Awhile ago, I used to run these features called Sunday Focus. I liked highlighting other photographers I know and like, but I got a little lazy and stopped pursuing them. Maybe I’ll try to do more.
Anyway, here’s one…sort of. I was recently interviewed by my job for our internal website called SQUARE. They like to highlight the interesting things our employees do in their off time – their passions, basically. Because of my photography, they interviewed me. (Actually, I guess I’ve been in it twice. They interviewed a guy who keeps bees on our company property – workplace is fine with that – and they used my photos in the story)
In case you don’t know a lot about me, thought I’d reprint it here. Going to run it straight, not include the images they asked me to send to them (I sent them a bunch, but they picked one of Springsteen, one from Ethiopia, one of my son behind home plate and one of Flo in India. And the portrait that leads this piece.)
Here’s what makes me click, as their headline said:
From R&D and Supply Chain to Sales and Marketing, and everything in-between, it takes a lot of people with diverse skill sets to make our multi-billion-dollar organization run. In this series, meet Janssen employees who work behind the scenes to help bring our products to life and make our Janssen community a great place to work
Mark Krajnak, Janssen’s Manager, Strategic Communications, his trusty Canon 70D DSLR camera, and his little pink plush Beanie Baby pig named Flo have traveled throughout the U.S. and to a dozen other countries, both for work and on his own, in pursuit of his passion for “visual storytelling.” But Mark was well-established in his corporate communication career before he even owned a camera or knew photojournalism existed.
“When I was growing up, the family camera only came out at birthdays or holidays. And, I didn’t have any photography classes or clubs in high school or while studying mass communications at La Salle University,” he recalls. “At 17, I was a stringer for a local northeast Pennsylvania newspaper, then I covered the pharmaceutical industry for MedAdNews magazine. In 1998, I joined Pharmacia & Upjohn, and one of my first assignments was overseeing photo shoots for its annual report. I’d watch the photographers work — this was still in the film days — and got interested in their craft. The more photo shoots I went on, the more I asked questions, the more I wanted to dive in. The first time I went to Europe on an annual report photo shoot, I had one of those disposable Kodak cameras that you dropped off at the drugstore to be developed. But even with that, I can see now I was trying to develop my eye.”
After five years with Pharmacia followed by a year in the corporate affairs group at Genentech in San Francisco, Mark returned to the East Coast in 2004 to join Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development — “J&J PRD, if anyone remembers that” — in the media relations group. From 2008 to 2013, as part of the J&J corporate communication team, he redesigned and managed jnj.com, oversaw the award-winning annual report, curated the corporate image gallery and, of course, art directed photo shoots.
Since 2013, as part of the Pharmaceuticals Stakeholder Activation Team, he has been responsible for the redesign and management of janssen.com, and he also drives Janssen’s digital strategies through social media properties such as @JanssenGlobal on Twitter, the Janssen YouTube channel and the Janssen LinkedIn page.
Focusing on Documentary Photography
As both his career and his interest in photography progressed, he continued developing his eye, using the web on his own time to search out sites, blogs and videos, and to study the great LIFE, National Geographic and newspaper photojournalists.
“I enjoy documentary photography because of my journalistic roots,” he says. “I like to tell the story, and while one photo may be worth a thousand words, a photo essay can say so much more. I shoot ‘entire to detail,’ showing the whole environment, then homing in on details. I usually shoot in sequence and try to build the story through my photos — even for family vacation shots!”
At Johnson & Johnson, Mark has been taking photos of — and been inspired by — many employees, patients, healthcare workers, doctors and nurses touched by the company’s products and services in Africa, Belgium, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, London, Nicaragua and Russia, as well as locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. He was particularly moved by a photo shoot in Detroit, Michigan for a story in the J&J annual report about a three-year old boy with Down syndrome named Christian. “He was the same age as my youngest son,” Mark recalls. “He had been through so much, but he was so positive and upbeat. I still think about him.”
‘Take a Good Look Around — This Is Your Hometown’
Outside of work, Mark’s images have appeared in the Financial Times, the Guardian, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, and other print and online publications, as well as on albums and book covers, and in an exhibit at The Photo Place Gallery in Vermont. He especially enjoys highlighting his home state of New Jersey. For the past nine years, on New Year’s Day, he has photographed the Sons of Ireland Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser on the beach in Asbury Park. “More than 500 people plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, and I get in with them to take pictures,” he says. “I’m waterproofed, but I still take on some water protecting my camera. I hope one of these years it snows!”
And, as every Jersey boy apparently does, Mark has his own Bruce Springsteen stories.
“While I do enjoy his music, his talent as a fiction writer is what draws me to him,” Mark says. “I’ve never met him. But, I have taken photos for Backstreets.com, the Springsteen fan website. In April 2017, at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival, I was photographing The Upstage Jam, which commemorates the Upstage music club where local musicians, including Springsteen, jammed in the early 1970s. Bruce was a few feet away, playing guitar and singing with Little Steven Van Zandt and Southside Johnny Lyon. Those three legends of the Asbury Park music scene don’t appear on the same stage much anymore, so I was happy to get some very cool shots.”
