The Mixed Race Project: Meet Margaret and Loren’s Family

March 8, 2012 |  Category:   photography

I’m excited to introduce the first family in this series that features parents who are also of mixed race. Both Margaret and Loren are half-Asian/ half Caucasian and they live in Queens, NY.


I think there is a point in any ongoing project where you start losing focus and you start having doubts. I’m not sure if I’ve reached that point quite yet, but I have been feeling it to some degree. What is this for? Who am I doing this project for? When will I know when it’s “done”?
It’s taken a lot of time and coordination to schedule and get each story done. It’s always a bit intimidating to enter into a stranger’s home and photograph them at some of their intimate family moments. I mean, it’s strange. But by the time I leave the photoshoot, I feel like I know them a little.
So I don’t know where this is going, if anywhere at all. I know I have more to learn and that is motivation in itself. I guess I’ll keep on going…

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  • Jacqueline March 9, 2012 at 12:07 am

    This post particularly resonates with me because I also have (had?) a photography side project that I was super focused on and excited about… and then suddenly after about 6 months, I lost the excitement and it dwindled. It’s so much prep time to research and schedule (I was photographing local creators) that I think it became kind of daunting.

    I will say that it’s made me a better photographer, though.

    And also, I’m hapa, so I particularly love your Mixed Race Project. Just saying. 🙂

  • Maria March 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I find this project so fascinating! My fiance is half-German, half-Japanese, but born here in Australia. I am Finnish, with a touch of Swedish in me and we are planning to start a family here in Sydney. Please keep going Jeanne! I’m sure I’m not the only one who is fascinated by these stories. xx

  • sreebindu March 9, 2012 at 1:10 am

    keep going 🙂 the pic is adorable =)

  • Eva-Lotta March 9, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Hope you do keep on going, I love this project.
    My kids are 1/4 Russian, 1/4 Korean, 1/4 Dutch, 1/4 German, I would love to be in your photos if we lived in NY.

  • Liz March 9, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I think it is a very valuable project, and I hope you will continue it. Maybe take a round number (I guess you’re quite close to 10 right?), go till there, stop and see how you feel? Maybe a round number of stories makes you feel more accomplished.

  • Karen March 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I hope that you do continue this project. I love seeing how the mundane is played out without focusing so much on the race of these families. I am Puerto Rican, with a white/indian puerto rican mom and a black puerto rican dad. And my boyfriend is a red-headed caucasion. It’s the best getting past the cover of the book to see what is written inside. 🙂 Sorry, for my poor attempt at an analogy…

  • Ines Anchondo March 9, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I know what you mean (I think). Others have expressed it already. I like that you ended with it will continue if it continues, well, sort of. I love this project. My children are mixed half Mexican, half Caucasian (although my husband is part African American, but he didn’t know this part growing up, interesting, right?). I will also love to be part of it, of course. This project is all about the stories and your pictures are fascinating, utterly fascinating. I find your blog so attractive because of the pictures so, I confess many times I don’t read the words I just look at the pictures and imagine the words.

  • Sharon @ Currently Coveting March 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I’m really glad to know that you will be continuing on with the project. I think it’s a current and important subject to explore. I’ve passed the site’s link on to some of my friends who are of mixed race and also to my fiance. Our future children will be mixed and we’ve often talked about how we want to make sure they have a full understanding and love for their ehtnicities. It’s interesting and informative for me to see how other mixed race families work. Thank you for creating this project and thank you for continuing on with it.

  • Elisabeth March 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I think this is a really important project, and I can accept and appreciate the fact that it is a photography project. However, there may be more to explore in terms of the challenges that families face. Can you interview them? Get them to open up about their experiences?

    I shared this months ago on Facebook but it fell on deaf ears. I had thought many of my friends, who are almost all married to a person of another race/background and have mixed race children, would be all over it. But perhaps something about the title is off-putting? Perhaps those same friends envision themselves in a kind of “Post Race” society, one which is blind to color?

    It seems a particularly poignant project at this time in American history. I do hope you continue. But as a Caucasian with Caucasian children, I struggle to know how to share it, how to help others approach it.

    The most interesting part for me is the cultural exchange and challenges that arise. It would be wonderful to see that more explored, as you have so beautifully shared of your own family on the blog.

    Wishing you all the best. I think you’re brilliant.

  • Atsuko March 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I truly enjoy this project. It shows me sense of cultural movement and modern family. My fiance is from a very homogeneous town in US. When I visited there for the first time, I felt very outstanding – only Asian! People there identified themselves as Italian, Polish, or Russian even though none of them speak those language. They did not say themselves as American either. When we dined in at a local restaurant, people looked at us such cold eyes. I literally felt sorry for my fiance. I wish those were more open minded. In the end, visiting his hometown was quite interesting culture shock to me. Of all, reading the Mixed Race Project gives me comfort, assurance, and guidance. The photos you took are very real. The families openly showed their daily lives. I hope you will continue on this wonderful project.

