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Inspired By – Jenny Cruger


Lemonade and Lenses is excited to start our new monthly feature that showcases inspirational stories, projects and talent in our photography community.  This feature is part of our new venture, titled Inspired by, which includes inspiration in sharing, teaching, and in events around the country.  Currently Inspired By includes a monthly feature on an inspirational photographer, weekly inspiration from images shared on our Facebook wall, and events around the country.  To be kept up to date with all of these make sure you sign up for our newsletter.

Jenny Cruger is a photographer who rarely needs an introduction.  Her beautiful creamy images have inspired new and seasoned photographers since 2010 and her beautiful designs have have become so many photographer’s gorgeous logos.  Jenny, owner of Jenny Cruger Photography, specializes in weddings, babies & families and resides in a gorgeous studio in Franklin, TN.  Recently I had come across Jenny’s new personal endeavor, The Tatoo Project.  I was insistently draw in as I soaked up the beauty and emotion in every image.  Right away I knew that this was something that had to be shared on Lemonade and Lenses and with our photography community.  So I reached out to Jenny to be our first Inspired By feature, who coincidentally also designed our beautiful logo for this new project.  For those of you who are new, be sure to soak up all the knowledge you can. For those of you who are seasoned, continue to be inspired.

Jenny shared a little bit with us about the first stages of The Tattoo Project, how the idea start ticking in her head, and why it was important to her to create this personal project

I knew I wanted to shoot something just for me this past winter, but when I first decided I wanted to do something like that, I had not the slightest idea of what it would be.  I got a tattoo for my birthday at the end of 2012 that had a lot of personal meaning to me (more on that below) and one day soon after that my husband and I were talking about people and their tattoos, their meanings, etc.  I had wanted them my whole life, but until a few years ago I never could think of anything I could commit to (okay, and the pain scared me).  My husband felt the same, and still does not have one for that reason.  As we talked more, he suggested that I shoot some cool tattoos. Genius! That would be my personal project this winter.  I wanted to take it a step further and, on one hand, ask for models of parents and their babies, but on the other hand, leave it pretty open ended in terms of style/age/etc. of my models.  It was important to me to have a variety, to impose no restrictions besides asking for simple/neutral toned clothing, and then just see what I got.  A few of the models ended up being fellow photographers, some were past clients, and some I had never met or seen before.  It was an interesting, long, and fulfilling day. It was all shot on an extremely dark and rainy day in my natural light studio, mostly with my 85 1.2L lens and also fuji 400h film on just a few.

We then asked Jenny what exactly was the tattoo project in her eyes and what did she want others to think of it after seeing it?

The Tattoo Project started out as simply just a personal vision. There weren’t many parameters and I didn’t really know what I was doing, what to expect, on purpose.  I knew I would shoot it in “my style”, but beyond that, this was an outside the box for me, and I even told my models, ‘I have no idea what I am doing, we’ll see what comes out!’. ;)  Now I see every image as personal to me as my own tattoos. I love that I captured so many tattooed parents, which is generally thought to be a “tough” look, in a vulnerable and ‘pretty’ way with their babies.  I want others to see the beauty, yet simplicity, of people and their body art and take it from there.

Did you know Jenny recently acquired a new tattoo, ouch! We wanted to know if this was for for the project or something completely different?

I did.  It was actually my second tattoo (my first is a camera on my wrist that I got a few years ago) and inspired by a lot of different things. 2012 was a year of many struggles, but also many things that helped me realize what is important in life, to really be true to myself, find myself, and always focus on only what matters, nothing else.  It’s a custom, hand drawn arrow by Brian Crandall on the inside of my (forearm).  My son, who is 3 1/2, knows that one of the meanings is simply, him.  That he is the most important thing to me. The tattoo itself was also a birthday gift from my parents (funny as they nearly died when I got my first!) so I know it’s something I will have forever from them, and will always make me think of them, even when one day we are no longer together.  It wasn’t for the project, but getting it certainly inspired the project! I am not sure I would have had these conversations with my husband, and done this project, had I not gotten the tattoo.

I’m sure a lot of photographers are wondering if personal project help you grow as a photographer, a person, or an as artist?  So we asked Jenny if this was the case.

I think so :) It was so interesting to get to photograph such a variety of different people and tattoos, all under one umbrella of a project, and on the same day.  I loved that it was different for me and not something I typically shoot, but still stayed true to my style and vision.  I definitely would love to shoot more clients with tattoos :)

Want to start your own personal project? Jenny also shared her view on personal projects and how other photographers could put their own together. 

Oh gosh…I think they are SO important.  Especially during a time you may be struggling with anything in life, things are cold out outside, you’re evaluating where your business stands, where you stand, what you want to shoot, etc.  It’s just rejuvenating to have only oneself to answer to, and even then I would suggest leaving room for mistakes, error, twists, and turns.  I wanted to go in with a little vision, but not too much; just see where shooting would take me.  I have had follow photographers send me the sweetest notes that this project inspired them to do something similar, with their own twist, and that is always super cool.

Last we asked Jenny what her ultimate goal for this project was.

When my husband first came up with the idea, his vision was a cool published coffee table book.  I couldn’t imagine that, but I can now, though I have learned there is a lot involved with that (and often a lot of money involved for not a huge payoff).  Right now I am not actively pursuing that route, but if anything were to come up about it, I would love that!  More importantly, I want to keep this project up on my site and blog so people know; this is something I love.  These are all sorts of random people, but this is personal and special to me.  

Jenny shared with us the contents of her camera bag because we know all the photographers would be dieing to know.
Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 5d Mark II, Canon EOS 3 (film), Canon 35L, Canon 50L, Canon 85L, Canon 100L, and aCanon  135L

(above is the stunning Jenny and her two personal tattoos)

Want to Follow Jenny’s project and work?
jennycrugerphotography.com
jennycrugerphotography.com/blog
The Tattoo Project
Jenny’s Designs
facebook.com/jennycrugerphotography
pinterest.com/jennycruger
instagram.com/jennycruger

Do you have a personal project of your own that you would like to share?  Feel free to leave a link below so everyone can be inspired and enjoy it.

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