Hamming It Up with Flo
And what about the Beanie Baby pig?
“Back in December 2001, Flo the pig lived on a bookcase with my girlfriend, Leslie, who is now my wife,” Mark explains. “When I left for a trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan, I snuck Flo into my travel bag. Digital cameras were just starting, and I e-mailed Leslie a photo of Flo standing next to a 25-foot Santa Claus. Flo told her, ‘Hi, I’m traveling with Mark. I’m good. Be home soon.’ Little did I realize Flo would travel with me for the next 16 years and counting. As you can see in our Travels of Flo blog post, we’ve had some great adventures together.”
So there you have it. A little background about me The story on SQUARE has been viewed over 1,000 times now, with about 20 comments. People love the Flo story.
And, I actually did my portrait in that particular t-shirt for a reason: To raise awareness about Asbury Park and how the local music scene has helped revived the city. In the comments section of the SQUARE article, more than a few people asked where they could get that t-shirt. I’ve directed them to the Asbury Park Music Foundation website as all proceeds go to the local kids music scene in Asbury Park.
So, my intention worked! The power of photography, folks. Keep after it.
Hope you enjoyed this little insight into me and my past. What I like to show is how I can sustain my passion for photography right through my job. I know I’m fortunate to be able to do this – that’s not lost on me. I hope it can continue!
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017
Last Saturday, Scott Kelby held his 10th annual Worldwide Photowalk.
It’s been seven years since I did one of these photowalks. Things often conspire against me: I’m traveling for business, I have family obligations, or don’t feel like traveling to go to one.
This year, though, I decided to not only do one, but to be a Photowalk Leader. For this auspicious title, I had to send in an application. Not really sure what the process is on on Kelby’s end, but I figured if I dropped Joe McNally’s name enough times in it, I’d get to lead a walk in Allentown. Scott and Joe are old friends.
It worked, I guess. I got an email saying I was granted Leadership.
So, now I was all in. When people go to the Photowalk website, they can put in their zip code to find a walk taking place near them. That was one way to find out about it. I also posted to the Allentown, NJ Facebook page.
I was hoping that maybe 10 people would sign up.
37 signed up.
Now, not all that signed up showed. But above pic shows who did who up and who did do the walk with us.
Cameras of every kind. Skill levels of every kind. A couple of people I knew just online, but got the chance to meet in real life (IRL, as the kids says). My 10 year old daughter, Olivia (gray Nike shirt) signed up too. Plus, she did the cool signage for us (wood board, blackboard paint, chalk)
We had people come from near (Allentown proper) to far – one gal, Penelope Taylor, came down from Hamburg, NJ, a good two hours north of New Jersey. She’s one of my on-line pals, does some really sweet infrared work. More on her in a bit.
Anyway, my guidelines for the walk were pretty loose. The night before our walk, I sent out some “Allentown Points of Interest” – The old mill area, the bamboo forest we have, a nature trail, the town cemetery, etc.. We were to meet up at The Moth coffeehouse at 11 a.m. and shoot till 1, or whenever people felt like leaving.
That’s pretty much how it played out. Saturday was warm and humid, not very Fall like, frankly. The gang met up outside The Moth, I had everyone sign in, and just gave them some basic instructions. First and foremost, I wanted to get the group shot done since I didn’t know if people would come back to the start stop. Many didn’t, so I was glad I shot the shot in!
From there, they were off. I hung back, talked to some folks and then started to do portraits. It started with Penelope, actually. A few weeks ago, she emailed me and asked if I could shoot her portrait. She liked the #garagestudio shots I post to my Instagram. I don’t think she realized, at first, I shoot them in my garage – literally.
Since I couldn’t take Penelope to my garage (well, we were just a few miles away, I guess I could have, technically), I brought my studio to the photowalk. One black backdrop and some nice natural light, coming up!
Here’s a finished image.
Pretty simple, easy to do. No fuss, no muss.
In addition to Penelope, I shot a few more portraits, too.
Frankly, I didn’t do any walking myself. Which was fine with me. I was happy to show off our town a little, and chat with these fine folks. I was especially happy to see the four or five kids that came a long to shoot. They have some talented eyes, I must say!
The two hours went by pretty quickly. After I packed up my gear and was headed home, I saw a couple of folks grabbing a coffee at The Moth, and a few others down the streets getting some ice cream at Heavenly Hands.
That was an underlying goal of mine – by doing the walk in Allentown, perhaps the local economy could get some action. Seemed like that worked.
But, I have to say, I really liked showing my little hometown, too. Many were familiar with Allentown, and many said they want to come back again and explore more. That’s pretty cool.
And, I had to introduce the group to Flo, too. Tried to do a group photo with her but, alas, blew the focus, and the shot.
All in all, a good time was had by all, I think. And, the walkers have been sending me their photos and I’ve compiled them here. Check ’em out!
