Friday Noir: The Dark, Dark Hours

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The humidity.

That’s what you remember from that time, the humidity.

The way the air hung like a wet cloth on your face, suffocating you.

So warm, even the ice in the booze melted fast.

Too fast.

It wasn’t even worth the effort to put the ice in the glass.

It just watered down the booze.

And who wants watered down juice?

Better to let the brown liquid slide down your throat, scratchy but solving.

Especially this time.

Hard to say how things got like this.

Hard to say where things will go next.

Hard to breathe.

Just better to fill the glass again.

No ice.


(I posted a smaller, color version of this a loooooong time ago. Came across the B&W and liked it.)


(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2016

New Project: #allentownnjlife

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I’ve decided to take a page out of my friend Sabrina Henry’s portfolio, and start a new personal project.

I’m calling it #allentownnjlife.

For a while now, I’ve enjoyed Sabrina’s work to capture her little town of Steveston, British Columbia. She shares slices of small-town life while saying “The Village Life documents everyday life in Steveston and in doing so, reveals something truly special.”

I’d like to do the same for Allentown, NJ. We are a small community at the upper edge of Easter Monmouth County. The town was incorporated in 1889, though there is some debate about who founded it: Either a settler  named Nathan Allen or for William Allen, who served as Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania and had a hunting lodge here.

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Allentown has a quaint little downtown with a few small restaurants, a liquor store, a pharmacy, a dry cleaners, a bike shop/candy shop and a barbershop. It has a vape shop too. Progressive, in a way.

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There are many historic homes, dating back to the 17 and 1800s, and other businesses, including those in the Old Mill like The Moth Coffeehouse, that lend character and commerce to this town.

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Just off of  Main Street (yes, it’s an honest-to-goodness named Main Street), you’ll find farm land: vegetables like soybean and corn, Christmas tree farms, sod farms and horse farms.

The older kids go to Allentown High School and the younger kids go to either Stonebridge Middle School or Newell Elementary. The latter is named for William Newell, former Governor of New Jersey and the one that started the U.S. Coast Guard. He was at Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He died right there in his house, just off of Main Street and down the block from the school that bears his name. His final resting spot is across the street from the school, in the Allentown Presbyterian Churchyard.

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(c)JerseyStyle Photography_Allentown Presbyterian Church_042016

With this new personal project, I’d like to document the day-to-day life of this little town. The people are fiercely proud of it, and many are trying to make a small-business go of it. We all stand on the backs and shoulders of the farmers in the area, though. I’m hoping to find out more about their lives and work through this project.


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This is a long-term project. I don’t see an end date, but an on-going continuation to document this community.

I hope you’ll follow along this story!

(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2016


Sunday Focus: Dan Bannino

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Noir Stills – Following and Being Followed

Once again, the wonder of the Internet comes through.

A few weeks ago I was tooling around. Not sure if it was Twitter or Tumblr or something like that.

But I came across these INCREDIBLE noir images. Stopped me in my tracks. Made me stop scrolling, as the kids say (and that’s now the goal of web content creation – make someone stop scrolling and SEE what you put out there.)

Well the images of Dan Bannino made me stop. I look at  a lot of images, images that are supposed to be “noir,” images that think they are noir. But they really aren’t. Something the photographer slaps a fedora on a guy’s head, make it black & white and call it noir. Sometimes it’s in color (that’s fine) but it’s garishly lit and looks more like a commercial shoot for a piece of candy. Or then they go all Dan Winters effect and think that does it to make an image look “noir”.

Dan Bannino doesn’t go either of those routs and it’s a good thing. There is something about Dan’s noir images that made me stop and look, really look.

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Noir Stills – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide

Dan’s noir photos are meticuliously planned yet also have the appearance of happenstance. Like you just walked in on something. Some settings ( a gas station – a favorite of myself) didn’t surprise me. Others (a Burger King) did.

Dan, a young man who now lives about an hour outside of Turin, Italy, where he was born,  makes it all work, and incredibly so. Then I delved deeper into his portfolio and really liked what I found from his other portfolios as well A little web research turned up a Huffington Post profile of him and his shelter dogs project. And this piece on his Still Diets project.

