Alta States 

Celebrate what you’ve got!

By Michel Beaudry

She says she’s just a simple farm girl. Nothing special. No reason to write a story about her or anything. But as usual she’d downplaying her talents. For Bonny Makarewicz has carved out a sizeable niche for herself in the male-dominated world of photojournalism. A Whistler institution for the last 16 years — her work appears regularly in both local and Lower Mainland newspapers — Bonny is about to have a photo essay of hers featured in the travel section of the venerable New York Times. Nothing special indeed…

She likens her career to skiing. “If you want to be a better skier, you don’t hang out on the bunny hill watching bad skiers,” she says with that wonderful round-cheeked smile that so nicely underscores her Eastern European roots. “I’ve always strived to see good images in my head.”

And then she laughs. “It’s pretty straightforward as far as I see it,” she says. “Whoever thinks they’ve taken their best photo ever should quit being a photographer right now!”

I still remember my first Bonny sighting. It was during a World Cup downhill at Panorama Mountain in the early 1990s at one of the more photogenic sites on the course. As usual, there was an international scrum of old-boy photographers with massive lenses and big egos, each one jostling for the best shooting position. Off to the side a bit — totally calm and entirely composed — was a young woman snowboarder with a modest array of camera gear around her neck. And I recall thinking to myself: “What’s a boarder chick doing in this gang?”

Bonny laughs. “That was my first assignment for the Question,” she says. “I was so green and so inexperienced at that point — but I was young and keen and it really didn’t matter. Besides, even though I got my share of curious looks for being on a snowboard — I was the only rider allowed on the course — I got a lot of support from the other photographers that week.”

Although she’s shot her fair share of sporting events since that time, she definitely doesn’t consider herself just a sports photographer. “If one looked at my work I think diverse would sum it up best and that’s because of my photojournalism background. You get thrown into all sorts of different situations — from action to portraiture to being allowed one minute in a G8 heads-of-state meeting. You have to think on your feet and come home to file a good picture. You can’t say to your editor, the dog ate my homework or it was snowing too hard.”

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