Yes, believe it, I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I simply don’t like peanut butter. Never developed a taste for peanuts. And it is rare for a Cuban not to like warm roasted peanuts. ”El Manisero” the peanut vendor, always came down your street almost on a daily basis calling out to the neighbors, selling “un cucurucho de maní”! We even have a song in his honor! Check out here my favorite interpretation by Willy Chirino.
My mom made the best peanut milk shakes in the world, so they would tell me, I never had one. 🤷🏻♂️
But I have to admit peanut butter is very photogenic. So, to face my PB fears, here are a few new and old peanut butter shots, just for fun.
Over 30 original photos and approximately 200+ captures of variations and GIFs.
Shot on location in three days, with Food Stylist Paige Fletcher and Set and Prop Stylist, MikeThompson
They don’t call me “The Top Banana From Habana” for nothing! Yes, I love bananas! They are delicious, sweet, starchy, potassium-rich, and healthy.
When you’re born in Habana, Cuba, raised in Miami’s Little Havana, you get to eat lots of bananas. From platanos fritos, tostones, frozen banana shakes (made with sweetened condensed milk) to just plain bananas in almost every meal.
And I mean every meal: black beans and rice, ropa vieja… and my favorite, in bean soups. Oh! — also sliced into chicken soup, love it! I used to make “banana dogs” when I was a child. I will photograph these soon, so you can see what I mean.
In the meantime, even if you haven’t “gone bananas” like I have, you can at least enjoy my banana portfolio! ;-)
Food stylists in this portfolio are Erin Quon, and Paige Fletcher.
As I take pictures for the Gordon Ramsay marketing team here at my studio, I have this fantasy of Mr Gordon Ramsay himself busting through my studio door, look at the images on the big studio screen and start yelling at me: “You call yourself a photographer? My gran can take a better picture of that, and she’s dead!”“Not even Photoshop can save that photo!” “You should just give up photography and go back to cutting sugar cane in Cuba!” “You keep this shit up I’m going to have to take away your work visa!” Will it ever happen? I doubt it. Meanwhile I will enjoy the company of his amazing and talented marketing team and do my best to create images that they find yummy.
To my team, Taylor Gervais, Wendy Hughes, Mike Thompson, and El Gallego,
Thank You for making me look good!
Below are some of our favs and the ones we can publish for now.
Soon to come, Hell’s Kitchen!
¡Correcto! No me gusta la cerveza. I should! My dad use to let me try it all the time as a young child, along with his cigars. I never developed a taste for it though.
“For a guy that doesn’t like beer, you can sure photograph them well!” Says Mike Thompson, my prop/beer stylist. He also makes the beer, and me, look great! I don’t drink beer however with these hot temperatures here in Dallas this July, I could definitely use one of those ice cold cans on my neck. Photographed for D Magazine, an article about the beer scene in Dallas, Texas, check it out here.
Zaguan Latin Bakery and Cafe opened its doors on May 9th of 2002. Owner Carlos Branguer has been feeding my family since then. My sons will visit from out of town and the first place they want to go is Zaguan! Arepas venezolanas, cachitos de jamon y queso, sweet corn cachapas, cheese tequeños, well, if you have no idea what I am talking about, then you owe yourself a trip to this place! Eventually Carlos and I got together to help out the menu with new images. Below are some of them. If they make you want to go and try an arepa, then I have done my job, however be prepared for deliciousness that surpasses the lust of the eye.
It is already the 9th of March, but never too late to express gratitude. Gratitude for 2021! It was definitely better than 2020! Thanks to my fearless Agent H, we were able to add new clients to our list and create some memorable images for our portfolios. Chili’s, Virgin Hotels, Cafe Zupas, Svedka Vodka, Main Event, Pizza Hut, Capital One, Gordon Ramsay, and more! 2022 will be even better!
Here are just a few from 2021.
I remember in the late 90s receiving direct mail from Capital One, aggressively pushing their credit card. I always thought, how do you compete with the big ones? I can’t even imagine going up against the Master Cards, the Visa, and Amex! But here we are 25+ years later and Capital One is a giant among them, and here to stay. Truly impressive. I don’t know anything about their founders but my kudos to them. Look at them now!
