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Toronto Instagram star will make you fall in love with the TTC

Jamaal Merrick has always been fascinated by transit. "When I was a kid I used to play with model train sets, and my mom used to take me to daycare on the TTC, so I’d always want to sit in the front and look out the window," he says.

Merrick, who does marketing in the telecommunications industry, runs the Instagram account @jamaalism. He's amassed nearly 33,000 followers by posting almost monochromatic shots of the city - the TTC's one of his primary subjects.

"My mom told me the stations were my first words, like being able to say out the subway stations and stuff like that," he jokes. "I don’t know, can’t confirm or deny that."

Along with shooting the TTC, Merrick often wanders through various parts of the city and like to go off the beaten path. One of his favourite spots is along the Don Branch, an abandoned railway track that crosses through the Don Valley. But Merrick was out exploring before he got into photography.

After a trip to Egypt a few years ago, Merrick was disappointed with the quality of the photos from his point-and-shoot camera. For his next adventure, this time to Iceland, he bought a DSLR.

In August 2014, he came across a blogTO post about popular Toronto Instagrammers. “In my mind, I was like, I didn’t know this was a thing," he says. He soon deleted all the food photos from his feed and made it public - he's been posting his photography to it ever since.

Since he never had any formal training, Merrick learns from those he shoots with, including @bora.vs.bora.

He also started another account called @ttczone to throw the spotlight on other Torontonians who photograph our transit system

Because Merrick works downtown, but lives in Thornhill, he often shoots before or after work, or while on the way to visit family in other parts of the GTA. "On my way from A to B, I’ll just take a little detour," he says. "I just try to sneak it in whenever I can.”

Although Merrick notes that his photography hasn't really changed how he interacts with the city.

“A lot of the things I shoot, I think that I’ve always enjoyed," he says. "It wasn’t photography that led me to these things, it was more photography let me capture the things that I love.”

Lead photo by

Jamaal Merrick


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