If you participated in one of Scott’s Photowalks this year, drop a link to your pics in the comments below.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017
Hi Everyone! Flo The Pig here taking over Mark’s blog. It’s early and he’s still sleeping, but I’m sure he won’t mind.
I know, I know…it’s been a while since you’ve heard or seen me. There was a time when you saw me more on this site. Mark and I we’ve had some great adventures together. It all started back around 2001, I think. I was content to sit on his girlfriend’s (now wife). Then, Mark kidnapped me for a trip he took to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Next thing I knew, he’s taking a photo of me with this new-fangled thing called a “digital camera” in front of a 25 foot Santa Clause being held by some other photographer guy.
From there it was a whirlwind of domestic locations: St. Louis, Missouri; Creve Coeur, Missouri, Venice Beach, California; Chicago, Illinois. I never knew there was such a big world out there!
Then things really started to take off (no pun, intended.) Mark started to do more global travel and, with every take off, I was tucked in his carry-on bag.
As Mark’s travels continued, I became more “one with the people.” No longer was I just sitting on cold, hard pavements, I started to connect with the people I was meeting all over the world.
It was really fun. Even though Mark didn’t speak their language (usually), a smile and a motion with his camera and people would willing taking me into their hands.
One of my favorite experiences was in China. Mark kept trying to get the guards at Tienanmen Square to hold me. But no dice. They were all business.
Then, a Chinese woman tugged on Mark’s sleeve, and motioned to her young daughter. No words were exchange, but we got our shot.
There have been other locations shoots as well – Granada, Nicaragua; Nairobi, Kenya; Shanghai, China; Lancaster, Pennsylvania (hey, it counts.)
As times changed, and budget restrictions occurred, and more crowd sourcing of stories and images happened, Mark and I started traveling less for business. I’ve spent more time buried at the bottom of his kids’ playbox than bouncing around in overhead.
Tonight, though, the adventure continues. We’re on our way to Cape Town, South Africa, to chase the light and the pixels for a couple of weeks.
If everything works out weather-wise, it’ll be wheels up this evening, a stop-over in Amsterdam, and then on to Cape Town. First production meeting will be 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Of course, I’ll share carry-on luggage space (Mark’s a one-bag guy: Hasn’t checked a bag in almost five years) with Mark’s camera and a couple of lenses (after his 17-85mm bonked at the start of a trip in Ireland, he now tosses his Nifty Fifty into his bag just in case.)
Kipling may have said “He who travels fastest travels alone”, but lucky for me, Mark doesn’t quite fully believe that.
As long as I don’t pork up too much (heh, pig joke!), I’ll still make it into his bag.
As they say in Afrikkans: Totsiens!
See you on the other side!
© Flo The Pig | Part of JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2014
This week was the high holy week in the Christian faith. Holy Week, in Christianity, is the last week of Lent and week before Easter.
Growing up Catholic, this was always one of the more solemn weeks of the year for me. I made it through whatever I “gave up” for the 40 days of Lent. That included no meat on Fridays but plenty of pizza, tomato soup and tuna casseroles on that day.
While in Catholic grade school in Northeast Pennsylvania, our Easter break would start on Holy Thursday. By 3:30 p.m. on Good Friday, I was usually in an alter boy’s cassock and tight shoes, sweating, holding the burning incense and/or the big liturgical book. If the older priest was doing the service, the book was at arm’s length. If the younger guy, I could lean it against my chest. Either way, the biceps burned.
Paying attention to the service was optional. I’d be trying not to pass out either from a) the heat in the church, or b) the incense filling my nostrils. We’d do the Stations of the Cross for the last time – my knees hitting the hard sacristy floor 14 times.
Down and up, down and up.
The day after Easter, Easter Monday, was reserved, usually, for going to the circus. Go figure.
In the past few years, in my travels around the world, religion….faith…churches…have always seemed to be a constant draw for me and my camera.
The beauty and majesty of a church, no matter how far outside the city limits it may be.
Maybe because it’s a constant wherever I go. No matter your faith, no matter where you, there’s a hope, a desire….a belief…that’s there is something guiding us all.
Something, someone we feel the need to be accountable to… or for.
I know what I was baptized into…what my schooling has wrought…where my faith lies. But a global view gives you just that…a global view. Who’s to say whose is right? I’s up to the individual, and where it take’s the, right?
I’ve made it a point that, no matter where I am in world, no matter which church, temple, synagogue I encounter, a prayer based in faith can’t hurt.
When I was in Shanghai, while Leslie was pregnant with Matthew, I lit incense and prayed for my family…
Other times, I’ve paused, and just been awed, by the quiet devotion.
In the end, it’s about the end,right?…Have we put forth the good effort, have we done the penance…
Where do we end up, hands crossed across our chests, boots up?
We all end up in the same, similar place, logistically speaking.
But then what?
It’s a matter of faith, no? Who’s to say which faith is right or not. It’s why I never really understood religious wars.
It’s whatever gets you through the darkest days and the deepest nights in life.
That’s what faith is, right?
Wherever you live.
© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved