Photographer Interview: Jenna VanDusen

Toward the end of last summer, as I was wrapping up my Artists In Jackson project, I went to an art show here in town to discover other Jackson-area artists. I left with one piece of art: Jenna VanDusen’s “Jackson” light painting photographer (top), and it now hangs in my home.

Jenna is a local fine art and portrait/wedding photographer, and her work is great. She uses light painting in great locations to make her work, and she works on family and wedding portraits through her Dream Real Photo & Video studio.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Jenna! A mother of a little three year old sweetie, a freelance videographer, and operator of Dream Real Photo & Video, LLC.

How did you get started in photography?

My father is a photographer of many many years, so of course that’s where it began. With my interest in video, I took classes for photography as well. I thought it was important to know my camera in this way while using my DSLR for video.

What do you like about your photography?

Simplicity, natural beauty, imagination, try to be original!

Your work with light painting is a lot of fun. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

It is a lot of fun! Inspiration began when learning about long exposure! I was blown away seeing work from photographer Gjon Mili as he captured light paintings with figure skaters and Picasso! Those images are so magical to me, done around 1947. Patience is key, to do it over and over, fixing your mistakes. Planning and visualizing what you want and how you’re going to pull it off is key. Being at a certain location is where the inspiration starts and then what to draw, or vis versa.

For any photographer I think to reach out to or connect to someone is a goal, but to add the light is to add a feeling too, and adding color can easily change the feeling.

What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?

Everything. My goal is to appreciate and do all types of photography. I feel like not only am I practicing about that way to shoot or technique but it’s an insight into … everything, which is what I enjoy most, the experience. Photography documents the beauty in life – which can be narrowed to two very broad categories: people and nature, together or apart, in many aspects!

Everyone is a dreamer. I’m all for realistically accomplishing your dreams. My hope is that my photography lets viewers to escape reality, but also brings inspiration for them in their lives.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

Projects are constant! Creatively I have a few ideas that i’ve been thinking about for as long as a year. Ideas just snowball and get bigger, which means more planning and taking steps for correct resources.

As much I appreciate and won’t stop doing light paintings free hand, I’m beginning a even more modern take on it, and incorporating light more into video and with clients, which is really exciting.

I’d like to work more with artists in Jackson with light painting [Wonder Woman with Doug Jones, above]. Everything I draw is very simple, which I love! But I think there is much to be done.

I’m also doing a personal 52 Week Photography project with Hayley Woodward, where we pick out a theme/subject/shooting technique and practice!

Find more of Jenna’s work on her Dream Real Photo & Video Facebook page and Instagram profile.