Photographing Skeletons

TIA International Photography would like to use this article as a special opportunity to promote two partners who have been integral to promoting TIA in the last year.  The first partner is Kirk DeMatas, the author of “Wordspeak” (2008) and, more recently, “Conversations with Skeletons” (2012).  TIA provided some photography for “Wordspeak”, and was hired exclusively to do the photography for “Conversations with Skeletons”.


In 2013, The Seattle Grind, an independently owned coffee shop in Seattle, has been showcasing framed images of TIA’s work.  Located at 516 Harrison Street at the intersection of 5th Avenue North, directly across from the iconic Space Needle at the Seattle Center, The Seattle Grind has been a magnificent partner to TIA.  If you live in Seattle, or plan to visit in the near future, please visit The Seattle Grind for some delicious coffee.  They also offer tasty pastries, scrumptious sandwiches, and a variety of unique beverages.

In fact, there is currently a bit of a crossover between TIA’s partners as The Seattle Grind recently selected an image of Kirk, “When Lambs Feast on Forbidden Fruit” from “Conversations with Skeletons”, to display in the café!

"When Lambs Feast on Forbidden Fruit”  / Photo of Kirk DeMatas from “Conversations with Skeletons"
“When Lambs Feast on Forbidden Fruit” / Photo of Kirk DeMatas from “Conversations with Skeletons”
Kirk’s Image from “Conversations with Skeletons” featured in The Seattle Grind
Kirk’s Image from “Conversations with Skeletons” featured in The Seattle Grind
The Seattle Grind Coffee Shop
The Seattle Grind Coffee Shop during Pride Festival, June 2013
Customers line up at the Seattle Grind!

Welcome to the Seattle Grind!
Welcome to the Seattle Grind!

The Seattle Grind & TIA -- Partners in Promotion
The Seattle Grind & TIA — Partners in Promotion!
TIA believes it is important to promote the work of other photographers and their creative talents, which is why many exclusive interviews with different photographers are featured on this blog.  There are a plethora of magnificent photographers (professionals, amateurs, and up-and-coming) who share their gifts with the world on a daily basis.  Shortly before “Conversations with Skeletons” was published, Kirk turned the spotlight around and thought it would be ideal for his book to include and feature an interview of the photographer, much to TIA’s surprise and delight.  Please find this interview below.
TIA sincerely thanks Kirk DeMatas and The Seattle Grind for their partnership and efforts to promote its images!


Tosin I. Arasi, President of TIA International Photography specializes in capturing urban vistas and natural landscapes.

Tosin I. Arasi, a Seattle-based photographer has amassed a portfolio containing thousands of photos chronicling his visits to North American cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver, as well as international cities such as Hong Kong, Macau, London, and Paris.

From CWS photo shoot.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada. March 2012
From CWS photo shoot. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (September 2011)

How does a photographer with a passion for capturing urban and natural wonders become the perfect choice to photograph a poet at his most vulnerable?

Kirk DeMatas states: “I was already fairly familiar with Tosin’s work as we have been close friends for years. When I was thinking about the artwork for my second book, I knew that I most certainly needed to work with a photographer who could get into my head, which also meant that I needed to work with someone I could trust. Tosin was the only logical choice. This project presented an opportunity for us to push ourselves artistically and personally, and I think we achieved what we set out to do.”

Now, to delve further into the photography for Conversations with Skeletons, Tosin I. Arasi sits down with Kirk DeMatas to reflect over their first major collaboration.

Kirk: Can you tell us what inspired you to transform your passion for photography into a business?

TIA: It took several years of convincing before I ventured into creating a small business for the photography. I have been taking photographs since I was a child, but it wasn’t until my late twenties when I started to really take notice of the positive feedback and accolades from my family and friends for the images I had captured. They had seen something in my work that took me a while to personally appreciate. In March 2007, I was contacted by the City of Boston and informed that one of my photographs had been selected as a winner of their citywide photography competition. There were over four hundred entries, and only thirty-five pictures had been selected, one of which was my own. The significance behind this achievement was that I was the only non-resident of Boston to win. This was a fairly big occasion, as Mayor Thomas Menino himself was scheduled to present personal plaques to each of the photographers at an awards ceremony, which I was unable to attend due to my relocation from Washington, D.C. to Seattle. Regardless, that recognition was the trigger, the impetus. From that moment, I had become inspired to do more with my photography. I had a desire to travel more, visit more cities, capture these magnificent places on camera, and explore the world around me. By late 2009, I had finally developed the confidence to take the leap and the risk, to register my business with the City of Seattle as a sole proprietor, and TIA International Photography was born. Without the encouragement and support of my family and friends, including you, Kirk, TIA International would never have happened.