  • Cecilia Madden March 9, 2012 at 11:42 am

    In a world of perfectly staged house tours, i think your project is such a breath of fresh air. It’s so thoughtfully done: thought-provoking without being preachy or pompous. I’m Mexican and my husband is Irish so reading these stories makes me thoughtful about our own priorities, and about how we will pass on our cultures to our daughter.

    Also, my daughter had that same pair of red and white overalls as the little girl in this family! ha! She only wore them once. I thought they were a little too “country.” (They were a gift from a true Texan hillbilly). Somehow, they don’t look “country” at all in these photos 🙂

  • Delia R March 9, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I hope you do continue this project. I have no relation(my husband and I are both Hispanic) …even though sometimes different countries can almost feel like different races!lol I have always loved and been fascinated by families of mixed races. I admire, from afar,(is that weird?) their uniqueness and beauty. I always wonder how they became a family and if it was easy or hard for the couples’ family to embrace them.

  • Tamara March 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I love this project so much and hope you keep going!

  • Grace March 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I just want to throw in my two cents as well and encourage you to continue with this project. Its such a beautiful representation of these families and highlights their uniqueness. As a Taiwanese-Chinese-American woman, whose fiance is Guatemalan-American, I’m sure our future children will love to grow up seeing faces of people who are similar to them, and know that they can embrace multiple cultures and backgrounds. Thank you for your hard work celebrating these families and keep it up!

  • Tara March 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I love this project! My husband is from Mexico and I am a US-mutt, so I can identify a bit – probably more so when we have children (in the future) and really enjoy seeing the photos and reading the captions. 🙂

  • Stephanie March 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I find your Mixed Race Project fascinating as well. I am 1/2 Korean, 1/2 Caucasian. My husband is Korean American and so our baby is 3/4 Korean. Navigating these strange cultural waters can be difficult and onerous, but rich and wonderful at the same time. The more we think about and investigate what it means to be of mixed race in America, the better we begin to understand our parents and our children. Please keep up the hard work! It’s very VERY much appreciated!!

  • Sora March 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Keep going, Jenna! I like sharing your site with my girls who are half Korean and half Caucasian. It’s great for me to be able to relate to other multi-racial families as well. Your work is always honest and I love being able to take a peek into their lives via your lens.

  • Judith March 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I love your Mixed Race Project too, Jenna. I usually lurk on your blog but came out just to say that I hope you will continue. Many thanks from the Netherlands.

  • nan March 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Please keep going. You never know where it may lead. Maybe a museum exhibition of your project? Maybe a book? Both? You’re giving people a beautiful platform to share their love of their families and cultures. We can all relate to that and I think the majority of U.S. families are at least of mixed ethnicity though mixed-race families are not yet typical (but they will be! :-).

  • redfrizzz March 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I love this project, and that you have taken it on without clear intent or guide. The best art comes from instinct. I hope to someday be part of your project, and I can’t wait to see where this goes- no matter where. 🙂

  • Selkie March 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Keep on. As the parent of kids who are a welsh, african-american, cherokee mix, I think a project like yours is wonderful in all kinds of ways, to see and hear and feel and share. Wonderful in all the years ahead for your kids to see a part of you intimately. Wonderful for us parents of mixed race kids to hear and read of others; even the comments feel like a community somehow, through you. Wonderful to share with our kids, as another element of our
    wonderful full world. Keep on. You don’t have to know where you are going with it, yet, and you will know for certain when it is ‘done’, I expect.

  • pemora March 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    i totally get what you are saying. but this mission is so important, so current, so necessary…please continue it. it is important to so many.


  • gizella March 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I’m surprised people still say Caucasian.

  • Sophia March 10, 2012 at 3:05 am

    I may have no relation to this project in terms of race (in Greece still most of the families are pretty homogenous) but as a photographer I enjoy tremendously your documentary ability combined with a very pragmatic point of view. Afterall, it’s liberating to see this medium of communication returning to its archetypal reason of existence, to record the realities of this world.

  • Sally B March 10, 2012 at 11:03 am

    If you decide to keep going great – I, for one gain a lot from it. But if you decide to conclude the project that is ok too. I don’t think the length of the project measures it’s success. The content you have already produced is wonderful – so much insight.
    Thank you.

  • Kate Koeppel March 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    My partner and I do not have children yet, but looking at these photos of families together have inspired many conversations about what we hope for, and want to share with our future children. Sharing this project with my family has also been a wonderful way to help talk about some of our worries, our hopes and our excitement for starting a new family together with new traditions.

    My partner is Indian and Iranian, I am Irish and German. The cultures we grew up in are very different, and we want to share traditions from both of our families. We don’t know any families who share our particular mix of cultures, though we know other mixed race families in Seattle, where we are both from. This project, regardless of how it grows or develops has been very inspiring, and thought provoking. Most of all, it has started conversations that have been so good for all of us. Thank you!

