Fernando Grullon didn’t set out to become a photographer. He describes it as something that came as more of an accident; an accident that led to one of his life's greatest passions.
While in school he studied Music Production and worked on creating songs for his friends. One year he found himself needing some inspiration for a different creative outlet and turned to The Underground Charisma YouTube music channel that he knew could always get him in the right mindset. Instead of listening to the sounds this time, though, he was focused on the lifestyle images that were used as the backdrop for the music. He thought, “Man, I would like to take pictures like that.” In 2017, he went out and got himself a Canon 80D and, so began his photography journey.
Once his family caught wind of his new camera purchase, they instantly considered him a professional and recruited him for his first photography gig: his younger sister’s wedding. Was he a natural? Not according to him. When he first picked up the camera he didn’t know any of the rules of settings or composition. Grullon, 36, says “When I got home it was a disaster of overexposed and underexposed images. Horrible!” So, he employed a couple of models (aka his two young daughters) and began the process of perfecting his art.
It was around this same time that Fer, as he is referred to by close friends, started to run. He found out about Boogie Down Bronx Runners on Instagram and attended one of their community runs on a Tuesday night. He remembers being unable to run even a mile and not knowing anyone there. But, as most people who run with Boogie Down do, he soon became part of the family and his running improved significantly, even going as far as conquering the NYC Marathon this past year.
But that’s not the only thing that caught the eye of Boogie Down’s founder, Lenin Grullon. In 2018, Lenny, as he is known, organized a Walk/Run to commemorate the late Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz after he was fatally attacked outside of a bodega in the Bronx. Knowing that this would be one of the most impactful events to date for the crew and after noticing Fer’s talent for capturing amazing photos, he asked him to document the charity run.
Fer saw it as an opportunity to practice photographing people besides his daughters and to be able to capture their strength and power through running. It was also a new challenge for Fer as capturing moving subjects was entirely different from the portraits he was accustomed to, so he saw it as a fun way to learn. “It was a bonus that the runners loved the photos and wanted to share my work,” he says.
The experience was a turning point; he gained a newfound confidence and realized he was really good at this. He started taking his camera everywhere and looking at the world around him through new eyes. Fer, who describes his photography style as fun, has a diverse portfolio ranging from pictures of his family, to sports photography, to candid shots of everyday life in New York. Most recently, he has been focusing on capturing cityscapes on film.
For inspiration, he looks at photo books and creates a playlist as varied as his photographs, including beats by Bad Bunny, Jay Z and John Mayer. Most days when he is shooting, he just sets a starting point and tells himself, “I just need to get five good shots today,” and lets the city lead him.
As a self-taught photographer, Fer’s goal is to be able to get his own space and focus on photography full-time. He is constantly adding new angles to his images. “The more you shoot, the more you learn,” he says. He has done an amazing job at setting himself apart by showcasing the amount of versatility in his photos and his ability to capture different groups in their own unique ways. This year, his new venture will be cycling more so that he can capture the world while moving on two wheels.
Although it was his running photos that got most people to notice him, Fer is most proud of a photo he took of his girls on the beach; they remain his constant inspiration. And even though he considers his journey into photography an accident, he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t taken the leap and bought that first camera. His biggest piece of advice for others wanting to get into photography and not knowing where to start is to “just jump right in; don’t hesitate.”