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Toyo Miyatake Studio

Japanese-born Toyo Miyatake came to the United States with his family in 1909 at the age of fourteen and settled in a house on Jackson Street in Little Tokyo. Against his parents' wishes, Miyatake cultivated an interest in photography and became an accomplished professional who studied with well-known photographer Edward Weston. He opened Toyo Miyatake Studio on Central Avenue in the late 1930s and quickly became the mainstay for family portraiture in the local Japanese American community. During World War II, Miyatake was forced to close his business when his family was sent to the concentration camp at Manzanar. While in camp, Miyatake was visited by photographer Ansel Adams, an acquaintance through his friendship with Weston. Adams photographed the Miyatake family in their barrack at camp and the photo was included in Adam's famous Born Free and Equal collection. After the war, Miyatake returned to Los Angeles and reopened his studio. In the late 1940s, the studio began a relationship with the Rafu Shimpo that continued through the 1980s, shooting photos of current events, civic happenings, and other community activities for the newspaper. Because of the Miyatake family's reputation in the community, they were a welcomed presence throughout the city and were able to document a remarkable breadth of events and people. Archie Miyatake, Toyo's son, became one of the studio's most prolific photographers on the beat and took over the studio after his father's retirement. Today, Alan Miyatake, Archie's son, manages the still thriving studio, making it, like the Rafu Shimpo, another three generation Japanese American business.



 

 

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