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Anthony is an amateur photographer who's struggled with Instagram's reality-distortion field

Anthony is an amateur photographer and a professional product designer.

In 2011 he earned a degree in advertising, and spent several years after college working for an ad agency. He burned out on advertising after a couple of years, and made a transition into product design, landing at Pivotal Labs in 2014, where he worked on projects for clients large and small. After a few years he started to feel the itch to go "in-house", and has spent the last couple of years at Shopify as a Senior Product Designer.

Anthony Menecola
© Anthony Menecola — "On the run"

Anthony started taking his photography more seriously about three years ago. While working a professional designer, he was used to having a creative hobby outside his day job, and played music in a band. When he stopped playing music, photography began to fill that role in his life.

Anthony Menecola
© Anthony Menecola — "Daydreaming with my muse"

When his girlfriend (now fiancé) moved from Toronto to L.A. to attend dental school, he bought a Fuji X100T and was inspired by his frequent visits to sunny L.A. Even though Toronto is an urban center and interesting place to photograph in its own right, being outside his hometown and familiar scenery moved him to photograph more. He forced himself to shoot in manual mode in order to learn the fundamentals more quickly.

Anthony was originally drawn to street photography, with its accessibility and its ability to find beauty in the mundane. However, he doesn't want to feel limited by a certain genre, and is working on developing his skill in portraiture.

Instagram played a role in getting him into photography in the first place. He quickly found a lot of photographers that inspired him through the use of popular hashtags, and looking at who his friends were following.

As he's continued to post on Instagram and grow his following, his anxiety around the service has grown too. He feels pressure to have a perfectly curated profile, and is often stressed by what image to post next, second guessing himself as to whether a photo is good enough or fits within his account's visual theme. He's been experimenting with an additional creative constraint: posting alternating landscape and portrait images with white borders to create a dynamic visual effect on his profile page.

Anthony Menecola
© Anthony Menecola — "Sugo"

Anthony wants to pursue photography projects that are more narrative. He's half Italian and half Hungarian, and his Italian family makes a giant batch of tomato sauce every year, for the whole year. Last year, he chose to document that process, and when he shared it online, he got a an unusually positive response.

Now three years in to his journey with photography, he's more confident in his technical ability, and is looking to take things to another level. He feels that getting feedback now will be more helpful for him to grow as a photographer. In the beginning, he heeded the advice that the best way to get better is to just get out and shoot as much as you can. He feels that critical feedback at that early stage would have been less helpful, relative to where he is now.

He has considered pursuing photography full time, and actually did a gig as a second shooter with a friend who's a professional wedding photographer. He found the experience harrowing, with so much pressure to get exactly the right shot, and no margin for error. In that way, he sees the value in remaining as an amateur photographer, and not limiting himself creatively or being pigeon-holed into a certain style of work.

Anthony Menecola
Anthony Menecola — Untitled

Anthony's work on Instagram is stream-of-consciousness, never lingering too long on anything in particular. However, the diverse choice of subjects are held together by consistent stylistic themes. There's a strong emphasis on shape and geometry, and exciting diagonal lines are evident in many of his strongest photos, present in three of the images above (On the run, Muse, Sugo).

He often restricts himself to a monochromatic palette: the summery green grass in On the run, the fiery reds in Sugo, and the depressed blues of Untitled.

There's a strong sense of loneliness in his work. Many photos are beautiful locales entirely devoid of people. His fiancé is a recurrent theme, showing up again and again in the stream of images. He usually captures her in a glamorized way—frames that one might mistakenly assume are pulled from a big-budget movie in which his fiancé is the starlet.

You can find more of Anthony's work on Instagram. His story "Sugo", documenting his family's sauce making is available here.

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