Friday Noir: Present With The Lord

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Till death do you part, the preacher man said.

Yeah, well, looks like that’ll come true for sure.

Ain’t bad people.

Just desperate.

And when you’re desperate, you make bad decisions.

Especially when family is involved.

You got LOVE and HOPE inked across your knuckles.

Half of that – the love – is still there anyway.

You can still hear the clink of the metal on the garage cement floor after you sawed off 13 inches of double-barreled respect.

And the way the whiskey hit the back of your throat as the echo died away.

You just needed enough cabbage to get the family by for a few more months, pay a few bills.

Didn’t expect the bar maid to pull out that ancient heater.

Or for it to fire so true.

Bad decisions.

No hope.

And now a long dark road.


I get my inspiration for my noir photos, and the accompanying stories, from a lot of different sources. Movies, of course. Music. And other pieces of writing.

A couple of months ago, when I was reading a draft of Trouble In The Heartland, trying to decide which images to submit to Joe Clifford and Zelmer Pulp, I read these lines. They come from author Ryan Sayles‘ take on Springsteen’s Highway Patrolman,(a dark, moody short story its own right)

She sits two shell casings on the top lip of the gravestone, steps back, says, “This is sort of a reverse of those husband and wife statues on a wedding cake.”

I smirk and nod. See it in Mrs. Hopkins’ eyes that she wants to take a piece of this granite cake and mash it into her husband’s face. Sort of like stuffing all those promises back down his throat.

As soon as I read this, I knew I wanted to create that visual of shell casings on a headstone. Not a terribly hard concept to execute, and yes, pretty literal to what Ryan wrote. But I loved the phrasing and thought it could go a number of different ways. Shot this image last weekend as a cold Fall rain fell.

I’ve been asked a lot recently, due to the symposiums and conventions I’ve been speaking at and showing my photos, what makes noir? How is that defined?

Well, the best definition I’ve come across recently and, one I agree with the most, is: Desperate people (mostly men) making catastrophic choices with dire consequences.

To me, that sums it all up in eight words. I see this in the movies I watch, in many of the songs I listen to, and in most, if not all, of the stories in Trouble In The Heartland. When people come to the end of their rope, they’re liable to make a wrong choice to right themselves.

Often with a bad outcome.

To watch the fantastic video of the song Highway Patrolman, featuring Viggo Mortenson and David Morse, go here.

And, as a reminder, we expect Trouble In The Heartland to be available in December so you can read Ryan’s story then!

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014

A Day At The Lake

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A couple of weekends ago, when I was home helping out after my dad’s bypass surgery, I had a free few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

It was a breezy, but warmish day, the Northeast Pennsylvania mountains were yelling with color. I pointed my truck north and decided to take a drive around Harvey’s Lake. (Apparently, it hasn’t been decided if it should be with an apostrophe S or not. I’m using it)

You may remember I took my kids up there for a few hours this past summer. I thought this would be a nice day to take a drive and see what I could see.

There was a sheet of gray clouds over the lake, but I didn’t sense rain. It was just holding over it, opening just slightly now and again to through a splash of light down on the water and trees. In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the foliage has been very vibrant this year, it seems to me. Quite grand, actually.

As I was driving around, I decided to do some exploring. An old building jutting out over the water seemed like a good place to start.

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As I walked around it, I noticed the door at the top of the wooden steps was ajar. (well, it was a door, not a jar, but you know what I mean.)

When I pushed it open, the hinges squeaked….and the two people, painting in front of easels, looked up.

Guess others had the same idea to be creative on this fine Sunday afternoon.

Not knowing if I was trespassing in THEIR building, I asked if they minded if I shot some photos.

“Oh no,” the older woman said. “Go right ahead.”

As I shot, I chatted with her. She told me they had gotten permission to paint here from the owner. In fact, the reason the door was unlocked was because people keep breaking the lock anyway.

The woman told me that the building we were in used to be a roller skating rink on the upper level, bath houses on the lower level, and part of the Hansen’s Amusement Park which was popular at Harvey’s Lake. It opened in 1891 and closed in 1984


I don’t remember ever going to Hansen’s as kid, but I did hear about it.

Anyway, turns out, the woman was Sue Hand, a local artist/celebrity who has been painting and teach in the Wyoming Valley for year. I asked if I could shoot some portraits of her while she worked, to which she agreed.

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I didn’t want to bother her too much, instead shooting some documentary images of how the old building was now. You could almost still here the clack-clack-clack of the skates, the music and the laughter.

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Sue told me this old building was going to be renovated into a house, and that would start to happen in a few weeks. I’m glad I got to document it before it was gone.

She also pointed across the road at another old structure. It too had been part of Hansen’s and was a dance hall. She said that was slated for demolition.

Since my camera seems to often precede the wrecking ball, I thought I should check it out.

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Inside and out, quite a state of disrepair. I had to step around with caution. The wind through the eaves and the quiet contributed to some pre-Halloween angst on my part.

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Soon, bulldozers, earth movers and pavers will inflict their will on this area.

Beautiful light and some free time helped me to capture some of the history that was left. All that will soon remain will be the memories written in the wind.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014

Weekend Shot: Juxaposition

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Came upon this scene coming back from the Liberty Science Center with the kids.

Once back in Upper Freehold Township, I took a road less traveled.


Now, why a big black car is parked, empty, among the Autumn splendor, I have no idea.

And, this being New Jersey, not sure I want to know….

Big black car + fall foliage + mystery = This Weekend Shot

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014

JSP Visual Week In Review | 11.01.14

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Last weekend it was summer-like.

This weekend, as we kick off November, there’s a Nor’easter banging rain down on my house with the chance of flurries later on today. November Rain indeed.

I’m back in the Great State of New Jersey, having returned on Wednesday. Dad is still in the hospital but doing well. Hopefully his road to recovery will be short and well-lit.

PhotoPlus Expo was this week in New York. I had plans to go but had to cancel them with all the other stuff going on. If you went, shoot me a note and let me know what you thought, who you saw.

Into the November breach we go…

This Week’s Links

* Happy Birthday Alex Prager

* Congrats to my buddy David Bowman. (That 25th image was from a shoot I was on with him.)

* Is this Hopper’s “Nighthawks” restaurant?

* Drew Gurian’s portrait transformed into 40 foot mural.

* Springsteen listening party. [blink and you miss me at 3:13...]

* RIP Thurston Hopkins.

* “Everything which is an effort is virtuous, is work, and is worth doing.” ~ Arthur Koestle

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014


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