There is a fair in Jersey City that occurs in the downtown area every September known as the “All About Downtown Street Fair” where all the businesses in the downtown area along with other New Jersey businesses set up their vendor tents and booths from the beginning of Newark Ave. to all the way down the intersection of Jersey Ave. as the entire street is closed down so that everyone could walk down the street to purchase local goods and food!
I remembered the first time I went to the Downtown Street Fair back in 2013 and was amazed that I was able to walk down the street on Newark Ave. for the first time. Of course now the Grove Street Pedestrian Plaza closes down Newark Ave. to Erie Street full time except for the fair where Newark Ave. is closed off to Jersey Ave. It was great to see vendors of local businesses I’ve known growing up and others I never knew of before.
I went again in 2014 and this time I around had my DSLR camera for the first time to take photos of the event. I only spent a few hours there before heading home not knowing I may never have the chance to be at this event again since I moved out of Jersey City to Lawrenceville, NJ a few months later. With this September, the 2015 (5th Annual) Downtown Street Fair was quickly approaching and I was sad that I was going to miss another Jersey City weekend event due to a new location and working on Saturdays.
Luckily, on September 19th, I finally had a Saturday off and it was the same day as the Street Fair. Needing to get out of the neighborhood of Lawrenceville for the day, this was the perfect day to do it and spent the entire afternoon in my old neighborhood for the downtown fair! I took the nearest NJ Transit train to Newark Penn Station and hopped on the PATH on my way back home to Jersey City, taking my younger brother along with me. For this photography outing, I shot in program, set my ISO levels to 200 and set the white balance to daylight (it was a very sunny day).
It felt great coming out of the Grove Street PATH station and out on the Grove Plaza to immediately see all the vendor tents already set and already a large crowd was present at the fair. For a large gathering like this, I always like to take shots of people in crowds just looking around at the vendors.
Thanks to the Pedestrian Plaza, I can take easy shots of the crowd. The only difficult part was the crowd constantly moving, so I had to get my shots off quickly before someone gets in the way or I had to get out of the way myself. The vendor tents made the main road narrow and when the crowd grew later on, I had to use the side walk to get around quicker.
For the first shot (Photo Above), I went with a simple wide shot capturing everyone walking in a straight line, wondering at every vendor tent. I took this between Newark Ave. and Grove Street just a few steps from the PATH station. I also wanted to capture the gorgeous blue sky on this beautiful summer like day with fall quickly approaching.
As much as I was photographer first in this outing, I was still a shopper as I browsed the tents slowly with my brother. When we reached Barrow Street, Barcade had two arcade machines in front of their place. Barcade did this a year ago with a Ms. Pacman and Galaga machine. This year they had a game called Cosmic Alien which is a Galaga clone and Spy Hunter. My brother, who’s underage, couldn’t go into Barcade to play the rest of the arcade machines, but I gave him a quarter to play Cosmic Alien as we were puzzled as to why it looked and played like Galaga.
We played Spy Hunter right afterword and we enjoyed the cool controls of stepping on the pedal while using the steering wheel that had a button on it to shoot. After we were done playing that, I decided to take a photo of these awesome arcade games (Photo Above).
I framed the games on the right side us I enjoy the idea of these machines being outdoors just like how it is on a boardwalk down the shore. I did this so I could have the rest of the fair to the left to show it as the main focus of the outing. I also want to show the background of the apartment homes of Jersey City on Newark Ave. as well as the two high rise condos looking over downtown.
After wondering the rest of the fair, my brother decided to leave and hang out with his friends from his old high school before transferring out. I let him go since I know how it is to miss friends you haven’t seen for a while. It was the last I would see him for the day as he ended up staying at our grandfather’s house to spend the night. So, I was all alone for the time being as I was solo once more on this photography adventure as I killed time taking some more photos.
Since I took a shot of the street fair from the entrance of Newark Ave. near the PATH station, I figured I would do the same near Barrow Street. It was nearing 12 PM and the crowd was beginning to grow even more. More people filled the street, looking at all the vendor tents (Photo Above).
I went with another wide shot as I had use the viewfinder since the sun was starting to blind me to the point where I couldn’t even look at the LCD screen. I shot this in the middle of the street as well so I could capture all the different actions like the woman in green on the left just looking at her phone or the young boy on the right pondering while holding his mother’s hand.
