Photographer, storyteller and visual artist, Deanna Dusbabek has lived on Bainbridge Island on and off since the late 1980s and permanently since the late 2000s and has owned her own successful company, Bainbridge Island Portraits (Deanna Dusbabek Photography) for more than a decade. Deanna created her photography company to help people capture their story through visual art—whether it be legacy art of their family, business or personal branding. “My business was created with the intention to show people their best selves and to share those images with the world, if they chose to do so,” she explained.
The process requires a great deal of planning and isn’t for everyone, Deanna noted. Her approach is very focused and thoughtful, and she draws on her film and screenwriting studies to “show, not tell” the client’s story. “I go into a new client meeting armed with questions about who they are so I can uncover the clues to visually capture their answers,” she told me. “Their photoshoot is then customized around those answers: locations, backdrops, wardrobe and styling, time of day, etc. Each subtle visual element contributes to the final effect of a complete ‘story arc’ for that client.”
Although her preference leans toward more creative portraits, she’s found the demand for that is minimal, and so she shifted her focus over the last couple of years towards personal and business branding. “I love shooting branding and all the detail images around branding. It’s a super satisfying type of photography. Plus, styling is my jam, and there’s a lot of styling that goes on in branding photoshoots” she said.
Deanna has been a visual artist all her life and has worked in various media, such as drawing, painting, collage, and digital art. Her new venture, Deanna Dusbabek Art is an extension of her artistic persona, where she has created a product line of Fine Art pieces and a Lifestyle collection.
Working with fine art collage, fine art florals and watercolor photographs, Deanna uses original images that she’s taken or legally sourced and digitally manipulates them to create her various art pieces. The fine art pieces are printed on raw canvas or on fine art paper and some of her collage art is produced onto her Lifestyle collections—the creation of the Lifestyle line has been a goal of hers for some time.
Deanna decided to move in this direction so that she could spend more time on the art and writing side of her talents, while taking a breather from the portrait and branding work. She’s created almost 100 pieces of new art in 2022 for Deanna Dusbabek Art, which she said has “Fed my soul in a profound way”.
Deanna grew up in the Midwest and remained there after her family moved to Bainbridge Island. When she learned her father had been diagnosed with a terminal disease, she relocated to the area to be closer to him. She attended Seattle University where she obtained her B.A. in Philosophy. Initially she intended to pursue a Ph.D in the Philosophy of Beauty so that she could teach at the college level, but the eventual death of her father took a tremendous toll on her and she took a break from further studies. After graduating college, she worked as a freelance writer and copy-editor, and was published in Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine and several Seattle newspapers. Eventually, she decided to have an adventure and moved to New Orleans in 2001 and later Florida.
“I thought a lot about how I wanted to spend my time, as my dad had died at a young age without doing what he’d really wanted to do, which was to write novels. He’d had one in particular he’d started and never finished. While living in Florida, I decided once and for all to skip the letters after my name and just focus on art and writing.”
After making that decision (and wanting to escape Florida’s notorious hurricanes), Deanna moved back to Seattle and enrolled in the Seattle Film Institute to study screenwriting. After completing the year-long program and coursework, she enrolled in UCLA’s online professional screenwriting program, and earned a Professional Certificate. “During that time, it became clear that I’d have to relocate to LA to go any further, so I began making plans to do so,” she said. “This was during the Obama years, and as a result of the recession, I lost my corporate job that would have allowed me to transfer to LA to embark upon that journey.”
Because of the recession, she was unable to find another corporate position and decided to move to Bainbridge Island and live on the property owned by her family. She thought she would work small jobs and spend more time exploring her artistic side, that in turn, led her into photography. “It’s painting with light and a camera, so it was a natural fit for me, as I’ve painted quite a bit. And the visual storytelling aspect of photography was, and is, irresistible to me.”
Deanna’s spent more than a decade building Bainbridge Island Portraits (Deanna Dusbabek Photography), which she noted requires a flexible schedule to accommodate her client’s needs. “I’ve also worked odd jobs in addition to my entrepreneurial endeavors the entire decade plus, so I’ve not really had the time to dedicate to myself alone,” she said. “I’m now taking that time and haven’t signed up any new clients for that reason. I’m still working with repeat clients, however.” In addition to her successful photography business, Deanna has won multiple Portrait Masters awards over the past decade.
Going forward, she plans to spend her days in a “spiritually joyful state”, where art and writing are her main focus. Of course, her new business is work too, but its very different from the portrait/branding and as she told me, “It’s entirely creative without restriction, and that’s my happy place. If I make a living at it or not, that’s not the point. The doing, the making, is what matters to me.”
On the writing side, