Toky Photography

Catching up…

I realize my blogging has not been as active as earlier…. I am kindarealbusy preparing a new venture that I will be able to share really soon… but in the meantime, here are some updates!

-After the “Spirit of the Long Beach Marathon” Photo Essay, the New York Daily news featured a little piece on their Running Dialogue section about my project! (read full piece)

-The latest “New Clothing Wear in Collaboration with Toky Photography” t-shirt is available now at Local Collection at the Glendale Gallery and online soon. Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos of the making of:

Making shirts at Grow Your Own Media Labs...

California Home + Design Magazine

-Also…on Newsstands now the Nov/Dec issue of California Home + Design with a cover photo by yours truly + whyrhymer.

Also inside the Magazine:

-2010 Hit List: Glass Series No. 4 Lamp by Brandon Morrison

-2010 Hit List: Kalifornia Rocker by Brandon Morrison


California Homes Magazine

Posted in Collaboration, New Work, Published, The Furniture Maker, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on October 3, 2010


Sept 2010 Issue


Check out the Sept 2010 Issue of California Homes Magazine for a new Toky Photography tearsheet. Featuring the awesome work of Brandon Morrison of whyrHymer. I’ve know Brandon for many years and have photographed his Furniture & Lamps for a long time. His eye for detail in his furniture photos has influenced my still life and product photography and has helped me work with other designers (in different disciplines) with a better understanding of what they (designers) are after when their 3D creations/pieces need to become 2D digital images for promotions, websites, line-sheets, etc…

Aside from that, I’ve collaborated with Brandon extensively in other projects, such as the Music Videos we’ve been directing recently. Also, you might recognize him as “The Furniture Maker” from my photo series of that name. Make sure you pick up a copy of the magazine and read the article.

In the meantime you can visit his website: (make sure to check out the video section for some cool videos Brandon has made)

and you can follow him on Twitter @whyrhymer


California Homes Magazine September 2010 issue. Photo by: Toky Photography.... (Look B!, you finally made it to the "September issue"... okay... "a September issue ;-)"


Handmade in L.A/Art Streiber.

Posted in Art Streiber, Peeps, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on November 21, 2009

My bff, Brandon, aka know as “The Furniture Maker” for people who follow this blog… is featured in the December issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

Brandon invited me to tag along to his photoshoot with Art Streiber. I met Art 4 years ago when I interviewed to be his assistant (and wasn’t hired btw… thanks Art!) but I ended up assisiting him inderectly  when I worked as an intern at his agency (Montage) for a little less than a year. I remember one time one of the agents saw my book and she told me that she could tell that seeing Art’s work on a constant basis was influencing my work a little bit.

Art is one of the greats and someone who I know is very inspiring to a lot of emerging photographers. Being at his shoot where he was photographing my friend was a treat and a little bit of a “full circle” moment. The end result is this:

Los Angeles Magazine. December 2009.

A shout-out and thanks to Mr. Streiber!

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.

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!)

The Furniture Maker exhibit

Posted in Ali Rahimi, Boulevard 3, Exhibit, Fashion Show, New Work, Peeps, Still-life, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on September 27, 2009

I’m really excited about my upcoming (and first) show. I think -everyone- that’s alive should attend 😉

Please come see “The Furniture Maker” series photo exhibit at Boulevard 3 on October 23, 2009.

Fashion Fusion Invite

Fashion Fusion Invite

As you can see I will be joined by two incredibly talented artists (and friends): Brandon Morrison for whyrHymer and Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier.

Anyone can come and can bring as many people as they want. Doors open at 9:30 am and the entry is free until 11 pm (from then on, you will need to pay $20).

There’s a free fajita bar and fresh fruit fondue as well.

RSVP here:

or see our facebook invite here:

I wil be showing the 13 large size prints that make my series “The Furniture Maker” as well as the addendum to the series “The Furniture Maker (still lifes)” which will be shown digitally on all screens inside the venue.

The Furniture Maker (still lifes)

The Furniture Maker (still lifes)

If you want to come see the show, make sure you RSVP and if you have any questions send me an email at tokyphotography at gmail dot com

The Furniture Maker show

Posted in New Work, Toky Photography, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on September 25, 2009

This is a little promo image for a new series of still life images of Furniture making tools I shot to accompany “The Furniture Maker” exhibit I will be having on October 23 at Boulevard 3 in Los Angeles. More info to come on that but for now, this little teaser.

The Furniture Maker. October 23, 2009. Boulevard 3. Nine-thirty pm.

The Furniture Maker. October 23, 2009. Boulevard 3. Nine-thirty pm.

Vote for #40

Posted in Peeps, whyrHymer by tokyphotography on September 23, 2009

My bestest friend needs your help. Voting is open for one of his pieces to earn the title of Top 10 designs of 2009. California Home + Design is holding the contest. Please vote for #40. The Kalifornia Lounger.

Vote for #40!

Vote for #40!

Click on the image to vote. Thanks!

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