  • Jenna March 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    @Elisabeth I understand your desire to want to read more about the challenges, however, I am putting up what these families are willing to share. It’s a touchy subject for sure because their families might be looking at this as well and people might not want to reveal or share something that might be new information to their family members (as is the case for 2 families here). I’m grateful that these families have volunteered to share their “day in the life” with me through the images, but understand that they will only share what they feel comfortable doing so in such a public way as this.

  • Beth Maloney March 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Please share.

  • elaine March 11, 2012 at 3:26 am

    love your mixed race projects, as a mixed race family of my own, I’m always curious about their lives too! 🙂

  • Zhuk77 March 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    It’s a very interesting conversation, Jenna. I think we are so stretched between work, motherhood, people in our lives, general staying afloat, that we tend to bypass projects that don’t have a solid purpose, or a clear goal. It’s like we need to be assured that the rewards, be they financial, personal or social are guaranteed, and the idea of dead-ending after making an investment of time and effort is something we often feel like we can’t afford. I see it often with fine artists who have stopped making art after some time: it has become too ephemeral, too uncertain in the line of very real commitments and tasks. And while I personally understand the doubts you have expressed about The Mixed Race Project oh so very well, I also would love to say that the initial urge to do or make something, however self-referencial or seemingly void of “deeper meaning,” something you can perhaps “destroy” in seconds with some light critical evaluation; that urge that you had initially, that spark that got you to start it in the first place is of undeniable merit. I think sometimes it’s really worthwhile to let the project tell you what it is, instead of telling it what it should be.

    But then again, as you go along prioritizing projects, it’s inevitable that by saying “yes” to something you will have to say “no” to something else. I am just being selfish here, I guess, because I personally would love to see the evolution of this one.

  • Anna Kitchens-Culp March 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Sometimes, I feel resistant to this or similar projects, because culture is far more relevant/interesting than race to me. I related to this family passing on culture through food and stories and family ties. I think my own multicultural (Finnish-American, Polish/English-descent Amercian) has a story to tell, but since we’re all “white”, we’re not “diverse”, as if white is the blank canvas for “other”. But when I flip through magazines, television, or even my church’s materials, I see a trend that seems to say that families should look like they “belong” together by race. And then I am glad for projects like this that hilight, normalize, and celebrate families with racial diversity, so that it alleviates the mysterious, unfounded, (even if subtle) socio-media pressure to stick with your “own” race. So, I hope it grows and that if provokes more discussion.

  • fiona March 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

    My husband, myself and our three girls are 100% Australian but there are many different bloods in our veins! My husband’s dad is Australian born Chinese whose family has been in Aus for 140 years. My husbands mum was a blonde haired, blue Swedish woman. He speaks no Catonese but fluent Swedish. MY family has been here for 200 years and is all English, Irish and Scottish. I think our family reflects modern Australia and I am very proud of that. I love that my girls have swum in Swedish lakes over Midsommar and have Yum Cha with their grandpa every few weeks and have Chinese middle names.
    Having a mixed background is a great blessing and I am so glad that you are celebrating it. Keep it going!!

  • Pumpkin9 March 14, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Please keep it up!! I enjoy the pictures, captions.

    Have you seen this project?

    As a mixed race couple, with a half-Chinese, half-German baby due in 4 months, I encourage you to keep your project going.

    Perhaps it would be interesting to follow-up with these families in 5-10 years time? See how the children grow and develop into themselves.

    btw, if your family ever travels to Europe, get in touch… I’m currently living in Germany (I’m American, husband German).


  • Kimi March 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Hapaaaaaa! I agree with people, I love the project. I’ll add a note that I find that identity for kids very often depends on how they come out lookin’—my brother and I are 1/2 japanese (via Hawaii so much love for the word hapa), 1/4 euro-mix, 1/4 jewish, and while I look totally polynesian my brother looks totally hispanic-something-or-other. Growing up I’m the only one who got a lot of flak from all the veterans of the various asian wars, while he didn’t. “Why don’t you let us wear shoes in the house in your country??” from an old WWII vet shaking his first at me. Awesome.

  • annie March 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

    This is fascinating. I’m English and people sometimes need reminding that in this country, everybody is a mix up. It’s what makes us great! I am actually hoping that I have mixed race grandchildren (though not quite yet…) and my son’s girlfriends (Korean and Chinese so far) have been lovely so fingers crossed.
    You’d think by now that we’d be used to the idea of mixed race families. It’s been a million years and counting…
    Keep going with this. It is a wonderful read on a drizzly English Saturday.

  • Sue March 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I love, love, love your mixed race project. It’s beautiful.

  • TaNeesha Johnson March 20, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Jenna- You are doing a great job at bringing the stories of mixed-raced families in America to light. Identity is a internal and external topic that we all need to consider. It can be very hard for a lot of people but you are bringing to light the beauty of these diverse families and serve as an encouragement to other families who are mixed-raced or multi-ethnic. I look forward to hearing more stories.

  • Cassie March 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Being a Caucasian mother of a young multi-racial child (Korean/Hispanic/Caucasian), your project gives me a valuable glimpse into other families like ours that I rarely see in our area of the country. Thank you.