Photographer Takes Portraits of Torontonians from Every Country in the World

Roughly half the citizens of Toronto, Canada are immigrants. There’s a Little India, Little Italy, Koreatown, Greektown, Little Portugal, two Chinatowns, and huge swaths of English, Irish, and Scottish heritage. So it’s not surprising that one enterprising photographer, Colin Boyd Shafer, realized that he could photograph the entire world one Torontonian at a time. For his yearlong project, Cosmopolis Toronto, he’s shooting a portrait of a citizen from every country in the world without leaving the city limits:

Shafer shoots not only a portrait of the individual in a personally relevant space, but a close-up of an item that reminds them of their home—a doll, photograph, ring, toy, or tattoo.

“I think sometimes we maybe come to a point in our lives where we can realize that there’s value in not hiding some of those memories.” – Colin Boyd Shafer


Estonia’s flag colors on a Canadian maple leaf. (Via Cosmopolis Toronto. Click for larger image.)

Many of Shafer’s subjects have participated enthusiastically, happy to share their cultures with a community that has, for the most part, welcomed them openly.

“If you talk to any immigrant, or someone that’s migrated from another country, they will tell you that the number-one reason why families come to this country is to provide a future for their children. Because I see the opportunities. And when I see my children playing with children of different colors, different cultures, different religions, it tells me that I’m in the right place.” – Paul, from South Africa


Paul, from South Africa, moved to Toronto for his children. (Via Cosmopolis Toronto. Click for larger image.)

Shafer has found most of his subjects already, but he’s still missing citizens from roughly a dozen countries—mostly small and wealthy European nations like Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and San Marino. And if you know any Torontonians from Burundi, Kiribati, or East Timor, Shafer’s hoping you’ll send him a message before June 2014.

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