Toky Photography

Happy Winter…

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Behind the scenes, Fashion, New Work, Outtakes, Peeps by tokyphotography on December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays to all. Below check out my new ad for Mon Atelier. It’s in the current (Winter, 2011) issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2011.


Photo: Toky Photography

Makeup: Sundeep Morrison

Hair: Joseph Orozco

Model: Sarah Bradford

*A special thanks to Ali Rahimi for picking this shot to run as his 2011 ad. Sometimes you shoot stuff for magazines or clients that is just a ‘job’ or you don’t particularly love the shot they selected, but in this case non of those things apply as I -LOVE- this shot, so I couldn’t be happier that a bunch of people get to see an ad with a photo I took, that I happen to be really proud of. The shot is part of the series En Noir et Blanc. (check it out in full at

Below a Behind-the-scenes shot from that shoot.

Behind the Scenes, Mon Atelier shoot



Remember “Fashion Photography”?

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Fashion, New Work, Peeps, Photo Essay, Still-life, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on July 10, 2010

Dress: Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier

Dress: Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier

Dress: Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier

Dress: Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier

Some new shots I just did for Mon Atelier. What ever happened to this style of Fashion Photography?!

I’m bringing it back!

More New Work

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Fashion, models, New Work, Peeps, Toky Photography, Wonderful Machine by tokyphotography on May 24, 2010

This is one of my favorites from all my recent new work:

New Work

Photo: Toky Photography

Model: Samantha Colburn

Hair: Joseph Orozco

Makeup: Paige Quintanilla

Dress: Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier

More photos from the Boulevard3 exhibit

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Boulevard 3, Exhibit, Fashion Show, If life gives you lemons, models, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on October 27, 2009

View as you came in to the Gallery Space


Left wall


Right wall


I love this photo of me and Brandon except for the fact that I look like I'm 2 feet tall. (it's the angle!!!) Photo by: David Ariaza


You can barely see it, but the flat screens around the venue were playing a slideshow of my work as well.


Rehearsals are great. All the fun and zero pressure!


Now on to the actual show!


Anne... oh Anne... to be that tall! Love her.


Ali with the girls

Though strict policy here at the Toky Photography blog to only feature work by yours truly, some of these images are from fellow photographers David Ariaza (who I hadn’t seen in ages) and Cori Alegria (who I’m glad got to hold a camera again).

One more post from the show coming soon.

* A shout-out to Carrie from Boulevard 3 for supporting the local emerging artists and all the crew at Blvd 3 for being such gracious hosts. Also Kyle for doing such a great job hanging my work.

What a great show!

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Boulevard 3, Fashion Show, models, Peeps, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on October 24, 2009

A full post to follow, but for now… Thankyou to everyone who lent of their talent, time and enthusiasm for our photo exhibit/fashion show.

Entrance and projected digital work

Entrance and projected digital work

Photo exhibit

Photo exhibit

A shout out to the amazing models who I heart forever: Madeleine Hammer, Jessica Blackwell, Ann Henson, Kacey Nicole, Kasey Hartsock, Tricia jo Hoffman, Amy Harber, Jenny Ladner, Anne Fluerange, Emma Zerner, Mona Deldar and Zhazira Nurkhodjaeva.

As well as glam squad extraordinaire: Maria Rivera, Jez Harris, Nico Colon (HairbyNico) and Heith Chanel.

And all my friends and friends of friends for coming to support me, Ali & Brandon.

Tricia (Photo by Cori Alegria)

Tricia (Photo by Cori Alegria)

Zhazira (photo by Cori Alegria)

Zhazira (photo by Cori Alegria)

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The Furniture Maker

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Exhibit, If life gives you lemons, models, New Work, Peeps, Still-life, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on October 20, 2009

This is the culmination of my Furniture Maker project that I’ve been working on for on and off since 2006. A recently added series of still life images complete the series as “Part 1” and the orginal fashion story becomes “Part 2”.

