Tony Menias

“Empathy is the connecting force between us humans and the world encompassing. Without it, I wouldn’t care what is happening around me, let alone document it. “

How did your journey in art start? When did you encounter photography and decided to make it your medium?

I was first exposed to the arts when I was just a child in middle school. I was enrolled in the theater program at school where I acted and sang in musicals. This was around the same time my father(who was also a photography enthusiast) gifted me my first film camera. I took it everywhere with me, I documented my days at school and outings with friends. My photos were nothing artistic at the time, just documents of my daily life. It wasn’t until later in my life that my view of the world had evolved. After graduating high school, my father passed away. I wanted to honor him by following in his footsteps and become a physician. I left all that I knew behind in the U.S. and moved to Egypt with my mother. I was accepted into medical school and new era of my life began. Living in a developing country broadened my view of the world. I began seeing things in a different light and my handy little camera helped me capture it. Photography became my main outlet of artistic expression and my medium of choice.

You have followed the footsteps of your father, combining a career as a physician with a true passion for photography. Have you ever felt the existence of a personal link between these two so different sectors?

Absolutely. The two worlds may seem very different, but in essence they are both rooted in one thing; empathy. Empathy is the connecting force between us humans and the world encompassing. Without it, I wouldn’t care what is happening around me, let alone document it. 

Your website name is beloveful.com. That is a very interesting phrase…what does it tell us of your relationship with photography?

“Let all that you do be done with love” is a verse from the Holy Bible that has always resonated with me. Beloveful is a word I created which embodies what I believe, act, and how I see the world. Beloveful=Be full of love.

You are a serious traveler and your documentary and street photography are a testimony for a restless and curious eye. What is the trip that has most touched you? Why? 

The trip that touched me the most was a medical mission trip to Ethiopia back in 2014. I witnessed a very underserved and poverty stricken country, and yet it was so rich with beauty and culture.

Are you more about documenting what you see or more a storyteller of the places you cross? Is there a difference for you?

I believe they are one in the same. I choose to document how the world shows itself to me. There’s a story behind everything and everyone on this earth and I believe they deserve recognition. 

Traveling and taking photographs, especially in remote areas, must be very different today compared to 30 or more years ago. What role do you think has the internet, social media in particular, played in modifying the perception of photography and photographers?

The internet and technology as a whole has played a vital role in the tourism industry. Remote areas are not so remote anymore, anyone can book a flight  to the other side of the world in a matter of minutes. Patience is barely practiced and the demand for immediate satisfaction is unfortunately growing. Social media connects the world together. However, everything has its pros and cons. Instead of waiting for the next travel-guide book or National Geographic to be published, we have beautiful imagery of exotic destinations at our fingertips. Instagram helped pave the runway for people to see the once hidden places of the world. Of course, this has it downsides, sacred sites are being defiled by tourists and clean beaches are littered. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook helped create new branches of photography; selfies for example wasn’t a thing, but nowadays you better duck around touristy areas because they swing selfie sticks around haphazardly. Anyone can take a picture but the art of photography will always be reserved for the enthusiast.

One of your series is “City and Architecture”. What are the elements that most intrigue you visually in these contexts?

Man’s ability to stand up-right gave humans the first view of the right angle. We imitate this angle in all that we build. From the ancient times to the present, lines surround us. Lines help accentuate depth, perspective, and scale. Street photography wouldn’t be named so without our cities and architecture.

You have been able to safely transition from the stable career of a physician to the one of a full-time photographer. What made it possible for you? Any tips you feel giving to achieve a similar result?

I definitely would not call it a safe transition. It wasn’t without lots of falls and struggles to get me where I am today. My passion for photography and the support of my family laid the foundation to help me continuously build. My advice for anyone pursuing their dreams is: Do what you love and love what you do. Otherwise, what’s it all for?

The equipment you cannot do without when shooting (except for the camera!)?

A small backpack that usually consists of a travel book, water, snacks, extra batteries, memory cards, and an extra lens or two and a backup camera 🙂

A living photographer you want to give a shout out to and suggest our readers?

A lot of my inspiration came from reading National Geographic as a kid. One of the photographers that had the most profound effect on me has to be Steve Mccurry. His work continues to inspire me till this day and would love to work with him and learn from a true master.

Next and upcoming projects?

Sub-saharan Africa is next on the bucket list. It’s been a dream of mine to capture the daily life of the indigenous tribes there and witness the gorgeous landscapes and wildlife.

Credits: Tony Menias

Follow Tony Menias:

Website: https://beloveful.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Beloveful/

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