Summer In America: A Patriotic Series By Photographer Manny Mares

Summer In America: A Patriotic Series By Photographer Manny Mares

Hey everyone, my name is Anthony and I am new here to Fstoppers. I really got into photography by documenting hardcore shows (as in hardcore punk rock). I first encountered Manny Mares on a message board for this genre of music. During this summer I have watched Manny continuously post images from a series he has been working on called "Summer in America." 

I really think that whether you are a full time professional, or working to get there, that the best thing you can do for yourself is to shoot personal work. It helps get the creative juices flowing and helps you to learn new tricks and techniques for your clients, as well as helps to build your portfolio out in a direction you want it to go in. So I emailed Manny and asked him if he would be interested in answering some questions about this recent series of personal work for the readers of Fstoppers, and he obliged.

Fstoppers: What was the motivation for this series?
Manny Mares: Man this is a tough one. Where do i even begin? I would say over the past few years I have always seen numerous people try the 365 day project (which is a little crazy to me). I really wanted to give that project a try but then the idea of just doing a small series seemed more possible. I was at a point where I was trying to take things a little more serious and I honestly think this series helped me a lot. The motivation was to get better and I think the spirit of a summer in America really made it that much easier to be creative.

Fstoppers: Why did you choose the American theme?
Manny Mares: I actually started doing photos of everything just red haha. I know it's crazy but red is my favorite color and I wanted to just shoot a lot of people wearing red. I found some friends of mine and actually shot a few photos of that haha. They aren't actually included in the series but that's how it started. After a concert in Phoenix I was actually driving to this pizza spot Hungry Howies when a friend of mine named Tevita suggested it. This was a little bit right before summer so it made sense and since 4th of July was just the next month I wanted to get all crazy American. Plus it was easy to find props for real cheap haha. What I loved about this series is that everyone and their mother owns something American. I literally had people finding coffee mugs, underwear, glasses, lollipops, old budweiser hats, and anything else you could think of. Made it real fun and easy.
Fstoppers: How was it finding the talent for the series?
Manny Mares: To be honest this was actually really easy. I started doing more portrait work over the past year so I had a lot of friends who were really into helping me out. I shot a lot of close friends, some friends of friends, and even worked with a few models that are represented by agencies (Ford  & Agency AZ). It was just a real cool experience to meet a lot of new people. I believe I had 36 formal photo shoots for this plus a lot of random ones that just happened spontaneous. This is also from June till now so I basically had days where I would shoot for 8 days straight plus work a full time job on top of that. I'm sad though because there's still a lot of people that are interested but unfortunately I'll be done next week.
Fstoppers: Did you work with anyone else on it (hair, makeup, stylist)?
Manny Mares: Yes! Kylientes ( and Kevynn Brewer are the main two who helped me. I typically never have anyone help me tho. I just don't think I know many people who are into that kinda work or I just prefer to work alone sometimes. A lot of times I'll call my friend Justin Beson who helps me out then I have Leo Galaz who lends me his white wall to do more of the simple shots. Trust me one day I would love to have a whole crew helping me out but for now it's just me and the model. I would say 90% of them was just me by myself.
Fstoppers: What is your goal to do with the series once you complete it?
Manny Mares: Well the series is over next week. The 31st is the last day I'll be scheduling any more shoots for it then the following week is just shooting the last few people who are scheduled already. My personal goal to shoot more than 25 people was fulfilled so i'm very happy with that. A great friend of mine Steve Belmont is putting out the series in print version. We'll be doing a small run of photozines which will be full color. I believe 10 or so will have 1 of a kind polaroids in there plus some other goodies that I'm trying to come up with. Joaquin Chavez is handling the design department then we'll be ready to send it out to print. I'm very very happy with how this turned out.
Fstoppers: What's next once this is done?
Manny Mares: I have a week left to do finishing touches then I want to take maybe a week to recoup. Right after that I'll be jumping straight into my new series which is focusing mostly in all white clothing plus also all black clothing. I want to go all out and travel a bit since the America one was just mostly around the Phoenix area. Hoping to hit up California and work a bit with people that I know there.

I'm also working on another project with a band that i photograph a lot. I recently traveled out to Philadelphia to work with Title Fight on the new album, so I want to publish that. It's a lot of behind the scene photos that I want everyone to see.

Just really hoping i can stay busy this year. I loved this series and really helped me grow as a photographer. The plan is just to stay busy forever haha.

For more of Manny Mare's work go to his website:
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Bee nine

Tony, my dude, awesome job. Awesome of you featuring another B9er as the center for your piece, too! 

RUSS's picture

second photo , of the person in glasses, is nice. Other than that, after viewing the photos, I want to ask what kind of point and shoot/camera phone does he use?

I've never really understood how this style of portraiture has gained such a following and appreciation by so many photographers and photo critics. Skinny models, seductive clothing, up against a white wall with the camera on auto and pop up flash. I just don't get it.

Half of these looks really out of focus to my eye.

Fstoppers: How was it finding the talent for the series?

I think he should have looked for a photographer first...

Admittedly, a number of these photos are soft and that's something I initially noticed when I saw these photos on the message board that the writer, myself, and the photog post on. However, Manny is a master with film. Digital is a whole new world to him, and while his images are soft here, his comp and other elements are great. Maybe you shouldn't talk shit without doing a little bit of research. Both the writer and the subject are pretty exceptional at what they do in the world of photography.

I would have liked to see more of Manny's work that really shows his abilities, i.e., his film stuff. But, I do love his concept here with the series. Just not a fan of the "softness".

Also, for the guy griping about not getting how "this style of portraiture has gained such a following and appreciation by so many photographers and photo critics. Skinny models, seductive
clothing, up against a white wall with the camera on auto and pop up flash" it's the artist's preference. Sure, you're entitled to your opinion, but everything is subjective. It's not about what you like. It's about what the photographer and the subjects like. Manny does a TON of work for a multitude of people. They obviously come to him for a reason. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with his style. Just a guess...