In two previous posts I talked about the behind the scenes and the logistics. This is the final product. My vision, presented to you.

On Vimeo:

Or on YouTube:

The Furniture Maker project is about the narrative experience, which blends reality and fantasy, 2d and 3d imagery, and fine art with high fashion. It harkens back to those who have been criticized in their attempt to make their stamp in the art world. Such as those who are considered commercial photographers or fashion photographers, like Richard Avedon. It’s a piece that stakes its claim on a personal vision that isn’t about one thing, beauty or couture designs. It is about blurring all of the lines between those who are considered artists and those who are merely commercial photographers. It is about the imagination and query into the darker aspects of fairy tales. It is about blurring the lines of fashion and story telling, creation and destruction, and the attempt to rise to the occasion of our personal journeys.

The video was originally made to be played this Friday at the Furniture Maker Exhibit… but… some logistics, venue issues, etc… made me change my mind about how I wanted this video to be seen. Today life gave me lemons so I made lemon meringue pie and I saved the rest to make some lemon scented potpourri!

So sit back and enjoy some pie!

And a heartfelt and never-ending thank you to EVERYONE who lent me their talent, ideas, enthusiasm, and time for this project. They are all mentioned in the credits. I heart you all.

Friendly Reminder

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Boulevard 3, Exhibit, Fashion Show, models, New Work, Peeps, Still-life, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on October 19, 2009

Friday. My first show. Ever. Yay!!!

The Furniture Maker (still lifes)

The Furniture Maker (still lifes)

My Furniture Maker series will be on display as well as the new “The Furniture Maker (still lifes)”, which will be shown digitally.


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Why is this shot not in my book? No. 1

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Beauty, models, Outtakes, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on October 7, 2009

Why is this shot not in my book?

Why is this shot not in my book? No.1

Why is this shot not in my book? No.1

Answer: I don’t know!

Hair: Goldie

Model: Christine

Dress: Mon Atelier

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The Furniture Maker (Behind the Scenes) Part 2 (of 3)

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Boulevard 3, Exhibit, Outtakes, Peeps, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on October 7, 2009
That's Scott

That's Scott

Continued from Part 1….

Next up was our ‘welding’ shot. This was a shot that we knew what we wanted but lots of things had to be changed last minute to get it as we envisioned. The original shoes were not high enough, thank God Amy had brought a pair of her own. The original necklace was too thin, you could barely see it in the photo. So we didn’t use the one we had borrowed from Erica Courtney, instead we did a Target run and got that one for $10 bucks (and returned it later). So because of that this is the only shot that has an outside piece of jewelry that is not from the Erica’s line who was gracious enough to lends us more than a million bucks worth of jewelry for all the different setups. Also you cannot see it in the shot as it was taken out but to get Amy’s dress to look like that we used an industrial fan, a house fan and a leaf blower. (Ali: that was Scott’s idea, not mine!). Also for that shot Brandon insisted that we use the real flame on the shot…. but of course… I was not willing to get a flame close to a 5,000 dlls dress, so the flame was dropped in photoshop later. Besides, we needed a much bigger flame effect than the one that torch puts out.

Why is my dress not flowing in the air?

Why is my dress not flowing in the air?

Also, interesting tidbit from that shoot. Our awesome model Amy Correa Bell (who is also an amazing singer-actress) can nap, sitting down, without moving at all as to not ruin her hair and makeup. She doesn’t move an inch and she’s completely asleep!

The shoots had been happening every weekend until now and at this point the crew started getting restless. I had stolen all their Sundays and I got the first “when do you think we will be done?” comments? I felt bad and disappointed but I had a vision and needed to complete it. So I let a month go by before shooting again and made sure the remaining shots were all spaced out over the next couple of months.

Cynthia, who started it all was back for her actual series shot. That shoot was a breeze. Aside from a little hair issue… (black hair is not white hair people!!! learn this lesson early on and all your models will always love you). Brandon was not supposed to be in this shot and I didn’t want to steal any more of his time, but at the last minute after having the shot all setup, Cynthia ready and being shot already I asked him to “step in” for a couple of shots. He did and that was it. The shot was completed. Phew!!!

