The Pride of New Brunswick

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Maybe I’ve talked to Joe McNally to much about what he finds interesting to shoot. I think we all know he loves to shoot the dedicated men and women who are firefighters, especially in NYC. I gotta admit, I’m drawn to them as well.

So when I was driving home from work the other evening, taking a route I often do that takes me past the City of New Brunswick firehouse on Joyce Kilmer Ave, something – actually someone – caught my eye.

That would be Brett, who leads off this blog.

As I was sitting at stop light near the firehouse, Brett – all beefy muscle of him – was sitting on the bumper of one of the trucks. Looked like Sergent Rock. The scene was framed by my car window (Ray uses this little framing thingy, I use my car window. Yeah, his is more portable, but mine is more expensive.) Then, the light turned green annnnnndddd….I drove away.

For about three blocks. Stuck in my head. I wanted to make some images with that guy sitting on the bumper. If nothing else, I’d get #48 in my quest for portraits of 100 Strangers.

So, turn left, turn right, turn right, turn right and I’m back on Joyce Kilmer Ave, swinging a parking spot on the street and jumping out, about three blocks from the firehouse.

[This is where it gets slightly interesting. New Brunswick is a small-sized city with good and bad areas. This isn’t a bad area, but I’m not exactly the normal element. And as I’m walking down the street, a guy walking what looks to be a pit bull is coming towards me. He’s a good 25 feet away…and then another pit bounds off a porch and the two pups, well…let’s just say they weren’t whispering sweet nothings at each other. I quickly cross to the other side of the street…]

Anyway, I get to the firehouse expecting my main subject to be gone. But Brett, as I find out, is still sitting there. I introduce myself and give him one of my JSP business cards (get business cards and use them. They open so many doors.) I explain to him, how I was passing by, how I like to shoot New Brunswick, and could I shoot him, as is.

As you can see from that opening shot, he was a bit wary, but said yes. No smile, kinda tight. Now, if I have any skills behind the camera, it’s that I can often break someone down, get to know them pretty quickly and have them loosen up a bit for me, especially on the fly like this. He started to warm up in just a few minutes.

That’s the shot that I’m counting as my Stranger Portrait #48.

Brett also introduced me to Alex. Nice guy, a little shy. But he became #49.

Image is a little soft, would have liked more crispness for sure.

I worke another shot of Alex on the bumper with the clouds reflected in the big windows of the truck, but just in looking at the files, it just didn’t come together like I had hoped.

This is my favorite of Brett, though. Easy going, warm. Projects strength. I’d want him on the job if my place was burning.


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For this portrait of the two of them, I did a bit of a gritty post process on it using the Nik Color Efex Pro Color Contrast Range filter.

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My EXIF data shows that I spent about two minutes shooting about 20 frames with Brett and Alex. Happy I came away with a couple I like, but also happy that I went back to get the shots. You never get back the ones you leave on the table.

For all of his high-and-tight haircut and muscle, Brett was a really nice guy. Glad I stopped to get to know him. He even asked if I could email him an image or two, which I absolutely will. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to shoot more of Engine Company #1, Ladder Company #1 and Rescue #3 in New Brunswick.

Number 50 awaits….

© Mark V. Krajnak 2010 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved
Unless otherwise noted, images captured with a Canon 50D, SanDisk digital film, finished with PS2 or PSE6 and Nik Softwar
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8 thoughts on “The Pride of New Brunswick

  1. Awesome images. Glad you turned around and went back. So often we don’t. I like 5494 and 5498 the best of Brett. Hey, who knows maybe you’ll get another chance to shoot them again, catch them in another environment and have more fun. Cuz, that’s what it’s all about. Again, well done Mark!

  2. Excellent work and I so agree with the shot left behind…. it is so easy to back up once you get by the mental anguish. I like the first shot the best … the tone work is the best balanced… thanks Mark!

  3. Pingback: JSP Visual Week In Review ~ 06.10.17 | JerseyStyle Photography

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