Last year I had the privilege to shoot their brand new lounge at the DFW Airport. A stunningly beautiful, modern and comfortable oasis for travelers seeking a respite in between flights. Check out some of my images below and check out the Capital One website.
Thanks to the amazing production team of @JNProductionglobal who had three different camera crews at the airport location, and everything thing went smooth and without a hitch! And to my Agent Heather at The Food Photo Agency for securing the client and producing our part of the job! AND to my fearless photo assistants Melissa Hennings and Augustin Teisseire.
Two long days. Over 4500 captures. “Must feature the product!” “Product is the hero!” Very challenging low light conditions. And almost no time to shoot the stills! This was probably one of the most challenging photo shoots I’ve had in years. I was the still life photographer on set and they had budgeted zero time for me to do the shots. The video production crew was already maxed out on schedule and had little time to even cover all of their shots. Very large crews and a very large talent pool. Two days of fast shooting, get in there in between video setup and shoot away! Get what you can! I had to shoot with what ever lighting was “left behind”, zero time to adjust anything. My amazing assistant, Brandon Borges, running back and forth from camera to computer, downloading images from memory cards as I was yelling for more…! It was crazy FUN! The cowboy images shot at the country saloon, and the photos at the Indian wedding were very low light situations and my ISO setting on camera was between 16,000 and 25,000! So that you may have an idea, normal or average settings for the daylight shoot at the pool was approx 200 ISO. With the cooperation of the video crew, models, and talent, that witnessed our sweat, and the help of my Nikon D5 and Lightroom, I was able to pull it off, with what I feel were amazing results. Hope you agree.
Chefs + Pies + Camera + Fun = The PieHole Project!
For the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of shooting The PieHole Project. Over 30 local chefs and their favorite pies. A deliciously fun assignment! Yes, I tried each of the pies! And I do have a couple of favorites! ;-)
The Piehole Project raises funds for the Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship created by FestEvents Foundation, an organization dedicated to workforce sustainability and development in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Hope you enjoy the fotos!
The Year Of The Mask.
A lot of us played with masks when we were little. Our TV and comic book heroes wore masks. The Lone Ranger, Batman and Batgirl, Zorro, and countless others. Not the same masks we are wearing these days though. The masks we are being asked to wear this season are the ones bank robbers used. Now you walk into a bank and we all look like bank robbers!
In my case I wear a mask while I take pictures. It is a necessity and a duty. Enough of that for an intro.
During this Year Of The Mask we have continued to take pictures. Thank God,and science, through of the magic of electronics and digital everything, we can continue to capture and deliver images to you without you having to be there at the studio right next to us. Thanks to platforms like Zoom, and Google Hangouts, Webex, Adobe Connect, and many others, we can show you what we are doing with your product, or food, share the images immediately with you, and poof! Boom! Approved!
Unfortunately you have also witnessed your photographer, perhaps picking their noses or scratching themselves, or saying something they shouldn’t, (not I) but it has happened…. nevertheless the technology has worked its magic and allowed us to continue to work throughout the pandemic. And for this I am very grateful!
By the way, this was all possible before the pandemic, and we had already been using it to get approval of images while clients stayed in their offices working on other projects. Screen share, video conferencing, Skype, text messaging, (still my favorite), and emailing the image!
Here are some of the images that were done this Year Of The Mask at our studio while you were away, and while some of you were here, but over at the client desks, about 30 feet from our camera, where you can see what is happening on set on the studio 85 inch screen tv!
To be continued….. :-(
Indulging Cuban thoroughly enjoys capturing images of the new Bar Charles in Dallas!
Designed by Sees Design and William Baker, the space is packed with indulgent Italian influenced-pieces, including plush velvet seating, bubble lamps designed by George Nelson, and a sophisticated antique fireplace. Lots of visual fun, as owner Chas Martin calls it, a “testament to maximalism”. Enjoy the pictures here and then plan a visit soon!
Divine Pizzas! Divine Pasta! Divine place, for a relaxing meal, and great wines!
Within walking distance from the studio we have Cibo Divino! Which we order for lunch almost every week. Great pizza, pasta, and Italian specialties. And the owner Chef Daniele Puleo knows our studio well enough to always suggests the best Italian wines available. We captured these images for the new Cibo Divino Market Centro, in downtown Dallas. Check out there website here.
