30 Second Portraits in Jersey City
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More to come…
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014