He’s just 18 years old and he’s already been a professional photographer for four years.
Joshua Manilla now splits his time photographing his peers in Bend and social media influencers in Los Angeles.
“When I was a freshman, I got a girl asking me to do her senior photos, and I was kind of like, Whoa, that’s kind of crazy,” Joshua says. “And so I did my friend’s senior photos. And I guess from there, I just kind of spiraled. I started setting prices, started doing photoshoots for people. People started seeing my stuff all over Instagram.”
But the photography spark was lit much earlier.
“When I was in fourth grade, I got an iPad Mini from for Christmas and it was my first real electronic that had a camera on it and I just instantly fell in love with taking photos.”
From an iPad Mini, to a point-and-shoot digital camera, to a Polaroid and on and on. The camera bag grew, and Joshua’s passion grew right along with it.
Fast forward to today and business is booming for the 18-year-old who just graduated from high school.
“Today, I am a senior photographer in Bend, so I do pretty much senior photos every single night. Last year I was doing them every single day for all of my friends. This year, pretty much same thing.”
And it’s not just Central Oregon calling for sessions. Los Angeles and social media influencers has opened their arms and is asking Joshua to take their photos, too.
“I love going to L.A. and I feel so creative when I’m down there because being around people who are creative makes me creative, too.”
It all started with an influencer liking a photo Joshua had posted on Instagram. They then reached out to see if Joshua would be up for shooting photos for them.
“This is crazy. I’m shooting with you in Los Angeles, and I just thought it was the most surreal moment because it was kind of like my dream is starting to become true.”
All of sudden, the doors started opening. Next thing you know, Joshua was flying to L.A. every other weekend to shoot.
“I am shooting for influencers, creators, people with anywhere from 5,000 followers to over a million, and they’re all verified on Instagram.”
For friend and model Andie Taylor, who has done multiple shoots over the years with Joshua, there’s a comfort level working with a peer that makes the experience more enjoyable.
“To have it be someone younger and someone I can relate to more and someone who knows more what I feel like younger people are wanting from their photos. So I feel like he’s able to offer something that someone who’s older maybe wouldn’t understand as much,” Andie says.
“I think my age has really helped my success because when when I do a senior photo shoot, the model doesn’t really feel awkward because I’m their age to pretty much,” Joshua adds. “And so we can relate a lot versus someone who’s 20, 30 years older.”
Joshua plans to attend the University of Oregon this fall as a freshman, but ultimately plans to make the move to Los Angeles and pursue photography full-time in the near future.