Jersey Style – a profile of Mark Krajnak
Followers of Rear Curtain will be familiar with the work of Mark Krajnak. We have published several of his photo essays on our website and one of his 1940’s noir-themed images have closed each issue of Rear Curtain Magazine.
Mark spent his early years in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but now lives in New Jersey and his pride and devotion to his adopted state is one of the major foundations of his photography. In fact, he has labeled his photographic style as Jersey Style (or the lengthened, catchier version from Mark: “Because there’s style….and then there’s JerseyStyle”). The other foundations of Mark’s photography, apparent throughout his work, are his three children and his enthusiasm for both hard-boiled 1940’s noir and for the musician Bruce Springsteen.
Mark is a self-taught photographer and, like many photographers today, his course to the camera was circuitous. It began with a job at 17 when he worked as a writing stringer for a local Northeastern Pennsylvania newspaper after which he attended La Salle University where he studied Communications and English Literature. Upon graduating Mark worked various jobs until he found himself as the main writer and associate editor of a small monthly magazine that covered the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. This job led Mark to a career in the pharmaceutical industry and his current position as Global Strategic Communications at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. At Janssen, Mark is responsible for management of the company website and curation of the corporate images and directing company photo shoots. Mark’s work with Janssen has helped keep a camera in his hands, but it is his personal work he shares most frequently and that caught our attention.
In 2008 Mark began a photography project which would continue for the next six years. The goal was to meet 100 strangers, learn more about them, and then make a portrait of them. In Rear Curtain Issue 4 released in July 2013, we shared his progress to date. We were excited to see he recently completed the series which you can see in its entirety here.
The 100 Strangers project is only one series we have followed over time. Mark also produces Noir themed photos (many influenced by Springsteen songs) that have caught the attention of those both within and outside of the Noir community. In 2014 Mark discontinued what was a regular weekly release of his Friday Noir, but he still sporadically sprinkles some of “The Man in the Fedora” on his website from time to time. Mark’s noir images are on book covers and his noir work has led to portrait opportunities and a mention in a recent post from his old friend and veteran photographer Joe McNally who reminisced about photographing Mark in noir attire or his Hot Shoe Diaries book. Mark is currently collaborating on noir images for an upcoming crime fiction anthology of short stories titled Trouble In The Heartland which bridges his love of noir and things Springsteen.
Mark’s joy of photography and ceaseless curiosity are evident in his work. “Documentary photography is what I love—the world around us. People tell the story of the world we live.” That curiosity urges him to talk with people and to seek answers as it did in a recent photo essay on beekeeping. It also connects Mark with his community that often provides him with work such as a portrait session with local yoga instructor Greg LoBiondo and the opportunity to document the TriRock Triathlon in Philadelphia.
Next up for Mark is the Fifty Years of ‘Makin’ This Guitar Talk: A Bruce Springsteen Forum. On September 20, 2014 Mark will be part of this forum at Monmouth University along with some of the writers who contributed to Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen which will be out in early December. On October 30, 2014, he will join some of those same writers at NoirCon as part of a panel called Veering Off the Highway: How Bruce Springsteen’s Music Shapes Crime Fiction. This panel will help kick off the conference during the first evening. We hope you can make it to one of these events and hear Mark talk about photography and how Bruce Springsteen’s music, themes, and lyrics influenced his “Jersey Noir” photography series.
We are pleased to call Mark a friend and are always excited to see and share his work. To follow Mark and spend time viewing his photography, noir-themed and otherwise, visit his website, Flickr page, and Zenfolio site.