I’m an American documentary and travel photographer based in Cebu, Philippines. Born with an insatiable curiosity about the world, I’m passionate about documenting issues related to the human condition, culture, and humanity’s interactions with the natural world. My strongest abilities are listening, connecting, and collaborating with people from different backgrounds while my style and approach is simple, authentic and has a strong focus on visual story telling.
I have worked closely with corporations, humanitarian organizations, publishers and advertising agencies and my photos have appeared on everything from television commercials and billboards to magazine and book covers. Much of my documentary work is represented by Getty Images and my cultural images have made it into the private collections of photo lovers.
My journeys have taken me to the most remote corners of the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, drifting for more than 250 days aboard small fishing vessels. I’ve seen unspeakable human devastation and suffering after natural disasters and consoled with survivors. I’ve spent days hiking through tropical forests and trail-less mountains to meet fascinating people in remote villages. I taught photography to students as a Peace Corps volunteer on the island of Palawan, hiked with communist rebels, and held a brief conversation with the President of the United States. Most importantly, I’m the husband of a beautiful wife and the father of two amazing kids.
If you would like to know more or discuss your upcoming projects with me please do get in touch here.
Clients: Chrysler, World Food Programme, UNESCO, World Wildlife Fund, Philippine Department of Tourism, Sealed Air Corporation, Stars Foundation, Leo Burnett, Fluor Corporation, Save the Children, NRS International, Caritas Austria, World Animal Protection, Ink Global, MyShelter Foundation, Baptist World Aid Australia, SKF, Art Post Asia
Publications: National Geographic Traveler, Discovery Channel Magazine, Geographical Magazine (UK), Lonely Planet, History Asia, Travel + Leisure, GEO, Newsweek, BBC Travel, Condé Nast, Asian Geographic, Atlantic Lottery, Viking Press, The Lancet, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, VIA Magazine, Expedia, The Guardian, Asian Journal, Get Lost Magazine, Smile Magazine, Mabuhay Magazine
• Special Mention, Travel Photographer of the Year 2016 • Photocrati Fund, Second Place Finalist, 2014-2015, Katutubong Filipino Project • The Forgotten Ten, Solo Exhibition, Manila, Philippines 2014 • Shortlisted for the 2013 APA / Lucie Foundation Scholarship • Grand-prize winner of PhotoShelter’s Jumpstart Your Photography Business Contest, 2013 • Shortlisted Travel Photographer of the Year 2012 • Successful Kickstarter campaign for Katutubong Filipino Project, February 2012 • B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Interdisciplinary Study in Conservation Biology (Magna Cum Laude), Colorado State University, USA 1998-2002
“Jacob is a pleasure to work with and produced terrific photos and a video of our disaster response in Masbate, Philippines. I recommend him to anyone looking for high-quality work and professionalism. Thank you again Jacob!”
Scott Cantin Disaster Communications Manager, Asia Pacific at World Animal Protection
“You’ve once again opened my mind with your captivating stories and powerful images and continue to inspire and help me understand more about the country we are living in.”
Ernest Mak Group Creative Director, Leo Burnett
“Jacob has been able to create a series of images of our solar products that defined and shaped the visual brand language of Flexiway Solar Solutions. He thoroughly understood the cultural and humanitarian impact of our solar products and was able to capture these in a real-life scenario. He proved to be flexible, professional, hardworking and a very kind person to work with.”
“I am forever indebted to Jacob for offering his advice and support to me for nearly a year, while I prepared and conducted my fieldwork for my masters. Without his expertise, guidance and in country knowledge, it would have been extremely difficult for me to complete my visual ethnography.”
Kathryn Thompson Royal Roads University in British Columbia, Canada
“Jacob worked with us to produce images and a number of short videos for our key projects within the Philippines. His professionalism really came through and he thoroughly understood the sensitive nature of our work in the way he interacted with our beneficiaries. Jacob is a kind and fun person to work with and his output exceeded our expectations.”
Project Katutubong Pilipino– An initiative together with my wife to create compelling and comprehensive photo documentaries about the many indigenous groups still present throughout the Philippine Archipelago.
Blue Earth Alliance – Supports visual storytelling on critical environmental and social issues through direct assistance to photographers and a collaborative community of professionals.
Getty Images – The largest digital media company offering creative stock imagery to advertisers, publishers, brands, and other media producers.
Jim Cline Photo Tours – Small group photo tours designed to get participants into unique, engaging locations at the optimum times for photography.
Intrepid Exposures – A passion project of a few like-minded travel photographers who thought to harness their love of travel and photography to redefine traditional photography tours to give them a greater sense of adventure and authenticity.
Do you sell prints of your work? Yup. All of the images found on this website are available as custom high quality prints. Please contact me for more information including available sizes and cost.
What gear do you frequently use to take your photos? I currently shoot with a Nikon D810 using a variety of lenses, including a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8, Nikon 20mm f1.8, Nikon 16-35mm f4 VR, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR and a Nikon 50mm f1.4. You will also find a Nikon Speedlight in my bag with two PocketWizard transceivers for off camera flash work. I use an AquaTech camera housing for underwater and a DJI Phantom for aerial work. I rely heavily on Think Tank Photo backpacks to protect my gear while in the field. For post-processing the majority of my edits are done in Adobe Lightroom with occasional touch-ups in Photoshop. I also use PhotoShelter for my online image storage & photo galleries and find this service to be an essential part of my workflow.
When did you start photographing? I got my first camera when I was a college student back in 2000. I was in my third year of school and decided to take a semester off to explore the world some. After saving enough money, I was off to Latin America by myself to see something new. Before leaving I knew I wanted to document my trip somehow and photography seemed like the best medium. I purchased a Canon EOS 5 and about 20 rolls of Fuji Velvia slide film. This was the start of my interest and obsession in the craft. Before I graduated college in 2002 I managed to take three more extended trips abroad with photography becoming more and more of the reason for wanting to travel. In 2007, I became much more serious with the craft.
Can you help me with finding contacts and tell me how to get to some of the tribal areas you visit? I can certainly try to be of help regarding generalities, but I cannot share my specific contacts or even specific locations. Many of the areas I have gained access to require special permission to enter and were granted to me because of the Katutubong Filipino Project I am working on. There are other areas that don’t require special permission, but it took a lot of time and effort to build trusting relationships with these people and I wouldn’t want to compromise that in anyway.
I’m a student working on a school project and would like to interview you about your photography? I’m extremely honored that you are thinking about me, thank you. However, I have been getting a lot of these requests lately and it’s difficult to keep up with them as they take a lot of time to answer.
How do you support a family doing this work both financially and with all of the traveling? This is certainly one of the bigger challenges in this profession, but I can only speak for myself as everyone’s situation will be different. My wife and I have chosen a lifestyle that makes being a photographer work, for the most part, both financially and with two young children. We live in a location where we can keep our expenses down and we have the support of family to help with our children when we need to travel. Financially, my photography income comes from stock sales, assignments, workshops and publications. We live comfortably, but nothing lavish. I think it’s important to know that it takes an extremely motivated and hard working attitude to sustain in this profession and often a lot of sacrifices must be made. I had to work other jobs which took me away from my family for months at a time when I was just starting out.
Can I use one of your photos to place on my blog or website? All of my photos require a license even for use on a blog or website. I may make certain exceptions depending on the circumstances and content of the site. Many of my images can be licensed directly through Getty.