This photographer celebrates Toronto’s diversity with beautiful portraits of mixed families
Mick M. has been an amateur photographer for more than 20 years. Growing up in the West End, he first got involved in photography working for the now-shuttered Lomography camera store on Queen West. He currently lives in the High Park area, where he coaches kids’ soccer and is actively involved in the community. After meeting families from mixed backgrounds through his neighbourhood activities, he came up with the idea for Toronto: A Family Portrait, his debut public exhibition at Contact.
Finding his subjects through word-of-mouth, Mick started photographing mixed families to showcase Toronto’s diversity. “There’s a lot of bad news in the world, so I wanted to share positive stories about families,” he says. “When you look at the subjects all together, you really get a sense they’re connected and I think that’s something Toronto does well.”
He began this project in June 2017 and has photographed more than 10 families so far. Here, Mick tells us about the process behind his portraits.
Clockwise from top left: Antony (Kenyan), Stacy (from New Brunswick), Henry and Alice
Mick didn’t ask his subjects to pose. “I didn’t necessarily want a smile and I wasn’t looking for a perfect picture,” he says. “I wanted a shared expression.”
Clockwise from top left: Ikechukwu (Nigerian), Sabrina (East Indian/East African), Ayaan Kane and Soleil Ciel
For the exhibit, Mick grouped the images by father/son and mother/daughter. He also displayed parents above their children. “I wanted parents at eye level and children below, so you’d look down at them the way you would at a child.”
From left: Zamina (Pakistani/African; her husband—not pictured—is Italian/French Canadian) and Senna
Mick photographed the families at their homes or at his own home and studio. “I didn’t want to go too much into questions about the families’ backgrounds,” he says. “I was just interested in the images.” To emphasize their faces, he used white backgrounds and asked everyone to wear white clothing.
Clockwise from top left: Jamie (British heritage), Barb (Filipino-Canadian), Anna and Victoria
“A shared expression could be a smile, a smirk or it could be just something in the eyes,” Mick says. “Once I saw the same expression from different people, the concept came to life.”
Mick M. is now interested in photographing three generations of the same family. Interested parties can reach him through his Instagram.
Toronto: A Family Portrait is on display at Pizzeria Libretto (155 University Ave.) until May 30.
The original version of this post misidentified Zamina's background and neglected to mention her husband's background. The post has been updated with the correct information.