30 Second Portraits in Jersey City

(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Katyn Memorial_Jersey City_2014_IMG_0811

For the past few days, I’ve been holed up at the Jersey City Hyatt in a work conference. I was an attendee, but they also asked me to provide photographic support for the event. Not exactly my preferred type of photography, but sometimes you have to pitch in. I also used it to my advantage…read on.

Jersey City sits right on the Hudson River, just across from Manhattan. Ferries take tourists, commuters, etc. from the Jersey side down to lower Manhattan. I don’t get to this edge of Jersey City too much, so wanted to take a quick walk while I was there. Little did I realize then that, due to conference activities, I wouldn’t leave the hotel for two days.

I arrived Sunday evening and got up early on Monday morning. Commuters were bundled against the cold and I grabbed this shot of the Katyń Memorial, just a few steps from the hotel.

There’s also quite a dramatic 9/11 Memorial not far away as well. A steel girder from the World Trade Center said draped in the American Flag and snow, with a pink rose providing contrast on the white layer.

There’s another 9/11 Memorial too, and this one always gets me. Cast by New Jersey artist J. Seward Johnson, a business man sits, his briefcase open. So many people that day kissed their husbands, wives and kids good bye, another typical day at the office. But it’s not typical when you don’t come home.

There’s also hard hats and rolled firehose to commemorate the EMTs, workers and fire fighters who lost their lives on 9/11.

(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Sitting man _clr_9064

After a few quick shots, I hustled back to the hotel as we had a full schedule. For the next two days, I did the typical conference reportage – speakers on stage, audience shots, always trying to still tell the story while battling ballroom lighting.

Still, I hustled when two opportunities presented themselves.

The first came in the evening of Day 1. Presentations were done and we were having a relaxing dinner in a ballroom that was converted with comfortable lounge chairs and such. This was the networking part of the program.

That’s when a group of blue-blazered young men came in – the evening’s entertainment. And entertaining they were!

The Tigertones are a male a capella group from Princeton University. Founded in 1946, these young guys have continued a ringing tradition since then. Check out this video I shot (not for the quality of the video, but for the beautiful singing)

Really, really good.

As they were finishing up, though, I wanted to get a group portrait of them. The room was dark, I didn’t have a flash, so I went to quickly scope out another area. Right near the elevators there was a little enclave with a bright painting inside. That was the best I was going to get as I didn’t know how much time they had.

So, I waited until the group walked out, and asked if I could do a quick portrait of them. Being amiable young men, they said sure, so I arranged them in this enclave. I only had about 30 seconds so I started to shooting. Looking too staid, I told them to give me a little energy. Got a portrait I liked.

(c)JerseyStyle Photography Tigertones_BW_022014_9433

They must have liked it too. It’s now the banner on their Facebook page.

They next day, another surprise. During the morning part of the conference, we were treated to a fantastic dance performance by a talented young man who goes by the name Fik-Shun. Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall was the So You Think You Can Dance (a dance contest TV show here in the United States) Season 10 Male winner.

Skinny as a whip, a smile a wide as the Hudson River itself, he was a pleasure to watch. Really got the crowd going when he moonwalked across the carpeted stage.

(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Fik-Shun Dance_2014_MG_9686

As he was finishing up, I knew I wanted a non-stage shot of him. Again, not know what was in his contract to appear at this conference, I thought I’d take my chances. I also knew where I’d shoot him.

I went into the lobby to wait, and while he was with his handler, I walked up and said hello. Asked if I could take a quick portrait, and before his handler had a chance to object, I brought him over to the floor-to-ceiling windows the hotel has. They also had a little ledge that runs along the bottom of it.

I jumped up on the ledge and demonstrated to him what I wanted him to do. Clock was ticking, I knew, but he jumped up, flashed that big smile and within 30 seconds I had my portrait.

(c)JerseyStyle Photography _FikShun_ 2014_9700

I knew I’d go high-key with this, blow the background out a bit. I wish he was a bit more animated, but that was lack of direction on my part. Still, I was glad to get this portrait.

So, in true photo generalist fashion, I was all over the photographic map the last few days. It was fun, and I think the conference organizers liked the images I turned over to them.

Speaking of map….me and this gal will be hitting the road soon.

(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Flo_ledge_0008

More to come…

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

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5 thoughts on “30 Second Portraits in Jersey City

  1. Mark – What a terrific Jersey post! Two of my kids live in Jersey City. I have been to their apartments a few times (they live in two different places) but I have never really explored the city itself. Your 30 second portraits are terrific. I hope you’re home now during this nor’easter. Getting pretty sick of the snow though I LOVE snow days.
    ~Mar

  2. Hello. I looked through your site. Your photographs are very beautiful. That 911 memorial part was very heart breaking. I remember that day. My apartment was being painted and I was in the house. I couldn’t go anywhere. I had my equipment ready that day, because it was such a beautiful day to take photographs. It was crisp and clear. Everything was well defined. I decided to go out the following day and headed out to the pier. I had my equipment with me, but when I got there it was too sad to take photos. People were crying and I was not going to take pictures of people crying. All I could see was a lot of smoke in the distance. They didn’t let anyone head down past 13 street. It was too smoky. I was on the west side highway pier. I had to walk from 5th avenue all the way to 12 avenue to get on the pier. It was sad not being able to see the towers there. Reality set in then. They weren’t there anymore. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work here.

  3. Mark, as usual a fantastic post! Love the narrative as to how you managed the day. No script, just going with what presents you. A mark of a true professional. Thanks for the insight!

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