Just like the previous shot, this one is no different except I walked up a little further from the intersection of Barrow Street and Newark Ave for another shot of the wonderful crowd of the fair to showcase this large population of people (Photo Above). This shot, though, has more of the clear blue sky with the amazing downtown structures overseeing the fair.
Around 12 PM, my stomach began to growl as it was time to eat and rest. I had been walking up and down Newark Ave. for the past hour and a half and needed to refuel. I decided to get something to eat at the Talde JC booth where they were selling Lemon Grass Chicken with Noodles! It tasted delicious as I ate it walking towards the nearest bodega to get a cheaper priced soft drink. Since I was at a bodega, I just had to get Champagne Cola. I took my meal and enjoyed it while I sat on a sidewalk watching everyone walk by.
Once I satisfied my stomach, I decided to hit up ChicpeaJC’s booth on the corner of Erie Street and Newark Ave. ChicpeaJC is a Jersey City blog website run by a woman name Lynn where she writes about unique stories of local people and businesses in and around Jersey City. I have met Lynn several times in passing, telling her how much I enjoy her blog and just to say hello.
She had tweeted the day before the fair that she was going to have a booth and was selling her new t-shirts for the first time, so I figured I go check it out. When I arrived, Lynn had several girls in her crew helping her booth out as Lynn was in and out of the booth to cover the fair herself and to simply talk to others.
In the booth too were the Big Hair Girls, two other well-known Jersey City locals best known for their dog walking business, their music videos and, well, their big colorful hair! I walked in the booth to immediately check out the shirt with the slogan “This is Jersey City!” with the words dripping down like white paint. All of ChicpeaJC’s shirts were helped made with collaboration with Mushart.
As I looked over the shirts, Lynn approached me with a smile and excitement as she threw a high five at me. I told Lynn I was very interested in the shirt as she was able to get the shirt in my size. Since I had to pay in cash, I had to make a quick run at the ATM as Lynn kindly held the shirt for me. Before I left, I took a cool photo with the wonderful Big Hair Girls thanks to the ChicpeaJC crew using my phone to take the photo for me (Photo below).
After a quick trip to the bank and to FJB Comics to pick up the latest Ms. Marvel trade, I returned to ChicpeaJC’s booth to happily purchase another cool Jersey City shirt to represent my hometown. The Big Hair Girls were holding it for me which I thought was sweet. I waited until Lynn came back to the booth so I could personally show I was supporting her new merchandise business.
Lynn’s booth had a few other cool free stuff as I grabbed such items as a ChicpeaJC pin, postcard and stickers. Before leaving, I approached the Big Hair Girls and asked if I could take their photo and they kindly agreed (Photo Above). Since these girls are very tall, I had to go with a vertical shot to capture their entire bodies to capture their cool unique outfits and big hair, of course. I had to back up almost outside the booth so I could get this shot. I wanted to also get the cool ChicpeaJC backdrop which was provided for photo booth sessions for visitors.
After taking the photo, I thank the Big Hair Girls and told them how I always saw them in Jersey City passing by, but never had the chance to say hello because they were either on the go or talking to someone else. They laughed and said “Well, we are here in one spot, so you finally had the perfect opportunity to meet us.” I shook their hands as they introduced themselves as Venus and Lizzy. To know more about The Big Hair Girls, out their website: www.bighairgirls.com
I walked back near the Grove Street PATH station to see if anything new was happening since I ignored the area for a while. Nothing had been going on except for a few street performers at the Golokal booth, who were promoting their app which helps find local business in an area. They had these street performers juggling and making some balloon animals (Photo Above).
It was definitely something different so I simply went with a medium shot of the performers’ back as the bold headed guy with the brick pants balanced some blocks while the other guy tied up some balloon animals. The interesting part of this shot is that while these performers put on this act, everyone also on the left frame especially are just walking and paying no mind at all to the act. It wasn’t really the case as they did get attention later on, but just not in this particular shot.
Besides using my main DLSR camera, I was using my smartphone to take photos as well while uploading them to my social media sites. With that activity going on, I was already beginning to lose battery life on my phone. Luckily, the ChicpeaJC booth had a charge station (the only one for some odd reason), so I went back there to recharge my phone. While charging my phone, Lynn was next to me charging her phone as well. She had chuckled when she had just received my tweet to her about the booth.
