If missed Part 1 of this story, click on the link here (PART 1) to catch up
It was 3 PM now at the Downtown Jersey City Street Fair as I was beginning to get fatigue as I walked back and forth multiple times down Newark Ave. seeing every vendor I passed by. If anything, I was starting to get a bit bored. I pushed on, though, because with more people coming, I was expecting something new and interesting. I kept my camera around my neck despite my aches with the temperature starting to get warm. I thought about putting my camera away to rest my neck, but I didn’t want to do that and rush my camera out of my bag if I saw a potential shot.
I went back to the intersection of Erie and Bay Street where I saw the family band play. The stage was set for multiple performances by different bands as a large crowd was surrounding it to see another performance (Photo Above). I went with a wide shot to capture everyone in the crowd watching another band.
You can see the band in the far back in the middle, but I decided to concentrate more on the crowd. I also wanted to capture the “Beer Garden” banner just above the crowd to show how festive this fair was. What I enjoyed most about this shot is the father and daughter on the left side of the frame holding hands as they too were moving around the fair.
Moving along once more, I kept walking down Newark Ave. to see if I could find anything interesting. Fortunately, I did see something interesting on the corner of Erie Street as someone was walking a small pet pig on a leash! Now, this isn’t this first time I have seen a pig out in public in Jersey City.
Over a year ago, I was covering two Jersey City events (Project: Eats in front of City Hall and the Peach Pie Contest at Riverview Fisk Park) in which a guy had a fully grown pig on a leash. This time around, it was a piglet. I’m not sure if it was the same owner of the older pig I saw last year or that pet pigs are a new thing in Jersey City.
The little piggy was getting all the attention as everyone was on the ground trying to pet it and take pictures; I joined in of course (Photo Above). It was tough to get a photo of the little fella as it kept moving around with all the attention it was getting. I quickly zoomed in for a close-up as I was kneeling to get a nice frame of the piglet. I was happy that I was able to get the piglet to look at my camera for a spilt second to get the shot. The pig feet on the concrete ground is my favorite part of this photo!
It was now 4 PM and I was so exhausted. Seeing everything at the fair already, I was already thinking about preparing to go home already. I put my camera away as my neck was killing me. I needed to rest and sit somewhere away from the fair for a bit to refuel. I was about to head to Van Vorst Park as I was already on Jersey Ave. when I suddenly received a phone call.
It was from my childhood friend, Stephanie! I had texted her earlier in the day when she responded to my Facebook photo of the fair and she asked about how long the fair was going to be around. I sent her a text later to see if she was coming down to the fair. She replied that she was on her way.
That text was sent an hour and a half ago as 4 PM rolled around and I was afraid that she wasn’t coming. Also, I thought about how there was probably traffic to downtown thanks to the fair. I was hoping to see Stephanie since I hadn’t seen her since Christmas Eve. last year when we were able to hang out and watch a movie. It was the last time I saw her before moving out of Jersey City. I also wanted to spend time and enjoy this fair with someone as I was getting bored with just being alone at this event.
I picked up my phone as Stephanie said she was on the corner of Jersey Ave. I spotted her right away as she threw her perfect smile and waved me over. We greeted each other with a hug as we were happy to see each other again. Stephanie and I have known each other since out middle school days at P.S #37 Cordero located near Hamilton Park. We also lived a few blocks from each other when we both lived in the downtown area back then. We were inseparable best friends in school as we kept in touch over the years.
We started walking down Newark Ave. as I was excited again for this fair since I had someone with me again. It was like exploring the fair all over again as it was Stephanie’s first time at this street fair. She was excited to check out all the vendors and was looking forward to eating some of the food at the vendor tents. We ended up eating at Two Boots Pizza as the fair was too overcrowded.
After catching up with what has been going on in each other’s lives, Stephanie and I continued to explore the fair as I told her about the fair and which vendors had what. She ended up going to the Downtown Yogurt table where they had cotton candy in which she bought. In front of Grove Street, Stephanie decided she wanted to take a photo with her cotton candy and I gladly accepted (Photo Above).
I decided to go with a vertical shot since I wanted the main focus on Stephanie and I wasn’t getting that when I had it set to a horizontal shot since so many people were walking in the shot. Shooting vertically helped frame Stephanie perfectly as her pose certainty helped do that. The cotton candy and her smile added a cute touch in this shot. I also wanted to include the Grove Street sign on the top right corner just to add that downtown Jersey City atmosphere in the photo.
We decided to stand by the Grove PATH station for a bit and tasted perhaps the thickest cotton candy we ever tasted. We were goofing off, taking dumb selfies with the cotton candy before getting rid of it. Afterword, Stephanie was on her phone as I decided to go over to the Uncle Bud a.k.a The Sauce Man booth.
Uncle Bud is run by a man name Tony Alexander who calls himself Uncle Bud and creates these amazing homemade sauces ranging from mild to spicy flavors. He sells his sauces at almost every Jersey City event and I have bought these amazing sauces in the past. I first met Tony a year ago to cover the Peach Pie contest at Riverview Fisk Park for my old photography freelance job and did a story on him.
I stopped by Uncle Bud’s booth earlier in the day, but Tony wasn’t there. His assistant was overlooking the booth, however, as I purchased Uncle Bud’s new sauce “Kiss Me Ginger”. I was glad to see Tony this time around as I gave him a friendly handshake. Tony saw my camera and he wanted to pose right away for a shot (Photo Above).
