With much of the world reeling from the spread of COVID-19, the anxiety, panic, and isolation has been creeping upon us. Of course, we want to check up on our friends and family and see how they’re doing. For Philadelphia-based commercial photographer and owner of Left Eyed Studios Jared Gruenwald, it’s also an opportunity to document his rounds and show how his side of the world is holding up. With this, he began a photo project titled Through the Lockdown Glass.
“No one I know has ever experienced what the world is dealing with right now. Being on lockdown is foreign to most of us and I think everyone is curious how others are dealing with and are missing interacting with others.”– Jared Gruenwald
Apart from sharing a handful of snaps, he also took the time to share his insights on photography and the project.
Why did you get into photography?
I love to create but have always been stifled by a blank canvas. Photography gave me a tool to create using the world in front of me and allows me to interpret it as I see fit.
Which photographers are your biggest influences?
Dave Moser, Eric Mencher, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander.
How long have you been shooting?
20 years. I got started in high school. We had a great photo program.
Why are photography and shooting so important to you?
Pretty much the same answer as why I got into photography. I love to create but have always been stifled by a blank canvas. Photography gave me a tool to create using the world in front of me and allows me to interpret it as I see fit.
Do you feel you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?
Both. I document what I see but create my own narrative based on what information I give and what information I withhold.
What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your mental and mechanical processes both.
Depends on what the project is. If I’m shooting portraits, I generally go into it as an interviewer/therapist. I spend a good chunk of time getting to know my clients to make sure they’re 100% comfortable with me and with themselves in whatever space we’re working in.
Want to walk us through your processing techniques?
I generally don’t take a very heavy-handed approach. I shoot RAW and generally only apply some color correcting and color grading but not too much else. My background is in photojournalism and the ethics of editing still play a pretty strong role in my process.
Tell us about the project you’re pitching, or your portfolio.
As a portrait photographer, my business has pretty much stalled, as has my social life. Being locked down due to COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us in pretty much every way imaginable. This whole crazy situation has really made me appreciate how important routine casual interactions are and how foreign isolation is, especially from those you see often. So I decided I would drive around the city and pop in casually on my friends to say hi (while practicing social distancing, of course). When I arrived, I would text or call to come to the window or door, and when they did, I snapped a few portraits. Some I gave fair warning to, others not so much. There wasn’t much conversation as it’s hard to talk through thick panes of glass but just seeing familiar faces in person and shooting portraits was enough to keep me sane for just a little bit longer.
No one I know has ever experienced what the world is dealing with right now. Being on lockdown is foreign to most of us and I think everyone is curious how others are dealing with and are missing interacting with others.
What made you want to get into your genre?
People have always been the driving force behind my photography. I’m attracted to personalities. I like to use my photography to build a visual narrative about each person I shoot.
Tell us a bit about the gear you use and how it helps you achieve your creative vision.
I’m a Canon shooter. When I worked for newspapers and focused more heavily on documentary work, I loved shooting with a wide-angle zoom lens. this forced me to get closer to my subjects. I didn’t interfere and remained objective but loved getting close. No as a portrait photographer I rely primarily on mid-range zooms and primes as well as studio strobes. Learning to control and manipulate light has been lots of fun.
What motivates you to shoot?
Showing others the world from my perspective.
All photos by Jared Gruenwald. Used with permission.