All Images: Voula Monoholias
In a weekly series, photographer Voula Monoholias goes behind the curtain to see where and how creatives live.
This week, Monoholias is invited into the Toronto condo of Tony Koukos, world travel photographer.
You travel all over the world for your photography, why do you choose to living in Toronto?
Tony: It’s one flight away from the world, and also one flight away from family. Toronto is a good city, with a lot of potential. If you work hard here, things do happen!
What’s the best thing about your space?
Tony: The openness! I am very high up, in the sky, with a glass/corner suite… I see to infinity. But it is definitely too small for a growing business.
What appeals you to condo living?
Tony: I simply lock the door and leave. You do pay for it with condominium fees, but it is simple living. I never worry about my place when I am half way across the world. Security, underground parking, etc… It’s all worth it. My mind is on shooting, not wondering if the roof is leaking at home.
Best thing about working from home? Do you have any advice to anyone who is going to freelance work from home?
Tony: My commute is 10 feet. I take the time that I would’ve spent driving on the 401, and invest that in my business. People think I am always traveling and taking pictures. The realty is that’s less than 5% of my year, the rest is selling, production, web management, product development and more. Working from home allows me to be focused without any distractions. I don’t have TV either, so one less distraction as well.
As for advice… Be focused and disciplined. Have a list for everything that needs to get done everyday. It is easy to get side-tracked. A master business plan. “Plan the work, and work the plan,” if you can envisions something in your mind, it becomes reality
Favourite at-home pass time?
Tony: Love cooking and having dinner parties! A home is to be lived in. Amazing memories should be created in your space. It’s nice to be in a controlled environment as well. You place, the music you want to hear, cook what you want to eat, and you don’t have loud people to yell over, or have to listen to the people six inches away. You can have quality conversations. Before you know it, the coffee table is moved, and people are dancing the meal off. Always a great time and never a dull moment. People leave always saying, “What an amazing night!”
Most fun you’ve ever had at home?
Tony: The best times were created during New Year’s last year. Two back-to-back New Year’s parties. The night on of December 31, 2010 was so much fun, probably had about 70 to 80 people filter through a 569 square foot space. The next day, started cleaning and the phone would not stop with texts “OMG…What an amazing time!” or “OMG… I can’t wish I could’ve come, I heard it was a blast”, so I washed all the glasses, went back to St. Lawrence Markets and stocked up again, and had another one all over again. Repeat guests and the ones who missed the first one. Definitely a New Year’s to remember!
Party twice, clean once was my thought process! This past year, I went to Mexico for a best friend’s 50th birthday party. I didn’t touch or wash a glass this time.
Favourite neighbourhood restaurant?
Tony: My kitchen, friends always ask, “TK, when are you cooking again?” From, Bolognese to Butter Chicken, I try to make it all. I am very particular when it comes to restaurants, as I like to “see” the kitchen. It’s a Greek thing, my parents had a restaurant and the kitchen had to be spotless.
Toronto has incredible restaurants though. I find myself drifting back to GUSTO regularly, new’ish place at King & Portland. The FUNGHI (mushroom) pasta is incredible. Be sure to hit the gym before & after!
Recommended reading for aspiring photographers?
Tony: I suggest good books on business and personal growth and development. My storage unit if full of a huge box of books I have read. I saw in there the other day, and was shocked that all this has filtered through my eyes and into my brain. Every book, even if it’s only one think is a very small slice of the pie, called “SUCCESS.” I always underline key points and thoughts so that I can revisit them. Think & Grow Rich, by Napolean Hill was one I read on the train while traveling throughout Italy in 2002. Books on opening your mind on the business side will help. Most artists are creative, but don’t understand business. You can have the most incredible art, but it you don’t have “umph” to get out there and sell it, it’s only worth the cost of the paints and canvas. Take it to market yourself and make 100 per cent of the sales, rather than have someone give you 50 per cent or less. Take an accelerated business course.
What do you love coming home to?
Tony: My bed, my fridge and my shower… and high-speed internet! Oh… and my espresso maker. There is a lot of “BAD COFFEE” out there.
Travelling and changing rooms constantly can be very exhausting. Between airports, security, carrying equipment, photographing, running a business half way across the world, and travel from points… you need to be well-rested and in good health to pull off a great shoot. I traveled for six months in 2001, and was never so excited to come home to my bed and a home-cooked meal.
Favourite piece in your house:
Tony: I would have to say “The Blue Grotto.” I am an Aries, but I love water. It’s organic and calming. I go to sleep and wake up to this image every day that I am home. It reminds me of what a beautiful planet we live on… So we need to learn to respect it a little more!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Tony: Inspiration is everywhere! Just scan your surroundings and you will find it. I love details… Windows of Paris especially! Paris inspires me… that’s where I find it, I guess. I’ve also found beautiful pieces of crackled wood on the Greek Islands that fisherman beat their brushes on to get excess paint off. The layering of paint and baking in the sun has created these beautiful abstract palettes.
People think I’m nuts when they see me photographing things like this. I remember a little Nonna (little, older grandmother) in Tuscany saying “Pazzo” (crazy/insane in Italian), when I was photographing door knockers in this small village in Italy. “I’m thinking in my head.. Just wait… You’ll see!”
Any upcoming photo trips booked?
Tony: Paris… My favorite city in early June! Scandinavia, for the first time, with friends in the summer, and potentially India in November for Diwali Festival.
I am currently at 38 countries, and would like to be at 45 by the end of the year.
Voula Monoholias is a contributing photographer for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter @voulavous.