Tōyō Miyatake Studio: serving the community through photography

By Glenn Barnett

Tōyō Mitatake in a self-portrait using an old wooden camera.

The Tōyō Miyatake Studio was founded in 1923 by photographer Tōyō Miyatake on First Street in Little Tokyo. The studio was forced to close during World War II as Tōyō and other Japanese-Americans were interned in relocation camps for the duration of the war. He and his family were sent to Manzanar in Northern California’s Owens Valley.

Tōyō secretly took pictures of Manzanar and its detainees before being named the official photographer of the camp. In 1943, the photographer Ansel Adams journeyed to Manzanar to chronicle the experience of the families there. He soon met Tōyō. They quickly bonded over the love of photography and became lifelong friends. After the war, they published a book of their combined photos titled Two Views of Manzanar.

After the war, Tōyō resumed work at his studio, and his children grew up in the family business. After Tōyō’s death in 1979, his oldest son, Archie, looked to move beyond the Little Tokyo neighborhood. In 1985, he and his son, Alan, opened a Tōyō Miyatake Studio in San Gabriel at 235 W. Fairview Ave. Today, Alan still runs the studio.

As the photography business changed, Alan changed with it. He brought the studio into the digital age from the traditional film techniques he had learned from his father and grandfather Tōyō, and his dark room became a storage closet. Tōyō Miyatake Studio still stands for quality portraiture.

Alan is often assisted by his daughter, Sydney, the fourth generation in the family business. They offer image editing along with imaginative posing and professional lighting, which enhances the traditional quality that has always been a hallmark of the family business. Former Alhambra Mayor Gary Yamauchi is a fan. He is proud that, “Alan has done all my photo work for many years.”

Professional services offered by the Tōyō Miyatake Studio include stunning images in traditional studio portraits. “Lighting is key,” Alan said. “Our knowledge of studio lighting is experienced. Consultation for your posing and clothing is important.”

Alan’s professional services include a lifetime of knowledge for capturing a wide range of different human activity. Consider family portraits, business portraits, events, kimono, graduation portraits, basketball, passports, as well as children, maternity and infant portraits. Emphasis is on helping families create memories with portraits of historical importance, weddings, graduations, engagements, etc. Alan can also scan printed pictures for digital copies.

Who are some of the famous people Alan has photographed? Vin Scully would top the list, and perhaps everyone’s list, and also Joe Biden.

Contact Alan at 626-289-5674 or toyomiyatake@sbcglobal.net. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. Closed on Monday.


photographyManzanardigital agestunning imagesstudio portraits

Jan 2022


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