Tony had his arm around his assistant as he gave one thumb up. I zoomed in for a simple medium shot. I had to increase the exposition composition to get some brightness since there was some shade in the area thanks to the sun setting and I needed to get Tony’s face visible for the shot. Also, just like ChicpeaJC’s booth, I wanted to get the awesome Uncle Bud banner with Tony’s animated logo holding his own sauces. I bid Tony farewell as his tent was getting busy with plenty of customers.
With the fair being overcrowded, Stephanie and I left it for a few minutes as we walked a few blocks to the old La Conguita location, the once stapled downtown Jersey City restaurant that closed its doors forever this past summer. Stephanie wanted to see if the mural of the old Cuban man was still there as she wanted to take a few photos in front of it. I told her that the former owners said that the mural will stay up. Sure enough, we arrived on the corner of Erie and Bay Streets and the mural was still there.
We took a few pictures in front of the mural, but this one here is my absolute favorite (Photo Above). I had Stephanie placed right in the middle of the mural as she fixed her hair to the side since the wind kept blowing it. I went with a medium shot so I could fill both sides of the frame with the mural while leaving the artist name on it. Stephanie posed as a natural again as she just placed her arms and legs in a proper position while she shot a million dollar smile.
The old La Conguita also had framed vintage Cuban movie posters on the side of their restaurant next to the mural which was still there to my surprise. Stephanie picked the poster at the far right end that had a couple dancing to band music and stood in front of it for a shot (Photo Above). Since the poster is vertically long, I decided to go with a vertical shot too.
Now, I framed the poster and Stephanie to the left so that way I could avoid getting another movie poster in the shot. Thankfully, Stephanie picked the last poster to make this shot a lot easier as I filled the right frame with the rest of the old restaurant’s wall. If I didn’t say this photo was taken in Jersey City, you would think this was shot in Cuba. This isn’t the first time I took Stephanie’s photos as we had a model session just almost a year ago.
Once out mini-model session was done, we headed back to the fair and walked down Newark Ave. again, but this time stopped to check out the group playing Hispanic music from earlier as they were still at it. Stephanie was enjoying it a lot as she said “Now this is real Spanish music right here.” People were still surrounding them, taking photos and recording. Of course, I had to partake in the photo taking activity (Photo Above).
I went with a wide shot as I was standing on the sidewalk this time right behind the musicians. I captured the entire crowd of spectating and it had grown tremendously from the last time I stopped and watched this group. I focused more of the woman on the left side of the frame, capturing her movements as she danced to the music. I also focused on the guy blowing the trumpet as it was the first time I saw him. It was like the group kept adding more musicians and spectators.
After watching the local Hispanic band for a few minutes, we continued to walk down Jersey Ave. where there was another musical performance at another stage with some random guy dancing and getting into some genre of music I was not sure of (Photo Above). The sun was directly in my eyes as I try taking this shot. I couldn’t even see the shot I wanted so I had to use the viewfinder.
I zoomed in for a medium shot and caught the guy dancing at the right moment on the left side of the frame as I waited for him to get in front of the camera while getting the full band in the background. What’s cool about this shot is the combination of smoke and sunlight by the singer and the guy on the keyboard that the camera was able to capture. I have never been able to get that type of natural effect in a photo before until now.
For one last time, Stephanie and I went back to the fun group playing Hispanic music. You had people from the crowd jumping in the circle and dancing their asses off as everyone around them clapped along. During a small break, people on their instruments took a breather (Photo Above).
I went with a medium shot as my main focus was getting all the three men on their bombas and each of their different actions. You have the man on the left checking out his phone, the man in the middle looking like he’s ready to play again and my favorite is the elderly man on the right showing the young boy how the bomba is played as the kid has one of his own.
One of the vendors that Stephanie was really interested in was the henna tattoo booth as she wanted to get a design on her arm. We were there earlier, but the woman doing the tattoos was on break so we left for 10 minutes. For some reason, we kept missing the booth as it was next to a bunch of other tents and was easy to miss. We came back 10 minutes later after checking out the fun Hispanic musical performance as the henna tattoo artist returned. Stephanie was ready to get her tattoo (Photo Above).
I took a lot of photos of Stephanie getting her henna tattoo, but this one is my favorite just for the interaction between her and the henna tattoo artist. I saw them discuss the design of the tattoo and as they looked at each other, I quickly took the zoomed in close up shot while capturing the candles in the backdrop. What I love about this shot is what sums up the diverse community in Jersey City. You have Stephanie, a Puerto Rican woman, engaging with an Indian woman giving her a henna tattoo, a well-known practice in Indian culture.
I took a few more pictures before calling it a day photography wise as I wanted to focus hanging out with Stephanie for what little time I had left. We checked out more vendor booths, went to the Halloween costume store where Stephanie bought a Black Widow costume and shared a drink at a bar restaurant called Raval Tapas which had just opened up a few months ago and was my first visit there.
I had planned on staying a little longer and getting one more drink with Stephanie, but she was worried about me getting home late since I had to travel. She tells me to check the train schedule as it was already 7 PM and it was getting dark. I checked my phone and my next NJ Transit train was arriving in 40 minutes. I decided the best option was to leave as Stephanie walked me back to the PATH. We gave each other a tight farewell hug and we talked about meeting up next time.
On the train ride back home, a reminisce on this wonderful day being at the fair and being back in Jersey City while getting great photos, seeing awesome people like The Big Hair Girls, Lynn of ChicpeaJC and Tony Alexander of Uncle Bud. It was great to hang out with Stephanie who helped made the fair even more of a blast. It was the day I truly needed to energize me back as I was out of gas back in Lawrenceville. It was the perfect way to officially end the summer season.