Kirk: TIA International Photography is quickly building a global reputation for capturing breath-taking cityscapes, landscapes and natural scenes. How challenging was it to photograph a living and breathing subject, for the Conversations with Skeletons project?

From CWS photo shoot.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada. March 2012
From CWS photo shoot. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (September 2011)

TIA: That is an excellent question. When you had initially approached me about the idea of doing the photography for CWS (Conversations with Skeletons), I was exhilarated and terrified at the same time. I was excited for the challenge and the scale of the project because it was completely foreign to my familiar comfort zone of capturing the personality of the different cities and urban landscapes, to which I was so well accustomed. However, there was a part of me that was frightened because I was engaging in such a personal and intimate project for one of my closest friends. The fear of failing to deliver excellent photography began to creep into my psyche, but I had to eliminate it over time simply for the reason that you had faith in me. Instinctively, you knew, well before I did, that I could handle the responsibility. You already knew that you wanted me, based in Seattle, to provide the photography when you could have gone with an unlimited number of photographers based locally in Toronto. Still, the challenge was always there for me. In my mind, failure was not an option because it meant a lot to me to be involved in CWS. I knew how much this book meant to you and how hard you had strived to create it. The advantage we had was our friendship. You and I are not strangers. We’re more like brothers, and because of that relationship, I was more attuned to what you were trying to achieve when we started to discuss ideas several months in advance. That dynamic and synergy would not exist if we were not familiar with our respective personalities and the idiosyncrasies that come with them.

From CWS photo shoot.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada. March 2012
From CWS photo shoot. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (September 2011)

Kirk: If you could choose one photo from Conversations with Skeletons that epitomizes the theme of this book, which photo would you choose and why?

TIA: I would have to say the shot of you crawling in the elevator. When we were shooting images in the old elevator lift at the studio, that was when I started to fully grasp the atmosphere, mood, vibe and theme of CWS. You were playing a certain role, and I felt I was more than a photographer capturing the moment, which was significant. I was the observer, the reader, the viewer, and the pedestrian who crossed paths with your character. I began to ask myself while taking the photographs how I would feel if I were to suddenly encounter your character. I could fully perceive what it was you were communicating. Essentially, we were both in character, and I had a clear vision of what you wanted to convey to your audience. This particular image set the tone for me, which was towards the beginning of the photo shoot. I thought this was beneficial because I believe what you were trying to achieve had resonated with me, which led to a coherency I could maintain for all the other images. The synergy had always existed beforehand, during all our discussions and plans months in advance, but this image was my “I get it” moment. This image encapsulates and epitomizes CWS for me.

TIA’s “I Get It” moment. From CWS photo shoot.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada. March 2012
TIA’s “I Get It” moment. From CWS photo shoot. Toronto, Ontario, Canada (September 2011)

All photography for Conversations with Skeletons by Tosin I. Arasi/TIA International Photography.

Kirk, Al, Cat, and Tosin (TIA) at the end of the CWS photo shoot.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  March 2012.
Kirk, Al, Cat, and Tosin (TIA) at the end of the CWS photo shoot. Toronto, Ontario, Canada (September 2011).

4 thoughts on “Photographing Skeletons

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  1. Great blog post Tosin! Thank you again for all of your support, creative and positive energy, and vision! CWS was a success and that’s due to our collaboration! I’m looking forward to more collaborative projects with you!!!

    1. You’re very welcome, Kirk. I was happy to contribute, and I am glad the timing was right with the Seattle Grind’s recent selection of your image to showcase in the coffee shop. Best wishes with all your future creative endeavors and projects! I’m sure we will collaborate again, maybe several times, in fact, in the future.

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