A Big Man Birthday Bash


Jarod and Jake Clemons

On Friday evening, for Backstreets.com, I covered the Winter Bash: A Celebration of Clarence Clemons that took place at the Headliner in Neptune, New Jersey. Here’s the article I wrote for Backstreets, that ran on Saturday.


 As the clock struck midnight at the Jersey Shore, turning Friday into Saturday and officially ushering Clarence Clemons’ birthday, a Clemons was on stage.

Not one, actually, but two.

At a little Jersey Shore bar in Neptune, New Jersey, right on the banks of the Shark River, Clarence’s son, Jarod, and his nephew, Jake, stepped to the front of the Headliner stage to honor their father and uncle.

Softly, acoustically, the two performed Clarence’s hit song, You’re a Friend of Mine, before a dedicated audience that came to Winter Bash! A Celebration of New Jersey’s Annual Clarence Clemons Day, the start of a three-day celebration of C’s life.

Clarence, as we all know, was a big man with a big heart and a big appetite for all things. Perhaps an acoustic song wasn’t the expected way for Jake to kick off his headlining set. Perhaps the audience expected him to pick up his saxophone and strike that classic Clemons pose we all know so well and do a sorrowful version of Jungleland.

But this was not a memorial but a rock ‘n roll birthday party that saw four acts – Mike Rocket, Jarod Clemons and The Late Nights, Bob Polding and Eddie Testa – precede Jake to the stage.

Bash poster.jpg

Jarod Clemons, who was 13 when his father passed, has been hard at work laying the foundation for his own musical legacy. He recently released his debut single, On The Waves, which he played during his set at the Winter Bash, and will be appearing at various venues in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the next month.


In addition to that song, he and his band also played their brand of bluesy rock into Ramblewood Parkway, Why I Sing the Blues and the Hendrix classic, Hey Joe.


Jake, 39, too, is now making his own way in the musical world. He’s tour supporting his new, second album, Eyes on the Horizon, and, well, waiting to see if an E Street tour is on the near-term docket. His musical chops were on full display during his set, though, as he played a number of guitars, the keyboards and, of course, his black-and-gold saxophone. Songs like Democracy, We, The People, Swan Song and the title track put these skills on full display.


In past interviews, Jake has said he thinks about his uncle every time he performs. On the Headliner stage, he talked about discussing his uncle’s passing with Bruce, and what he should do next. The advice Bruce imparted to him was along the lines of “…if you carry life around the right way…you don’t lose people. You carry them with you.” Jake, in his living and his music, said he’s trying to keep that in perspective and continue moving forward.

Jake band_mkrajnak_011020_DSCF8291.jpg

“All you need is a little hope,” Jake said, as he launched in a full-Headliner sing-along of that refrain with the crowd.


Here’s a few other photos from the performance that I like, but ended up on the editing room floor.


Jake Sax2_mkrajnak_011020_DSCF8227.jpg


More to come about this event. There was a twist for me.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

Instagram | Twitter


Puerto Rico Oscuro


Yesterday’s post was about tone, light and color.

Today’s….not so much.

Black Cat_12DSCF5875

Walking the streets of Old San Juan, the shadows moved me.

The cobblestones shown in the headlights the corners darkened, held their secrets.

PR Alleyway_121019_DSCF6195

Calle Toro_bw_120119_DSCF5853

It felt like I was on the set of Touch of Evil.

And no one to call.


© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

Instagram | Twitter


¡Viva Puerto Rico!

I love PR_Flo_120119_DSCF5764

A little over a month ago, early December 2019, I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the first leg of my business trip photo shoot.

Coming from chilly New Jersey, it was a treat. The air was warm and tropical. We were staying at the Hotel Miramar. It was OK as far as hotels go, but my room didn’t look much like those on the website. Must have a different exposure. The view as ok, but needed the long lens to see any water. The chipped-away apartment building across the street on the left side was more readily visible.

Evening Light_120219_MG_6818

Late afternoon sun

But it was fine enough. It has been 10 years since I had been in San Juan, the last time being there with Joe McNally on another photo shoot. I hardly remember that trip, though. Ten years washes away a lot of the mind.

