an Annual Guide Appreciation Party for the entire Moab river guide community. “Along with food, drinks and a fun video showcasing the season’s highlights, we add an awards segment attempting to give recognition to all local rafting companies,” said Eggeling. “We congratulate some of the guides up on stage to receive a trophy or award for random achievements.”
The event also featured a free raffle drawing for guides to win prizes donated by local businesses and restaurants. “We really hope it gives the guides a chance to make new friends in their industry,” Eggeling said.
“We really do enjoy our job, spending time on the river and continuing to build on our small business in Moab,” Jensen continued. “We both are grateful to Tom, who sadly passed away earlier this year, for the opportunity to continue running the business,” he expressed. “Tom was a fun boss to work for, and a great friend with a heart of gold. We are happy to continue the story of Action Shots for him.”
ByBy Emma Renly