270 Carlaw Avenue, 647-342-6337.
Stiff poses, strained smiles, sulky shrugs—awkward family photos are an unavoidable sight on living-room walls and bedside tables across the city. But Margaret Mulligan thinks she’s found the solution.
A commercial photographer since 2001, Mulligan has long capped off her photo shoots by having her subjects jump in the air for a final snap—a wink to her idol, fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who loved capturing subjects in motion.
But it wasn’t until last February, when a jumpshot of a pair of siblings left their mother in tears and their father speechless, that she thought there might be more to it than a fun finale.
“It’s not very often in commercial photography that you get that kind of emotional reaction. It made me feel really good, and it made other people feel really good,” Mulligan says. She soon started researching what would eventually turn into her current side business, Jumpshots, an 800-square-foot Leslieville photo studio that opened last October, and which specializes almost exclusively in mid-air portraits.
“In my experience as a youth, [getting photos taken] was usually a painful experience,” she says. “By letting the kids jump and have fun, I get natural smiles. I have them on my side.”
Her clientele is pretty kid-centric, but couples, parents with grown children, and even a family dog have all tried out Mulligan’s signature moves like “The Charlie Chaplin,” “The Fish,” “GQ,” and “The Disco Ball.”
And though she says even the most uncoordinated can take a good jumpshot, she has a few tips to help apprehensive subjects take a leap: “Keep your arms down, your feet towards your butt, and turn a little bit sideways to the camera. That’s a pretty good start.”