Project: Christmasville, New Jersey

Sometimes, personal projects just jump out at you and take on a life of their own.

Such was the case with one that I started earlier this month, but that had its origins years ago.

Back in early December, on a dark night after I dropped my kids back off with their mom, I was noticing all the Christmas decorations in the yards around my town, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Looking at all the brightly lit “inflatable” decorations, I was thinking back to how, when I was a kid, people would put up lights outside and that was about it.

Now some homes had huge, multi-character displays that melded the traditional (i.e. a Nativity scene) with the latest iteration of the Christmas elf (i.e. Will Farrell in Elf).

What struck me, though, driving around was another project I remembered. One done by a photographer named Timothy Archibald, an award winning editorial and commercial photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area.

A few years ago, around Halloween, Timothy posted sepia-toned images in black frames to his social media platforms with the hashtag #Hellsobrante, a play on the town he lives in, El Sobrante, California.

Over on Timothy’s website, the project is called The Sun Sets Early.

It was this project that I remembered as I drove around Lawrenceville that night. And what I thought about when I started to snap photos of the various decorations in the town now called…Christmasville.

I took these over the course of the last few weeks, mostly with my Fuji XT3, though, on a walk in my neighborhood one evening, my camera phone did the heavy lifting.

To apply some consistency to them, I went B&W with them, with this rougher film-like edge to them. I also formatted them into a 1:1 square, to better fit into Instagram!

All the decorations stayed pretty uniformed. I was hoping to find some odd ones (the Elf one was probably the oddest), or those teetering or knocked over due to wind or storms – but the last few weeks here have been pretty tame, so nothing to destructive.

It was a fun project, though, something to keep me looking for photos around town as I was out and about. I think I may take time over the next few times to put a small booklet together, as a kind of Christmas 2022 remembrance.

Much thanks to Timothy for giving me the creative idea to start this project!


© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2022

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