Inspiring Creator Series: Jacob Manfred

Post by
Marisa Young
Inspiring Creator Series: Jacob Manfred

Jacob Manfred is a food, beverage and product photographer based in Melbourne, Australia who specialises in creating stunning visuals for brands. His passion for photography developed in childhood, but his professional career began modestly - by offering to shoot in local cafés for free to build his portfolio. This grit and persistence have paid off. Today, his client list features some of the biggest brands across Australia and the globe.

Over time, Jacob leveraged his self-taught techniques and innate creative visions to establish himself as one of the most sought-after food and product photographers in the region. His skills are now augmented by his proficiency in photo editing and styling - a complete package that delivers deliciously good editorial-quality visuals.

Beyond commercial projects, Jacob nurtures the creative community through educational content and mentoring. He shares photography and photo editing tips to his legion of followers on his YouTube channel. He is also releasing a digital book documenting the behind-the-scenes magic of some of his photoshoots challenging others to do the same and push their creative boundaries too.

Jacob's inspiring journey from volunteering his skills in cozy cafes to landing key brand partnerships is inspiring in itself and teaching others is a testament to the results that passion, persistence and vision can achieve. Get to know more about Jacob and how he gives back by championing others in his creative field.

Meet Jacob Manfred

Hey Jacob! How did your journey to photography start? Have you always been a food, beverage and product photographer?

Hi I’m Jacob. I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Back in my primary school days, I rocked this digital camera that was basically a pixel fossil—it was VGA, not even a megapixel! But guess what? I was a photo-editing wizard even then.

Fast forward to my gig as a graphic designer where I crossed paths with an amazing photographer who inspired me with their work. Since then I decided to dive into weekend photography for cafes to see if I enjoyed this particular genre of photography.

Picture this: me on a Saturday, offering free photo services to cafes, dreaming of building a killer portfolio. My genius plan? If I knocked out some awesome gigs, I would level up my skills and eventually summon the courage to charge for my awesome photos.

Guess what? It totally worked! From cafes, I smoothly slid into the restaurant scene—it's practically the same vibe. But let me tell you, diving into product photography was like entering a whole new universe. I had to crack the code of light fundamentals to bend artificial light to my whims.

Long story short, I turned my weekend hobby into a legit career, one café and restaurant at a time. Who knew a pixel-peasant camera could lead to such cool adventures? 📸✨

What are some things people might not know about you?

I enjoy drumming, particularly to the beats of rock music.

Pastries hold a special place in my heart, and I've crafted a unique move: dipping a croissant into a steaming cappuccino or chai latte. It's a delightful combination worth experiencing—don't forget to tag me if you give it a try!

Additionally, I find joy in hiking and immersing myself in the outdoors, especially on beautiful sunny days.

What equipment do you currently use to produce your content?

The gear I use is a Manfrotto tripod, the powerhouse Godox AD600 Pro for lighting, and the Canon 1DX Mark 2 (though, TBH, it's a bit extra—I used to rock fantastic shots on the Canon 5D Mark 2).

Oh, and let's talk softbox game. My go-to is a 120cm softbox umbrella. Why? Because it collapses just like an umbrella, making life ridiculously convenient.

Do you have a favourite lighting setup?

I'm all about that lighting life, especially anything packing a punch over 400 watts with a sweet modeling lamp. My current go-to? The Godox AD600 Pro.

Flashback to when I splurged on this bad boy—it was a pretty penny for me back then. I wasn't rolling in high-paying gigs, but I had this gut feeling that this light was my ticket to the big leagues. I thought, "This is it. This light's gonna catapult my work to new heights!" Turns out, not so much. That's when it hit me—I was in the dark about how light vibes with different objects and surfaces. Lesson learned.

What are your three favourite props to use?

I've got my top three favorite props in my photography arsenal. Firstly, white plinths of varying heights—they add a dynamic touch to my setups. Next up, makeup wedges come in handy for propping and angling food elements or products just right. And even though they're not exactly props, I can't resist incorporating hands into my photos—it adds that extra touch of life and connection.

Which other creators do you admire and find inspiring?

Teri Studios is hands down an incredible photographer, consistently sharing jaw-dropping work. The mastery with which he sculpts light to make his photos look absolutely delectable is awe-inspiring. I look up to his skills and work tirelessly to replicate that mouthwatering quality in my own photography.

What is your best advice to share with aspiring photographers?

For budding photographers out there, here's my golden nugget of advice: hone in on your vision. Concentrate on the type of work you want to make a living from. Craft a moodboard filled with the kind of photos that get your creative juices flowing, and then dive into learning and experimenting to bring those visions to life.

Next up, do your homework—figure out the market that's willing to pay for the magic you create. Once you've got that down, set up shop on Instagram and build a website tailored to your target audience's taste. And when all the virtual groundwork is done, it's time to hit the streets—reach out through emails, make some face-to-face appearances, and slide into those Instagram DMs to introduce yourself. Hustle pays off!


How do you keep learning and evolving your skills?

My approach to continuous learning and skill evolution involves revisiting the basics, reinforcing my understanding to share with all of you. Maya Angelou's quote resonates with me: "When you learn, teach, when you get, give." Back in the day, when I delved into food photography, resources were scarce. So, each nugget of knowledge I gained, I aimed to pay it forward through YouTube and Instagram. That's where my true passion unfolded—I discovered the joy of teaching food and product photography. There's something truly special about someone expressing how you've impacted their life, a satisfaction I find even more rewarding than working on grand photoshoots. Please do check out my channel Roar Factory on YouTube and give it a follow if you find the videos to be helpful.

Your behind-the-scenes reels are really popular (one even has over 10M views!), any advice for creatives wanting to produce this type of content?

Craft content that comes naturally and brings you genuine joy because that's the stuff you'll end up creating in abundance. Consistency is the name of the game—yeah, I know, it's a cliché, but trust me, it holds water. Consider basketball players or any top-tier athletes—they didn't become pros overnight. Hours of practice paved their way to greatness. So, if you're stuck on ideas, take a scroll through reels or TikToks; let the creativity of others spark inspiration. After all, the best ideas often come when you're vibing with what's out there!

Tell us a bit about your upcoming photo book release! Did you always have aspirations to write a book or was it a natural progression?

I'm thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my cafe and restaurant digital guide this month – your ultimate secret weapon for crafting delectable and visually stunning photos. As I embarked on my venture into cafe and restaurant photography, I quickly realized the immense value of behind-the-scenes shots. It's the kind of knowledge that, if you're not aware of it, remains elusive. Observing others set up scenes has been instrumental in my experimentation, providing insights into the nuances of light and its impact on the final image.

The digital book will contain over 20 images, with the behind the scenes to help you replicate the same shot. I even provide the exact settings for you to experiment and replicate these mouthwatering shots yourself. It will be limited to the first 100 people so do follow my instagram for the release information. It will also make for a great Christmas present (sorry, shameless plug).

What is next for you?

The next chapter for me involves turning my attention to the younger version of myself—the one who didn't have a clue about the things I've mastered today. I'm on a mission to pay it forward and teach everything I've learned. The more I hear someone say, "Thank you, that video made a huge difference," the more my passion for teaching grows. My dream? To build a career centered around giving back and helping others thrive.

Thank you Jacob for sharing your journey in food and product photography with our community. Your vibrant and engaging style is truly inspirational.

For those interested in more of Jacob's work and to stay updated on his upcoming courses and book, make sure to follow him on Instagram. You can also gain deeper insights and learn from Jacob by subscribing to his YouTube channel.

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