While charging my phone, I decided to take a photo of the ChicpeaJC booth. I really like the ChicpeaJC banner with Lynn’s animated logo and the exact shirt design I purchased hanging on the tent (Photo Above). With the sun blinding me, I quickly try taking this shot with the viewfinder as people kept walking pass by. I zoomed in close to concentrate on the two main subjects I wanted to frame on the left (ChicpeaJC Banner) and the right (The JC Shirt).
In the middle of the frame, I wanted to include the fair itself with the tents and people walking by to show some action. I didn’t realize until later when I was home that some guy just came into the frame on the right, but I left him in instead of cutting him out since I didn’t want to ruin the photo.
I left the ChicpeaJC booth for a moment then came back to take a few more photo there. Lynn was in front of her booth as she was dancing to the music in her booth. I approached her and asked if I could take a few pictures of her. She kindly agreed as I took her photo in front of the photo booth’s backdrop (Photo Above). I figured why not take a photo of the woman behind the awesome Jersey City blog and booth I kept visiting all afternoon.
In this particular photo, I simply went with a zoom in for a mid-frame shot so I could fill out the left and right sides of the frame with the photo booth backdrop all while keeping Lynn the middle focus of the photo. She gave me a wonderful smile while she held her camera. It’s great when you can rarely take a photo of another photographer and blogger.
For one final shot of Lynn, this time I placed her right underneath the ChicpeaJC banner. I wanted to put Lynn right underneath her animated logo for a cute shot as I zoomed in for the close-up (Photo Above). Again, Lynn is the main focus along with the banner as they are the centered on the photo. As for the rest of the photo, there wasn’t much thought to it except for mailbox with all the graffiti to show the nature of Jersey City while showcasing a Jersey City blogger.
After our mini photo session, I thanked Lynn for taking her photos as I walked back to the street fair. If you want to know more about Lynn and her amazing Jersey City stories check out her website as www.chicpeajc.com
I continued along walking back and forth the street fair. I ended up buying two more Jersey City related shirts for myself and my brother at another vendor. Afterword, I walked down near the Palace Drugs store to see other vendor tents I didn’t notice before. There wasn’t much going on there, but the St. Peter’s University had their own booth with their Peacock mascot greeting everyone, including this little girl (Photo Above).
I captured this moment with a zoom in for medium shot as the little girl went in for the hug as the Peacock mascot was ready to embrace it. I love the reactions of the women in the booth as they smile about this affection. Oddly, this was one of the few costume mascots in this fair. I had expected more for some reason.
You can’t have a fair or any kind of festival without music being performed live in almost every corner. The one performance that intrigued me the most was the one played on the corner of Erie and Bay Streets behind Morlees. They had plenty of performers during the day at this spot as many local bands were performing their music. The one that caught my attention was a family rock band.
You had a mom and dad at guitar and bass, the daughter as the lead singer and another kid on the drums. This is something you would see on a family sitcom or movie. I didn’t catch the name of their band, but they were actually doing a kick-ass job performing. Once they stopped playing one of their songs, dad had called out a cheering fan (Photo Above).
There were a lot of people surrounding the stage, so I had to zoom in to quickly get the medium shot I wanted. Since there was shade in this spot, I had to increase the exposition composition in order to get a much better, clearer and brighter shot to avoid the shadows. I framed the laughing mom, the singing daughter and the dad pointing at a loyal fan perfectly on the left, middle and right. I didn’t even notice the drummer until later when I looked back at the picture.
Not all music performances were done on stage as many were being done on the street itself. Right near the corner of Newark Ave. and Erie Street, a group of people began performing authentic, classic Hispanic music using instruments as people circled around them and watched (Photo Above).
I went with a simple wide shot as I wanted to capture not just the musicians, but the crowd watching on as they clap, observe and recorded footage off their phones. This image above shows the way a local event like this along with music can bring a community together.
It was now 3 PM, but I was far from being done with the fair and being in my hometown. To see more about what I did the rest of my time at the fair, check out part two of this Street Fair Story as this time I meet up with a childhood friend as we explore the fair together (Coming Soon).