As anyone who lives in Whistler can tell you, this little mountain town is about much more than swishing down pristine slopes (though that is a pretty big draw). If you’re unaware of all this region has to offer, you need only flip through the glossy pages of “Top of the Pass,” a book by local author Stephen Vogler and two local photographers, Bonny Makarewicz and Toshi Kawano, which was released last December.
Approaching the one-year anniversary launch date, the author and photographers are hosting a month-long photographic exhibit of “Top of the Pass” at MY Millennium Place.
Vogler just helped Makarewicz hang the 20 selected prints last Friday, where they will remain through November, and possibly the month of December as well.
The exhibition is also just in time for the season to start up again, a time when Vogler says there is a renewed interest in everything Whistler and Sea to Sky.
The “Top of the Pass” project started almost two years ago, but it draws on years of the contributors’ experiences in the area.
“I always sort of joked that it was 30 years of research for the writing,” Vogler said with a laugh, explaining that he’s lived in the area for that long.
When Vogler was given the go-ahead on the book, he decided to approach a handful of local photographers that he believed would be valuable to the project. Kawano and Makarewicz were within that group.
They each submitted portfolios to the publisher, who ultimately decided to use both of the photographers for their strengths and stylistic qualities.
“With Toshi’s pictures, there was a real, striking quality about them, like for example the cover shot of the book and others where they’re really dramatic and really visually eye-catching,” he explained, “And with Bonny’s, I think it was her ability to capture the life or essence of a situation. She puts the viewer into that moment in life, and I think that comes from her years of photojournalism.”
Makarewicz is a freelance photojournalist whose photos appear in a wide range of publications – The Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, and more. She’s also called Whistler home since 1990, shooting people and places within the Sea to Sky region. Over the past 18 years, she’s amassed quite a collection of visual stories from the far reaches.
“The ‘Top of the Pass’ book, it wasn’t just a pretty picture book, it was more documentary-ish,” she said, adding that she combed her archives to find images to match Vogler’s storyline.