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The Challenge is the Beauty: Joel Cintron’s Journey to Freelancing

If you’ve kept up with our blog, you’ll notice that the majority of our featured artists were influenced by art at a young age. Whether they stuck with this initial discipline or not, a solid trend remains: art’s impact is endless.

Joel Cintron’s story starts similarly. He’s been drawing since childhood to express creativity as well as a way to keep himself occupied. Through a combination of his mom’s insurance job, local parks and recreation, and school field trips, he was constantly being exposed to art. After being gifted a Fisher-Price kid’s camera (you know the one) at 10 years old, Cintron was inspired to emulate his grandfather who would always carry a disposable camera no matter what. After getting interested in film and photography, he started listening to music whenever he worked; a practice he continues to this day.

“Changing the narrative…that is what drives the culture.”

BLM Newington – taken at the protest at Newington Town Center (June 2020)

Cintron got more involved in the local arts scene around 2015 and saw a crop of talent that wasn’t being cultivated. He wanted to use his budding photography skills to help showcase this talent. Now 3 years into having taken photography more seriously, it’s his “bread and butter.” Cintron maintained multiple jobs for a few years while building his skills. Outside of his full-time job in the Business Office at Goodwin University (formally Goodwin College) and a part-time gig at Real Art Ways, photography gave him more opportunities to be creative. When he made the transition to full-time artistry, he felt a stronger sense of freedom and autonomy, but he also had built a strong foundation of skills and a growing network. He transferred the billing and contracting work that he had done for years at Goodwin directly into running his own business. A lot of people know his work through other local artists and curators and the Hartford Courant. One of his most recent developments as an artist was formally incorporating and buying liability insurance in order to shoot at venues with proper coverage.

“If you show the community, you show unity.”

Cintron doesn’t view photography solely as a business; it’s a way for him to surround himself with his community. Even though the 9-5 lifestyle was a good paycheck, he wasn’t impacting the people the way he wanted to. According to Cintron, transitioning to being a full-time artist gives one the skills to put oneself out there more; “it’s part of the challenge, part of the beauty.” He’s been sure to take his life experiences and transform them into something he can be proud of. For example, he’s been helping a few artists write grants and plan their events. Photography is the main source of income, but he utilizes multiple skills and creative talents to fill in the gaps in his calendar.

Semilla Café + Studio – Black & Brown-owned coffeeshop in Hartford

“The scene is like a garden. If you don’t pay attention…it’s not going to bare the fruit you want it to.” The “scene” Cintron refers to is our very own local arts scene. After spending time in cities that invest in the arts such as Paris and Amsterdam, he’s inspired to create spaces (both physical and figurative) where people can absorb music and culture in potentially life-changing ways as he experienced for himself. He also wants to help others develop their own abilities, confidence, and business skills.

POSSM, Hartford Marathon (October 2021)

We asked Cintron if he had any tips for photographers and other creatives who are wishing to start on their own and he was more than happy to provide:

Know your business plan inside and out. Have contracts drawn, know your process, and establish clear expectations from the start.

Develop a regimen of self-care. It’s important to maintain physical, mental and spiritual shape as well as a healthy diet.

Know your worth. What people pay for your work and/or service is just the tip of the iceberg. When pricing your work, keep in mind your clients are paying for your time, travel, energy, quality, editing, and so much more.

-Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager, GHAC

(All photography by Joel Cintron)

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