A Toronto-based photographer is making waves with a new photo project to promote body positivity.
Anthony Patrick Manieri, 47, is a self-taught, full-time photographer who specializes in portraiture and food photography. He also does the occasional wedding commission.
‘Over the past 25 years, I can remember countless times when the subject I was photographing would mention something about themselves that they didn’t like, and would prefer if I could mask that specific physical insecurity,’ Manieri says, explaining how the idea for his Arrested Movement project came about.
Manieri says this struck a nerve with him.
‘It was a behavior I practiced as well in my 20’s and 30’s. I would immediately mention my weight when I would walk into a room and make a joke about it first, in hopes that no one else would.’
Manieri says he has been studying spirituality and practicing mindfulness and meditation for several years. It drew him to the idea of promoting body positivity.
‘The researcher Masaru Emoto believed that water has consciousness, and it reacts to positive and negative energy and vibration. Adult human bodies are made up of 60% water. If we body shame ourselves, or other people for that matter, it will inherently affect us on a molecular level. Our bodies can hear us, so we need to be kind to ourselves.’
Manieri says this new project is a slight departure for him. Censored images from the series are featured here.
‘I had been photographing portraits of bear-ish men, which I enjoyed, but most of it had no personal relevance to my current work or mind set. Except for one image [top of page] that I had taken of a friend in London a year prior.
‘It was used on his Instagram page, and it had been received very well. In October 2016, while sitting on a plane headed back to London, I felt as if the idea of Arrested Movement was downloaded into my brain.
‘I used that image as a starting point. When I landed, I knew exactly what kind of project I was going to work on. I had no idea, however, it would consist of photographing in multiple cities across North America and Europe.’
Manieri says that when he arrived back in Toronto, he initially asked a handful of guys if they’d pose for him. At the eleventh hour, and to fill up the whole day of studio time, he posted an open call for participants.
‘What went from expecting to only photograph 10-15 men and have the series completed in one day, instead over 30 men reached out confirming their interest, which then turned into a full two-day, 20-hour shoot.
‘Some of the men were local to Toronto, and some men lived as far as five hours away, commuting in a snow storm in January.
‘I asked each of the men why they decided to participate, and for some to have driven that far through those conditions.
‘The majority of their answers were the same: This series wasn’t erotic or exploitive. It was an artistic narrative of self-love and self empowerment, it was something completely out of their comfort zone, and they believed the message behind it could help others, if not just themselves.’
He says that when his initial models began to post the images from his first shoot, men quickly contacted him to ask if he had plans to visit other cities.
Shoots worldwide: ‘It seems this project has hit a nerve’
‘I’ve received messages from people all over North America and Europe, some from the Middle East, Australia and South America…inquiring about the project, sharing their stories and support…and for some, their willingness to participate in it. It seems this project has hit a nerve. It has become a very humbling experience.’
He’s now self-funded shoots in Montreal, Vancouver, London, Rome, NYC and Miami. Los Angeles will be next.
The project, once completed, will enjoy a gallery tour. An uncensored book is also in the pipeline.
He says some of the shoots have proved emotionally testing. Some of his models – the majority of whom are gay – have come with particularly touching stories. One man was dealing with serious illness and facing an uncertain future, but was determined to be captured by Manieri’s lens, despite not feeling at his best.
‘This is an inclusive project about self-empowerment and being able to love yourself’
There has been some debate online whether the use of ‘plus size’ models promotes unhealthy body ideals. Has Manieri had any negative reaction to the portraits?
‘I find it amusing and sad at the same time, as I’ve already started to receive a few comments from internet trolls. But they are out-weighed by the vast amount of positive feedback the project has received,’ he replies.
‘This project has nothing to do with celebrating or promoting obesity, eating disorders, or an unhealthy lifestyle. This is an inclusive project about self-empowerment and being able to love yourself just as you are.
‘It’s for men of all races, from very thin to large, Little People to super tall, men who live with physical disabilities, transgendered men, Two Spirited men…everyone.
‘The pressures to look perfect can be isolating. We as a culture are being fed images through advertising, movies, television and now the juggernaut of social media as to what the perfect body is. But isn’t everyone perfect?’
For more information check ArrestedMovement.com