David Price is one of our two long-standing club photographers. Pricey – as he’s known to everyone here, including the players – talks about how his role has evolved since joining Arsenal in 2002 and why he needs to deliver straight away these days
I’ve been Arsenal’s club photographer since 2002 and there’s no question the club has become a big part of my life in that time.
Looking back 20 years, I think I was pretty nervous about taking on the role because I’d been at Colorsport – a sports photo agency – for seven years and got used to it. But at the same time I was excited and I knew it was an opportunity that I probably wouldn’t be offered again.
Arsenal were one of Colorsport’s biggest customers, which helped as it meant the bedding process was easier. I knew Stuart MacFarlane – our chief photographer – because he had worked there before coming here and I had also learned a lot from my colleagues, particularly Mike King who was a brilliant photographer and a real inspiration to me. Stuart and Mike have been the biggest influences on my career.
“When I started, we were still shooting on film. There were real limitations on how quickly you could deliver images.”
Driving to Highbury was great – our office was above the guests’ dressing room. Every day you walked through the marble halls and it always felt special. Even if you’ve been doing it for a few years, you’d still hear that hum if you were in the building. Working in this office was really pleasant – you could really feel the atmosphere that builds up before a game.
We could smell the fried onions from the burger van outside and hear the police horses cruising down the street. Highbury was a special place. Looking back I’m glad I joined then because experiencing Highbury gave me memories I will never forget. I’ve also made lifelong friends at Highbury, people like Andy Exley and Josh James who work in the programme’s media department.
In general, the job today is very different than it was back then. What was the biggest change? Definitely the equipment. When I started we were still shooting on film. There were real limitations on how quickly you could make images available to people. Now we deliver images instantly.
You used to go to European away games and come back with a bag full of films. When Thierry Henry scored that goal at the Bernabeu in 2006, he ran straight at me. I probably didn’t send the picture through to anyone until the next morning, which absolutely wouldn’t be the case in 2022!
Now when we’re shooting games, you’ll have your laptop next to you, connected to your camera, because a big part of the job is being able to react quickly. If we capture something good during the game, we’ll quickly edit it and send it to the club’s social team and Getty Images as soon as possible. People expect live images and you have to be able to deliver that.
In the Highbury days we’d run from the sidelines to the office and pop some rolls of film into the processor at halftime. So when you come back at the end of the game, you would already have four rolls of film waiting for you, so you can start editing and scanning. Back then, you would scan in your best dozen and send them to those who needed them.
Part of me wishes I could have shot at Highbury with the cameras we have now because they are so much better than they were then. But then again, if you look at the images filmed back then, they have a nice retro feel to them.
There is much more to do now. There has always been a lot of interest in youth teams and women’s football, but not as much as it was in 2022. Women’s football has really evolved. In the beginning I wasn’t at the training ground for shooting practice every week, but now I am. We try to come to every women’s game and when it comes to a clash we send freelancers.
But looking back, I’m very proud that we’ve always supported women’s football, which wasn’t the case for most clubs. I’ve traveled all over Europe with the women’s team – just like the men – and looking back I’m very proud to have followed the games when we won the Champions League in 2007, for example. I’ll never forget this season, just like I’ll never forget how we clinched our win against Lyon last month, which was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
We also have more commercial work to do. Club Days take place regularly, where the players have various partner and retail shoots. We will often be above them. Also, there were no pre-season tours in the same way as now. When I started Stuart went to Austria with the first team, but we’ve been touring the world for over a decade now and it’s a great part of the job.
There are a few trips that stand out – going to Sydney was brilliant because it was a place I would never normally visit. These trips offer you many unforgettable moments and help you to meet people from the club. Building relationships is truly beneficial for everyone. You can all see what each other is doing on a daily basis and that will help you to work together in the future. Tours give a good insight into other people’s working lives.
“The job can take over your life, but you love it – and that makes it special”
A big part of my role is photographing academy games and I really enjoy that. It’s always nice to see talent prevail. The obvious example was Jack Wilshere. There was a lot of talk about him at the training ground. The first time I photographed him was at a reserve game at Underhill. He was only 15 or 16 and looked tiny, but you could tell right away how good he was. He wasn’t impressed at all. Nothing would ever bother him and he quickly rose to the first team.
I remember one of Cesc Fabregas’ first games for the academy – it was against Crawley Town in the FA Youth Cup and he lobbed from a very long distance. He couldn’t have been older than 15 at the time. More recently, Eddie Nketiah has always been an absolute goalscorer. We’ve had a lot of players come through the academy and it’s always exciting to photograph those games because you could see a future star.
Conclusion: Arsenal mean everything to me. We’re at so many games over the course of the season and are lucky enough to be shooting in training too so you really feel like you’re living it. The job can take over your life, but you love it – and that’s what makes it special. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted on condition that appropriate credit is given to www.arsenal.com as the source.