Friday Noir: Present With The Lord

(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Present With The Lord2_110114_8185

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

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