The Ordinary Scenes of an Extraordinary Ski Season

How does a photographer who makes his living traveling the world and documenting far-flung scenes survive a pandemic that puts the kibosh on all travel? Like many of us, he picked up an old hobby again. Kari Medig, a professional photographer based in Canada, picked up his old Hasselblad film camera and got busy learning more about the art of photography. Here, Medig shares the inspiration behind his pandemic photo project.

SKI: Tell us a bit about your inspiration for this project.

Kari Medig: Leading up to the pandemic, I was busy traveling on ski-related assignments: Michigan, Afghanistan, Hungary, Spain. I was slated to head to Sweden next. But as everyone knows, in the span of a week everything shut down. I’ve been near home since, except for the occasional assignment within BC and Alberta.

Related: Otherworldly scenes from a ski area pandemic closure

At first I was at loose ends. But then I realized it was a great opportunity to take some time to get excited about photography again. I took some courses from photographers I really admired. I read a lot. And most importantly, I spent time looking at the work of some of my favorite photographers. This re-education time led me to this little project.

On the first day of 2021, I decided to get out every day to shoot at least one frame with my Hasselblad film camera. I live near a great ski hill, and spent much of my time wandering the parking lot for images. With strict rules in the lodges, it seemed like the parking lots came alive with interesting scenes: scenes that probably would only happen during these strange times.

Had you been making less time to shoot on film in recent years? Did the pandemic force you to slow down and pick that back up?

The Hasselblad has always been an important tool in my image making, regardless of the pandemic. Although I shoot digital out of necessity, especially for assignments, I’d say that around 90 percent of my site is shot with medium format film.

There’s a look to it I really love, the color and how it renders space. But mostly I like the creative process of shooting with it. Because of the expense of film and also not being able to see right away if you “have the shot,” the camera really forces me to be present and really think about what I’m after. I love the mental zone I get into while shooting it. Not to mention, since it’s not a typical looking camera, people are usually quite curious, which can help to break the ice.

Pandemic aprés at Whitewater
Greg and Cheryl enjoy aprés ski at their van in the Whitewater Ski Resort parking lot. Photo: Kari Medig

Whitewater ski hat
Greg has been skiing with the hat his mom knit him on every ski outing since he was twelve. “For the first couple of years I was so short it dragged on the ground!” 46 years later, Greg is a little taller and the hat is still going strong. Photo: Kari Medig

Whitewater janitor
Morgan on janitor duty after the lifts close at Whitewater Ski Resort. Photo: Kari Medig
Whitewater family
Abby being pulled by her dad Greg back to the car after a day skiing at Whitewater Ski Resort. Photo: Kari Medig

Whitewater family
Hockey stick tow. Photo: Kari Medig

Medig’s main ski buddy, Pete, adjusts his neckwarmer before a backcountry ski run. Photo: Kari Medig

Bow and Arrow
Aksel with his homemade bow and arrow at Whitewater Ski Resort.

Parking lot hugs
Michelle and Ceilieah get ready for a ski at Whitewater Ski Resort. Photo: Kari Medig

Solo Aprés
John enjoys solo aprés on the tailgate of his truck in the Whitewater Ski Resort parking lot. Photo: Kari Medig

Paring Lot Burgers

Tyler, on a road trip from Saskatchewan, flipping burgers with his avy shovel in the Whitewater Ski Resort parking lot Photo: Kari Medig