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The Truth: Paul Morrison

On photography, new school, and snowmobiles.
posted: 12/28/2005
Photo by Dan Treadway

Paul Morrison, the soft-spoken shooter from Burlington, Ontario, has been an icon of North American ski photography for a quarter-century. Known by many as the King of Light, he has lived in Whistler since 1973. He has watched almost every aspect of the sport ebb, flow, and evolve.

WHEN I MOVED TO WHISTLER, it was just one huge mountain with sometimes as few as 100 skiers on the hill. There was always untracked. Now there are 25,000 people on the hill some days. Photographers have to work hard to get shots of untracked powder.

WHEN I STARTED SHOOTING, racing ruled. Photos were about showing proper technique on hardpack. There was very little air. Powder shots were all figure eights and tight turns.

I WAS ONE OF THE FIRST to shoot J.P. Auclair and Shane Szocs (New Canadian Air Force members) on Blackcomb in the mid 1990s. I knew something big was going on.

ONE THING THAT BUGS ME is shooting park rats who don't have any technical background. It's hard to sell pictures of people who can't ski properly.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IS A MIXED BLESSING: It's convenient and quick, but it's inconsistent. It can be as good as the best film, or worse than the worst film.

I UNDERSTAND WHY SKIERS USE SNOWMOBILES. It's the only economic way to get powder. But coming home from a shoot hard-of-hearing and smelling of oil isn't my idea of an enjoyable ski experience.

THERE'S MORE EXCITEMENT IN SKIING now with all the kids coming back into it. That's cool. Twin tips and fat skis have saved the industry—and photography.



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