This project began in 2006 when I was young photographer in Toronto looking to take on something new and exciting. Having grown up in Toronto, I was always amazed at how the city transforms every four years into a kaleidoscope of flags and colours during the World Cup. In June of 2006, I journeyed across the Greater Toronto Area in search of fans from each of the 32 nations competing in the FIFA World Cup and document them with my camera during the highs and lows of watching a live game.
Three weeks, 800 km and 3500 photos later I had found fans of all 32 countries, from a single Ivory Coast fan watching a game in his apartment to 5,000 South Korean fans crammed into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The project was featured on both CBC’s Metro Morning (Radio) and CBC’s News at 6 (TV) when it was completed in June of 2006, I think because it shows both the diversity of Toronto and the unity of sport through greatest tournament in the world.
All images were taken during a live television broadcast of a World Cup game, with the exception of one country where a re-broadcast was used. As a result, all of the the reactions and passions within the photos are live and on location, not recreated or staged after or before the event.
This project presents an alternative to typical Toronto World Cup photos; that is, fans waving flags in the street or viewers caught frozen with a flash. The images in this project use only the natural light provided so as not to interfere with those watching the games or the environment itself. As a result, many of the images are dark, due to the limited light available in darkened viewing areas. Some photos are blurry, due to the frenzy of the games most exciting moments. Joseph Michael felt this was the only way to take truly authentic pictures of viewers watching the World Cup.
In 2010, I had my first solo gallery exhibit, Waving Flags: Toronto’s World Cup Frenzy, and displayed my World Cup photos from 2006 running concurrently with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The exhibit was presented by f11 project and displayed at The Rivoli Lounge from June 6-July 11. This exhibit got some really fantastic media attention, be sure to check out the two interviews on CBC.
At the same time, for the 2010 World Cup I again went out across the GTA to find teams he had not photographed in 2006. With the exception of North Korea, I added 13 new teams to this project and improved on some teams I had not shot as well in 2006.
This year I’ll continue the search and pursue fans of the four teams he has not yet photographed Colombia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia.
If you are looking for a bar/location in the city to watch the World Cup, search for your favourite team on this site and it will show you where I’ve photographed those fans in the past. Also, be sure to check out my soon to be up-to-date map of the GTA with suggested locations for most countries.
Finally, if you have suggestions for where I should go to photograph World Cup fans in Toronto, PLEASE let me know!