Portraits of Lexy Panterra

Recently, while in Los Angeles (and among other projects), I collaborated with, and shot promotional portraits of recording artist and actress Lexy Panterra, in L.A.'s beautiful fashion district.

Given Lexy's Persian heritage and laid back personality, I felt connected to her as soon as we met, due to the fact that I grew up in Toronto's North York district, with a number of close friends who are of Iranian descent. In fact, prior to high school, at least a quarter of my friends were children of Iranian immigrants, and from a certain perspective, hanging out with, and working with Lexy felt familiar -- as if I was spending time with an old friend.

Moreover, I was excited to work with her, due to her obvious talent and beauty, and I was curious to find out how a relatively young artist was able to amass a social media following of well over two million fans (via Instagram alone), within a relatively short time period.

My excitement was further amplified by the fact that I was working with Lexy's highly-organized assistant, Naaz Amirsadeghi, her talented make-up artist, Jenny Ventura, and my friend Monica Seggos, who happens to be one of the most gifted stylists that I have worked with. As such, I entered a state of flow and extreme focus, prior to taking a single picture, primarily because I fed off of the creative energy in the awesome studio that we were working in (FD Photo Studio), and also because we had a clear game plan of combining cool, late 80s and early 90s looks with modern looks.

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a j a n i photography: Caribana 2015

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, more commonly known as Caribana was definitely one of the events that contributed to my definition and experience of Toronto as a youth.

Recently, I attended the Caribana parade for the first time in four years and even though quite a bit had changed within the structure and administration behind the event, I had a great time and felt a sense of pride and gratitude for my caribbean, Haitian and African roots.

I felt a great deal of positive energy and happiness as I walked through the parade, photographing those that played mas as powerful soca music reverberated throughout the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.

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a j a n i photography: Flow

"Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" is psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigation of "optimal experience" wherein he reveals that the most genuinely satisfying moments involve a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity and a total involvement with life and what they are presently engaged in.

With that said, I believe that very few human endeavours embody the state of flow as clearly or as beautifully as the art of dance.

Even though I think of myself as a visual artist, I have definitely experienced other art forms firsthand and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for all artistic mediums, especially those that I have not invested thousands of hours into.

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Video: "The Convergence Campaign" By Manifesto Community Projects And The Remix Project

Over the course of the last eight years, I have had the honor of learning from, collaborating with and building with some of  Toronto's most talented artists and community leaders through the Remix Project and also through  Manifesto (which is otherwise known as Manifesto Community Projects).

Collaborating with both organizations has definitely helped me to curtail the fears and daunting existential dilemmas that most creative individuals experience. Furthermore, since 2007, being amongst like-minded members of Manifesto and the Remix Project always reminded me that I was not alone and that I should always dream big and follow through on those dreams. Watching both organizations evolve from their humble beginnings has been impressive and I am grateful for their creative energies and hugely positive impact on Canada's arts community and marginalized youth populations.

With that said, this article is a congratulatory post to my friends Gavin Sheppard and Che Kothari (along with their business partners Ryan Paterson and Drex Jancar along with the rest of their respective organizations).

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a j a n i photography: Polaroids of Alina

I love the digital age, I love social media and other aspects of digital media, I love the fact that the quality of my cellphone's camera allows me to practice my skills at any given moment and I love the fact that I can instantly share my work with thousands of people around the world.

However, even though the vast majority of the images that I shoot are presently digital, I am forever grateful for my early years as an analogue photographer that exclusively used film, between the seventh grade and my second year of university.

During those years, I was a kid, my economic resources were limited and as a result, film was limited. Furthermore, darkroom time was restricted, so I had to make every photograph count. Each roll of film was sacred , every second in the darkroom was cherished and the process of shooting and developing film was not unlike a religious rite of passage.

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Music Video: "Forever" By Majid Jordan

OVO Sound's Majid Jordan have released their Torontocentric visuals for "Forever" from their amazing "A Place Like This" EP.

The duo do not appear in the video, which instead focuses on an awesome dancer doing his thing throughout Toronto's downtown core, including parts of Chinatown, Brookfield Place and other landmarks.

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a j a n i photography: Reflective Arrangement

"Reflective Arrangement" is a series that I had a lot of fun shooting and there were many reasons behind the fact that I experienced high volumes of flow and positive energy while producing it.

Firstly, the project's process represented one of the most important aspects of my life and career: that enriching, genuine, empathic and reciprocating human interactions and relationships are paramount to one's success and must form the basis of each project (preferably before the technical details have been ironed out).

With that said, one of my many advantages as a photographer is my ability to put my subjects at ease by simply being myself, by accepting my subjects' stories and paradigms with open-mindedness and by sharing my stories and paradigms from the heart.

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a j a n i photography: Tinashe Live In Concert For The Substance Group

My friends at The Substance Group (alongside INK Entertainment) recently brought Tinashe to Tattoo in Toronto for her first Canadian tour date.

The Substance Group's timing could not have been better, as Tinashe's career has been blowing up recently with the momentum generated by her platinum single "2 On" and the recent release of her amazing debut album, "Aquarius".

As I walked into Tattoo on December 14th, I immediately realized that regular ticket holders would have very little room to breathe or move, as the venue was completely packed and filled with the infectious energy of collective anticipation.

Soon after, I spotted Boi-1da and made my way to begin photographing beside him while asking him about his perspective on Tinashe's album and career, primarily because I knew that he co-produced her hit single "Cold Sweat".

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Video: "The Washington Ballet's Hardest Dance Moves" By The Washington Post

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The Washington Post recently went behind the scenes at the Washington Ballet to get six professional dancers to show off their most difficult moves.

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Video: "MCA-DAY "Buddhist Monks" By KNARF New York

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Below, feel free to watch an unconventional and impressive promotion for MCA-DAY -- an annual tribute to musician, humanitarian and one of my favorite musicians; Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys.

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