"Shaving of the wood"

"Shaving of the wood"

After that shot because of scheduling issues the shoots kept being pushed back. But Ali called me one day and he said that the dress we wanted Della to wear, was going to be auctioned next week, so if we wanted to use that one, it had to be “now or never”.

Now then.

That was also the first shoot that Scott, our art director and set dresser extraordinaire wasn’t a part of. I know that if he had been there, he would have made that set completely different that day, but looking back, the simplicity of the shot, the empty “doll house” look is exactly what I wanted for “the final piece” of The Furniture Maker creations. Also, this is the only shot that Brandon is not in. Completely on purpose and necessary for one of the girls to make that direct contact with the viewer of the series and not “be caught”. Probably my favorite thing about that shot is that she is barefoot. Courtesy of the genius that is my friend, fellow photographer and sometimes assistant extraordinaire Amber Gress.

At Runyon

At Runyon

Now for the last shot (schedule wise) of the series, but first in sequence for the viewer, we needed a redhead. And after several failed attempts, I ended up going with a blonde and added red highlights in photoshop. You have no idea how hard it is to find tall redheads in Los Angeles!!!

That shot was our only location shot so not only do I needed to find a model, I needed the perfect location. If it had been up to me I would have shot in the woods outside L.A. but with a crew full of friends who I had already had asked too much of, I knew I could only make them go a few blocks away. So that mystery, enchanted Forrest where The Furniture Maker envisions his first creation is actually Runyon Canyon. At noon. On a really, really hot day where hikers where being airlifted because they were falling down dehydrated and where other 3 helicopters were circling around because of the Paris Hilton jail thing. The cops came and asked me for my permit. Luckily.. I had one… haha, suckas! I had a generator to power the fan, battery powered strobes, hair, makeup, models, and 2 assistants (thanks Cori!). I really love how that shot turned out. Our model Laura is so incredibly pretty and her skin is like the most delicate porcelain. She was the perfect girl to represent “the dream”.

"Are we done yet?"

"Are we done yet?"

So originally after this shot I had always scheduled a group shot. The final shot was always meant to be all the girls stored in a warehouse after the “furniture maker” was “done” with them….

End of Part 2. Part 3 coming soon.

The Furniture Maker (Behind the Scenes) Part 1 (of 3)

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Exhibit, Fashion Show, models, Outtakes, Peeps, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on October 2, 2009

So much talk and planning for my “The Furniture Maker” show got me thinking about how that whole project came about. Here is a condensed of the logistics story of it (more on the artistic meaning of it on part 3).


"Dry Run"

Back in August of 2006 I was in “need” of more girls for my portfolio. My friend Scott suggested I photograph his friend Cynthia. Immediately after seeing a photo of her I thought she was perfect to be an addition to my portfolio. We set it up and she came to my friends Brandon and Sundeep’s house. Brandon is in fact a real life “Furniture Maker” and Sundeep is an incredibly talented makeup artist. Cynthia brought a bunch of her clothes. Sundeep did Cynthia’s hair and makeup and I took a bunch of great shots of her. Some beauty and some headshot style. Before we were done I asked Cynthia about going downstairs to Brandon’s furniture making shop to shoot something a bit more interesting. I had dreamed about this idea about a guy making pieces of art that looked like humans. I really didn’t know where to go with it, but this was a great way to experiment with it.

These shots are the result of that shoot.

Once I saw the results my original vision took more shape. I knew I was going in the right direction but I wasn’t quite there yet.

