Here’s the second half of our interview with Philadelphia based photographer Jared Gruenwald.
Living and working in the often photographed, historical city of Philadelphia provides Jared with some great opportunities for work, and he agreed to share some more of his story with us this week.
PortraitPro: Philadelphia is a beautiful and vibrant city in which to live; does the city inspire your street art work?
Jared Gruenwald: Philadelphia is such an incredibly underrated, forgotten yet vibrant city, full of so much life that it can inspire anyone. I love living here. I truly feel it’s a city where you can make your dreams a reality. It sounds corny and clichéd but I’m doing it right now and so are handfuls of other creative, ambitious people I meet everyday.
One aspect that I feel really lends itself to street photography is the landscape and geography. Philadelphia’s smaller physical stature creates neighborhoods and communities that are insular yet remain close to the cutting edge. Witnessing this disparity is kind of mind blowing and beautiful and makes it hard to put the camera down.
PortraitPro: Is Philadelphia a good location to be based in which to get new work?
Jared Gruenwald: Well this is complicated. While New York is a city full of small fish in a big pond, Philadelphia is full of big fish in a small pond. There are so many talented photographers here but not as many jobs. You have to be willing to travel. Mobility I think is key here. The other side of it though is cost of living expenses are much cheaper here than New York, which is only 90 miles away so you can work in NYC and commute which can prove to be quite fruitful.
PortraitPro: Do you consider yourself to be successful? If so what do you think is the reason for your success?
Jared Gruenwald: Sure. I’m not rolling in money nor am I a household name but I’m still carving out my niche and continue to develop and improve as a photographer. To me this defines success. As long as I’m not stagnant and continue to grow creatively then I feel successful.
PortraitPro: How do you market yourself? What strategies work best for you in obtaining paid work?
Jared Gruenwald: The Internet is an unforgiving void. Obviously I maintain a current website and blog and I use digital marketing tools but I honestly feel I get most of my paid work through first person encounters. It’s much easier to write a potential client or employee off when you don’t actually have the opportunity to meet them in person. A valuable tool I find is setting up personal meetings. Nothing beats being able to shake someone’s hand, look into someone’s eyes, hear someone’s voice, feel their passion. You don’t get that digitally.
PortraitPro: How much of your time is spent in photo editing?
Jared Gruenwald: It depends upon my subject matter. I probably spend most of my time editing portraits. When I’m producing a portrait I’m trying to control every aspect of the shot and take more a creative license with the editing process. I’ll often edit more than one version of each photo, which can be very time consuming. When I’m working on a documentary project my editing becomes much less technical.
PortraitPro: How useful do you find PortraitPro in your work?
Jared Gruenwald: With my background in documentary/sports/street work I never put too much stock in all the crazy Photoshop skills some photographers incorporate into their work. It’s incredible but not really my style. I generally stick with the standard ethical journalistic editing methods when it comes to Photoshop which dictate not using any tools you wouldn’t find standing in front of an enlarger in a darkroom. That being said, some commercial portrait photography jobs I get require a bit more. PortraitProfessional has proven to be an invaluable tool in helping me realize the perfect final image. It’s such a great tool and is an incredibly helpful addition to any portrait photographer’s workflow.
PortraitPro: How do you balance doing work that pays with doing work that inspires and excites you?
Jared Gruenwald: Well as long as it’s photography and I’m not serving up fast food, I’m inspired and excited. Just because the work may not be as large scale as Wimbledon or as interesting as people living off the grid in a small tent city down by a river that doesn’t mean the clients expectations are any lesser. I treat every job, whether it’s self-assigned or I was hired the same. I’m just happy and thankful that I get to do what I love.
PortraitPro: Where can we see more of your work?