Dallas advertising agency, The Richards Group, commissioned Manny to photograph varying sizes of peppers to illustrate with photographs the size comparison of Sub-Zero’s new refrigerator models. Manny’s love and passion for the still life image is perfectly exemplified in these photographs.
If you are from Texas you know that the State Fair is a big deal. If you live here, it is one of those things you must experience, at least once. However, rest assured you will be suspending what ever eating regimen you might be entertaining that week. Well, maybe you can keep your keto diet with a turkey leg or two. But, you will be tempted, or maybe not. Every imaginable food, fried! Fried butter, fried Coke, fried Jello, and fried Twinkies, will beckon your attention. Oh and food on a stick! Like fried Doritos bacon mozzarella sticks, and the most famous, Corny Dogs on a stick! My arteries are tightening as I write this.
Below is an editorial we shot a few years ago for D Magazine, in collaboration with art director Todd Johnson and food stylist Brooke Leonard, giving it a fun surgical look.
Brooke was one of the great Dallas food stylists who’s passion for food and life inspired many in our industry.
In her memory.
Making it look like it was photographed in a dark romantic setting. Making it look appetizing, and desirous. Mouthwatering, and sensuous. Making them drop their plans to stay in tonight, and head out to your sexy restaurant. That is what Manny does, day in and day out, and sometimes in the dark of the night as well!
They don’t call him BatManny for nothing! ;-)
This photograph, for Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Agency of record, Swoon, The Studio. Food stylist, Stephanie Greenwood. Contact Manny’s Agent H, here.
Congratulations to William Bradley, Regina Charboneau, and Bridget Green, and thank you, for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful experience. It was an honor to collaborate with this passionate group of Natchesians.
We shot 27 home interiors, and exteriors, in 12 days, from dawn till dusk. Plus a few dozen food dishes, prepared and styled by Chef Regina Charboneau, for each home. Wore out 3 very hard working assistants, Melissa Hennings, Brielle Parker, and Elliot Kern! But we all came back with images, friendships, and memories, to last us a lifetime!
Blessed beyond all means!
Check out the images below, and if you feel compelled to help with the preservation of these historical homes in Natchez, the oldest city on the Mississippi, please purchase a book here.
Photography © MANNY RODRIGUEZ. All Rights Reserved.
I Wanna Tropicana with the Top Banana From Habana!
Shot on spec, with food stylist Taylor Gervais.
Props stylist, Scott Morris.
Asistente Excelente, Elliot Kern.
Lighting and composition by TBFH!
There use to be a time in my career as a photographer when viewing my images printed in a magazine, news paper, or brochure was, to put it mildly, very disappointing. Oftentimes I would opt for not even looking at the final printed piece. Thankfully, printing has come a long way. So much so these days, that I am impressed with the quality of printing more often than not, even when using cheap paper. Rarely does an image look like what you saw on screen, or on film, but not as disconcerting as it use to be. Some of you might disagree. Or maybe I am simply very fortunate that I get to work with some great clients, ad agencies and art directors, that know what they are doing! Case in point, this last job I shot for Chili’s, with the talented folks at Johnson and Sekin, AND the creative team at Chili’s! The latest menus were printed by a printer in Carrolton, Texas, called ColorMark. The result was nothing less than amazing! Anyone that has worked with me in the past, and I am now referring to post production and pre-press people, know that my images are not easy to print. I crunch those curves to the max! That’s my style. I make those highlights and those shadows almost impossible to print. Yes, I have heard the complaint for years. That is how I like to shoot. I want my images to remind me of the pages from Life Magazine. If you are old enough, you know what I mean. If you don’t, visit your nearest library and check out the gorgeous editorials! Deep blacks and blown out whites! Love it! (The why, is a subject for another day, another post) Anyway, what I really want to share with you is the Chili’s menus below, printed by ColorMark, who somehow, kept all my extreme contrast and lighting the way I like it! The iPhone pictures below were not high quality, obviously, so if you really want to see the real thing, head over to your nearest Chili’s restaurant and check out the new menus!
Thanks to the fearless team at Chili’s corporate and Johnson + Sekin for trusting in me with their photographic needs. Of course, none of this would look half as good without the food styling talent at FoodStylists.com.