Camo Gilr_120119_DSCF5793

This time, I was in San Juan with Gary Chapman. The day before our shoot, I had some time to do a bit of a personal photowalk from my hotel to Old San Juan. I was to meet Gary and his wife, Vivian, at Barrachina, for dinner.

The three-mile or so walk gave me a nice amount of time to stroll, and to look, and to capture. Seeing what I could see.

Blue sky Building_120319_DSCF5759


Our Lady_120119_DSCF5734

San Juan Fisherman_120119_DSCF5769


Fire Lines_120119_DSCF5776

Saint Gerardo_120119_DSCF5811

It was stroll enveloped by tone, light and color. I worked up a little sweat in the humidity. The area under my camera bag strap darkened. The ocean trade-winds made my cotton shirt stick to me.




But it’s the things you see. The people you meet. Like Victor.


He wanted to return the favor, so I obliged.


That little hat Flo is wearing is called a pava – a straw hat made from the Puerto Rican palm tree. Vivian had found a small one earlier in the day, thought it would be good for Flo. Fit nicely.


After the  earthquakes this week, I’ve been thinking about Victor, and others I met during my travel in Puerto Rico. My colleagues said they are doing ok, but many are not. Here’s hoping things achieve a steady state there soon.

And let’s hope it’s not 10 years before I return to that beautiful island.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

Instagram | Twitter

Portraits of The Plungers


At the 2020 Polar Bear Plunge on January 1, I wanted to do something I had been thinking about for a few years: Portraits of the plungers.


I tried to do this – somewhat – a few years ago, but my skill level as a lot less, and I just didn’t have the equipment to do what I wanted to do.

But, this year I was inspired. See, before Gary Chapman and I took off on my last business trip to Puerto Rico and Ireland back in December, I had an idea of what I wanted him to do: In addition to the corporate photography that was our goal, I wanted him to do stark B&W portraits of the employees in the locations we’d be visiting. Figured my team could use them as some point.

So, that’s what he did. He brought along a large circular white, collapsible background and a single light (Profoto, I think) and he shot a number of portraits on white for me.


Flying back from Ireland, I started to think that I could do the same thing at the Polar Bear Plunge. Many of those plunging often dressed up, and that would give the portraits some character. Doing these portraits – “on white” – could be fun. And different.



But even if they weren’t dressed up, it would still be a neat way to capture the people and personalities associated with the day.


John, one of the Sons of Ireland

So, prior to setting up in Convention Hall, I did some test shoots in my garage with my white background my Neewer Vision 4 monolight and a shoot-thru umbrella. I tried both my Canon 70D and my Fuji X100T and decided to use the Fuji. Just liked the color files I was getting better, plus just a little smaller and less demanding.

When I got to Convention Hall in Asbury Park early on January 1, I looked for the best spot to set up my white back. Found a good spot for it and set up.

white background set up

X marks the spot. I always put an x down when I shoot portraits. Too close and there would have been more of a shadow.

So, I set up my little studio in the same place where The Who, Led Zepplin, The Doors and Bruce Springsteen and so many others have played. Now, I wanted to use the collapsible background that I have, but, on my test run, I ran into an issue setting it up securely. Story for another time.

Instead, I used a 5×7 background, textured on one side, white on the other, to achieve my white background. I knew I’d be often shooting more than one person, sometimes teams, but that was the widest I had. I’d have to made due. I just positioned people in tight.



If I had more room or inclination, I probably could have lit this more. Using a two or three light setup probably would have saved me time in post. But I knew a few things going in: 1) The floor would get crowded. The more lights set up, the more I’d have to worry about something getting knocked over. 2) Need to keep safety in mind. Didn’t need people drinking beer/kids tripping over things 3) And especially when I went out to shoot the actual plunge: I knew I’d have to break down a bit. Which is what I did – took the light down but left the background up. It was out of the way anyway.

Overall, though, I think i worked pretty well. I shot all the images in color (so I had them) and then converted to black & white and extended the background in Photoshop, if I had to.



The woman on the right is the one that I first worked with in 2008 to shoot my first plunge!

In all, I did about 50 portraits over the course of the day. And, putting the together in a mosaic rounded out my vision.


Here’s a short video.

So, in a year where I want to shoot more portraits, this was a pretty nice start. I even snuck in one of me!


Let me know what you think in the comments below!

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

Instagram | Twitter