Of MiLk and Fedoras

(c)JoeMcNally_MiLk tattoo_2013

If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment and head over to my buddy Joe McNally’s blog.

His post yesterday – The Gift of Photography – is truly touching and must-read.

There’s a few things in play for me as it pertains to Joe’s post about MiLk Cruz Mendoza and her story.

First is….Holy Cow! My face is on someone’s arm!

Yeah, that’s pretty firmly etched in the “Things I Never Expected To Happen To Me In Life” column of the Krajnak Life Ledger.

I remember when Joe met MiLK a few months ago. He was teaching the workshop and, one night, either by text or email, I hear from him saying “K-Man! I just met a gal that has you tattooed on her arm! Drew (Gurain, Joe’s assistant) took some snaps…..”

A few minutes later, they came over. I was stunned.

Now, I realize MiLk doesn’t have me on her forearm per se. She has a character that reminds her of a very special person in her life.

Second, what gets me is the whole long-and-winding-serendipitious roadway that got us all to this point.

Back a few years ago, when I was getting interesting in photography, I frequented a Flickr group called Utata that would toss out weekly photo challenges. As a way to push myself to get better, I’d particpate. One week, the Utata editor, Greg Fallis, threw out a “noir” challenge. That right there sent me down a path to my most creative personal project, Jersey Noir. Of course, I continue to add to that project and every Friday you can see a new chapter in that story.

Joe saw some of those early, and now ongoing noir shots of mine, and I think it gave him an idea. One day he called me up. He was working on his The Hot Shoes Diaries book and wanted to know if I could get “in character” for him. We’d prowl around the mean streets of New York City with my fedora and Zippo and his small flash and see what we could get. A few of those images shot next the West Side Highway came out really well and Joe included them in his book. Hence, The Man With The Fedora was born.

We often talk about me getting back in front of his camera but our calendars haven’t evened up yet. Soon, perhaps…

So, from participating in that Utata photo challenge….to Joe getting the spark of an idea….to us working together on the shots (I remember saying to Joe at one point: So, gun in the shot or no? More smoking? How’s my tie?)….to MiLk, with her own photographic aspirations, reading Joe’s book…and seeing a few of his images that touched her so much got them indelibly eteched on her skin.

And one of those tattoos is of my face.


But it all goes back to MiLk, her story and how Joe conveys HIS storytelling through his images of MiLK. And back to his blog post yesterday.

For me, the more I engage myself in photography and the photographic communinity, I do see it as a gift as well. I am telling stories with my images. I often say I’m a visual raconteur. Sometimes, the images are self-evident, like Chris, posing with a portrait of his dog Roxie that I shot, and gave to him as a print. I walk into his local shop and I see that he’s hung the photo up.

(c)Chris_Roxi_JerseyStyle Photography

Then there are the images that are a story unto themselves, one that could go in any direction, but is waiting to be told, developed, thought about in our heads…


Joe McNally is one of the best at not only visual storytelling, but telling a story with words, too. His blog writings are evidence of that.

I know MiLk and I both are proud to have been captured by Joe’s camera… and to have been influended by his work.

And, in another way that illustrates how the Internet has flattened the world…MiLK and I have connected on Facebook. I saw her Friend request came in and accepted. I sent her a note and said it was great to “met” her. She replied, saying she was nervous to send me the request because she didn’t know how I’d react.

Heh…I was pleased as punch. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to meet in person and Joe can take out photo.

Now let’s go out..and tell the story.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013


5 thoughts on “Of MiLk and Fedoras

  1. How cool is that tattoo!!! By the way, I bought the book that has your photo on it and the first thing Jeff said is “when did Mark get a tattoo?” Ha!

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