Contact Agent H, if you want to stop by the studio and view some prints over a cup or two of coffee!
….if you want it cheap, you are on the wrong website!
Exceptional photography for promoting food, done right by a well seasoned photographer. Experienced, knowledgable, with a passion for getting the shot done right, the first time, every time. If you are a creative in the advertising agency world, with demanding clients that can’t afford risks, then you are on the right page. If you are a marketing director in the corporate food industry, this is the photographer you deserve! For scheduling and rates, reach out to Agent H, right here.
Manny only hires the best of the best. In this case: Claire Wilson, food stylist; Kristen Dale Butler, for prop styling and production; Asistente Excelente, Elliot Kern.
Like we needed yet another reason to fly American Airlines!
I feel very fortunate to have been the official photographer for this new partnership between American Airlines and Zoe’s Kitchen! The results speak deliciously loud! And AA customers are loving it! Much thanks to our American Airlines team for allowing this opportunity to collaborate with them on this project! Also, great appreciation for our talented art director, Autumn Musso. Food stylists, Claire Wilson Meserall, and Amber North. Production and styling, Kristen Butler. My left AND right hand, Elliot Kern. And Heather Williams for bringing us all together!
Fogo de Chão knows their meat! Gaucho chefs expertly grill and carve table-side each of their cuts of meat like Picanha, Filet Mignon, Ribeye, Fraldinha, Cordeiro, and more. The place is a temple to the churrasco!
If you haven’t been there lately, or ever, you are definitely missing out on a great experience. Luckily for my crew and I, we get to sample it all when we shoot there. Thank you, Jack, Kyle, Steve, Whitney, and Janet, for trusting us with your photographic needs! Much thanks to our talented team, food stylists, Claire Messerall and Amber North, my Asistentes Excelente, Elliot Kern and Melissa Hennings. And last but not least our fearless creative director Greg Ring!
Hopefully our pictures will entice you to visit one of their locations in the USA, Mexico, Middle East, and Brazil!
So much fun shooting Chefs For Farmers with these guys! I am one fortunate photographer! These Chefs were silly and having a blast! I don’t know if it was the pizza or the wine, both items came from Cibo Divino Marketplace just a couple of blocks from the studio!
Over three decades of taking pictures! Hundreds of portraits, dozens of chefs, also a few dozen wild children going crazy all over the studio, and never have I been treated like this! Never has anyone, other than a wife or two, thrown anything at me! I mean, I consider my self a pretty good photographer, and yes, I have occasionally taken a poor picture here and there, maybe some out of focus even, but never has any person, client, art director, ever, treated me like this! Till now. I guess there is always a first for everything! But darn, this was humiliating! This clown, Junior Borges, thinks he’s funny! Don’t let that smile you see in the pictures fool you either. He was criticizing my lighting all afternoon! Telling me what angles to take! The gall this guy has! I was trying to be polite and not say anything, but it finally got my blood boiling, I think I yelled a few things in Spanish, I might have called him -pinch pendejo, or cabrón- I really don’t recall exactly, and that is when he started throwing tomatoes at me! Look at him!! You know he’s done this to others before by the way he can throw things with such aim and smile the entire time! (By the way, he never hit me! I managed to dodge every single tomato, as you can see in the pictures)
I still managed to get some good pictures of this junior chef guy, because I am a professional, and I had a job to finish! Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as he enjoyed throwing tomatoes at me. I’ll get back at you Borges! Wait till you open that little restaurant of yours! 😈
Another great photo session with Dallas chefs and local farmers! More fun than any photographer should be allowed to have in one session!! Thank you Iris Midler for trusting us with the CFF campaign! Kudos to all the chefs and farmers that participated: Sofia Herrera_Martinez, Andrea Shackelford, Jeff Bednar, Junior Borges, Dean Fearing, Jared Harms, Matt McCallister, and John Tesar. Nothing gets done without my dream crew, agent Heather Williams, Claire Wilson, food stylist. And last but not least, my Asistente Excelente, Elliot Kern.
Please visit Chefs For Farmers website and plan to attend this unique Dallas event that celebrates and promotes local and regional farmers, and the chefs that bring us some of the best food in the USA, right here in Dallas, Texas!