Dan Bannino

Dan Bannino – Self Portrait

Dan has incredible vision and production skills. His image and workflow intrigued me. Thanks to the Internet (and Dan being a super nice guy), I was able to reach out to him and start a conversation. Then I thought “Hey, I should do a Sunday Focus on him! I haven’t done them in awhile….”

Wow, has it really been five years since the last one???? Sheesh.

In any case, I emailed Dan about my plan to do this feature, and he graciously said he’d answer some questions for me (and for you, dear readers) about his work and and his focus.

And so…on to the Sunday Focus With Dan Bannino….


JSP Q: Canon, Nikon or Other?
DB: First camera I was shooting with was a Canon, then I moved to Nikon. I’m a happy 5D Mark III owner, but last year Nikon Europe reached me out for a collaboration and from that project I became Nikon Ambassador.

JSP Q: Camera eye? (i.e which eye do you use to look through the viewfinder with)
DB: Right eye, but sometimes I prefer using the live viewer to work better on the composition.

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Noir Stills: Dining With Murder

JSP Q: Do you come from a photographic background?
DB: I never attended any photography’s school or courses, other photographers and great
masters of photography are my everyday inspiration, alongside with painters especially
Old Masters as Caravaggio.

JSP Q: Is photography your career? If not, what is?
DB: Photography is my calling. Three years ago I moved to London for pursuing my intention of becoming a full time photographer. After working as a product photographer, shooting objects everyday, I decided to quit and move back in Italy, to concentrate on personal projects. Today, I am working 24/7 as a photographer, yet still trying to making my way among all those talented photographers, regularly working on editorial assignments and etc.

JSP Q: What do you consider is your photographic path?
DB: I started moving professionally into photography shooting only objects creating still life (see that link to Dan’s Still Diets set) especially with food, but I quickly felt
the urge of exploring other subjects, from dogs to actual people. I always like to
experiment and challenge myself, pushing my photography to the next level, but trying to
keep a certain consistence with colors and moods.

JSP Q: How do feel you were able to develop your own brand of photographic storytelling?
DB: Behind great pictures there are always great ideas. Similarly, behind every shoot there
are days, weeks, and even months of research. Everyday life, books, movies and online
news always give me huge inspiration for telling a story. I also find inspiration from books,music, movies and of course I like to spend a bunch of time visiting exhibitions since I’m a huge art lover. Inspiration for the next photo can be just around the corner.

JSP Q: Tell me about the production that goes into your Noir Stills series.
DB: I always start a new series with the aim of telling a story. Noir Stills is a work inspired by 1940s-60s great noir movies’ directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed and Billy Wilder). I’ve developed these shootings with the purpose of making the public an eyewitness to my
narrative, I didn’t want to define viewers’ thoughts with a plot or a story line, but at the
contrary I wanted to leave them freedom to create their own ideas, without influencing
the feelings an image could give.

JSP Q: So you are your a big film noir fan? Which are your favorites?
DB: I am, totally. As said I am an avid crime stories reader and I old movies full
of beautiful details, amazing actors and so many inspiring visions.
My fav..I think I would say Rear Window, The Third Man and The Apartment
even if it’s not noir genre- for pictures (I think it actually won an Oscar for
that. Ed note: It did win Best Picture in 1961.)

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Niche of Wonders – Alice Cooper

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Niche of Wonders – Nixxi Sixx

JPS Q: What’s next for Dan Bannino?
DB: At the moment I’m working on promoting my latest series, probably the most boring part, but at the same time the more delicate and fundamental nowadays. And of course, I’m brainstorming for the next project!

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Niche of Wonders – Frank Sinatra

Many thanks to Dan for taking some time to answer some questions for JSP. Please check out more of his work on Instagram and Tumblr. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Also, watch this video about Dan and shelter dogs project.

If you have any questions for Dan, please leave them in comments.

All images in this post are copyright Dan Bannino and cannot be used without permission.

(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2016



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