Event: 2018 NJ Hall of Fame Inductions

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New Jersey is a pretty swell place for top-notch celebrities, sports stars, creatives, and successful business people.

This is never more evident than if you go to a New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which I had the chance to do this past weekend.

Held in Convention Hall in Asbury Park (for the final time – more on that later) this was an event I’ve been hoping to shoot for the past few years. This year, because Southside Johnny Lyon would be inducted,  and because of the natural fit with Backstreets.com, I was able to get credentials to cover the event for Backstreets.

For most of Sunday here in NJ, it poured down rain. But as I headed down to Asbury Park, the rain downshifted to a slow spittle and then stopped entirely by the time I parked on Grand Ave and made the few block walk to Convention Hall, under leaden skies.

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I arrived just before 4 and quickly picked up my credentials. The red carpet wasn’t supposed to start for another hour and 15 minutes, so I had time to kill. Decided too go out onto the boardwalk and take in the sea air.

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Actor Jason Alexander had the same idea. Snapped a quick photo of him getting his picture taken on the AP Boardwalk.


The event was a grand affair – and long. Red carpet started at 5:15 and I didn’t get back to my truck until nearly 11:30 p.m. But it was interesting and I got the shots I needed to get. Here’s a good overall recap of the evening.

And here’s some of my favorite photos from the evening.

Above The Red Carpet

High Above The Red Carpet in Convention Hall

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New Jersey’s own moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin, an inductee.

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Actor Jason Alexander and his wife on the red carpet

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The E Street Band’s Garry W. Tallent

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Author (Game of Thrones) George R. R. Martins

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Singer Michael Bolton (left) and celebrity photographer Timothy White

There were a few more honorees to walk the red carpet but these were a few of my favorites.

From the RC, we, the working press, then moved to our assigned section – the second floor balcony Loge section – left or right side, no middle please.

And there I pretty much stayed for the next three hours. In covering this for Backstreets, my two main focuses were on Southside Johnny’s induction and the induction of the NJ-based band The Smithereens.

Southside’s induction was up first and he was inducted by his close friend, Jon Bon Jovi, who said “Without Southside Johnny, there never would have been a Jon Bon Jovi.” (Jon himself was inducted into the NJ HOF in 2009)


Southside Johnny and Jon hug it out

The word going around was that SSJ was uncomfortable with this award, and didn’t even want to really be there. And wouldn’t perform. He didn’t even walk the red carpet, but then again, not everyone did – Martha Stewart, another inductee, was noticeably absent.


Southside Johnny Lyon

But, after his remarks, he did stay on stage to perform his classic I Don’t Want To Go Home with Jon backing him up.




The other big musical name to be inducted was The Smithereens. While they never hit the absolute huge international scale that Bruce Springsteen did, they are every bit a New Jersey band. They had a strong following at the NJ HOF event, and also performed a few songs both right after their induction and then to close the evening. (Their lead singer, Pat DiNinzio, passed away in 2017 so now Marshall Crenshaw and Rob Wilson of the Gin Blossoms do lead-singer duties. Both were on hand to help out. (In the photo of the band above, that’s Pat’s daughter, Liza, there in his place.)


The Stone Pony marquee after Pat’s death in 2017


The Smithereens with Robin Wilson out front and Marshall Crenshaw with the blue guitar

Overall, it was an interesting event to cover and get some experience. This was my second “red carpet”, after having shot the Blinded By The Light premier back in August.

Shooting red carpets is interesting because of who gets in front of your lens – still can’t believe I shot Buzz Aldrin – and having to conform to the rules as put forth. My advice, after just two of these, is get to there as early as possible and get to your spot as soon as possible. Even though I had gotten there right at 4, and picked up my credentials, and while its cool I got that shot of Jason Alexander on the boardwalk, a couple of other photographers grabbed the very front spot against the red carpet ropes. I was just behind them (one a short photographer, one a tall one) and had to shoot between them. Wish I had the gotten the front spot.

All in all, I was happy to be involved with this event, the last time it’ll be in Asbury Park. Next year it moves to the American Dream Mall. So, a swan song of sorts.

Still, shot some interesting people and learned some new tips and tricks. All gets filed away.

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The closing jam – no Southside

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2019

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