The shot that started it all

The shot that started it all

Coincidentally and totally randomly I had met the most awesome fashion designer a few weeks before. Ali Rahimi. Walking on the street one day, the display at his store stopped me on my tracks and I had to write down his name and Google him later. I emailed him and never expected a response but I got a note back from him letting me know I could stop by and meet him anytime. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I don’t just go ahead meeting people but I “knew” I had to meet him so I took him up on the offer and went to see him. I fell in love with him, his partner John and every single one of his dresses. The documentary about Valentino says at one point that he (Valentino) is the last true couturier… ummm, I think that would be Ali. His stuff is up there with the top of the tops. Every single one of his dresses is a carefully, beautiful crafted piece of art.

Set for the cut "Wedding" shot

Set for the cut "Wedding" shot

One of the things that I noticed about Ali’s designs was the textures, the “elements” that are a part of them. The dress that looked like metal, the dress that looked like wood, the dressed that looked like a leaf… and so on.

After that shoot with Cynthia it hit me that we are all inspired by all the things around us. We live in the same point of time and space that this reality presents us so we might be inspired by the same elements or events and transmute it on our mediums of expression. That’s when I saw the similarities in Brandon’s Furniture and Ali’s dresses. I knew that I had to make a story about this.

Amber standing in...

Amber standing in...

Cynthia became our friend right away so a few days later we gathered for dinner and Scott came too. That’s when I told him my idea and in true Scott Butler fashion he took it to the next level immediately. A notebook came out, pencil, sketches, story line, setups, etc… I like to do things fast and trust they will come along. And they do! But Scott likes to sketch, research for accuracy, cast the right people, etc… so together we came up with having the story of the making of the humans follow the process that Brandon does to build an actual piece of furniture. The inspiration, the wood shaving, the carving, welding, polishing and whatever other steps are necessary according to the piece.

Scott created a book with all the textures, the models we cast, the setups, locations, etc… we presented to Ali and he was immediately on board. (How can he resists us?)

So our first official shoot… was a mistake. It didn’t work. For some reason, mainly because availability I decided to shoot the last shot of the series first. So the last ‘human’ was wearing a wedding dress. It’s really not that I thought that he would marry one of his creations but I thought it would be a subtle way of letting the viewer know how close he felt to them after they were completed. The problem was, that there was nothing subtle about it. It was just too much and it made the story creepy. And as interesting as it might have been for some, I did not want the story to be creepy. I wanted it to walk the fine line between interesting and (a bit) disturbing… but not plain creepy.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Seeing those shots solidified the direction I wanted to take and it was smooth sailing after that.

We photographed the polishing shot next. That one my favorite shots of the whole series. For those of you who don’t know the model in that shot is Sundeep, our makeup artist who did the makeup and also the real life wife of the Furniture Maker, so that shot had all the chemistry needed. I mean, as much as you would need for an almost finished piece and the artist that created it. On that shoot we did a second setup with different hair and different makeup. But we quickly realized that this was not the kind of project that we needed to have options to choose from later. We just needed to build the shot, add and remove elements until the perfect shot would pop on the computer screen and then just go “okay then, that’s the shot, it’s wrap”.

Testing the hand position

Testing the hand position

Our next shot was our carving shot. I love love love the hair style done by the amazing Nico (he designed the hair for the whole series, and is the most enthusiastic hairstylist I know). The eyelashes that Sundeep put on Jen were handmade by Sundeep out of cardboard! AMAZING what passionate folks do when you let them be creative. Also an interesting fact about that shot is that the original dress didn’t have the tulle part at the bottom. Ali added that specially for us, by Scott’s request because he felt that the dress needed to take more space. Also, another tidbit is that Scott is never satisfied, so half of the train of the dress that you see on the shot was digitally added later to make it even bigger. And one last tidbit from that shot is that the shot you are looking in the final series is a composite of 7 different images! and 7 hours of retouching at a booth at Denny’s with Scott over my shoulder telling me ‘move this to the right, too much, go left, more, there, perfect!’ (so much for the perfect shot at the end of the actual shoot!) hahaha.

(end or part 1… part 2 coming tomorrow)

(ps… I’m Mexican so my grammar is not the best, BUT I TRY!)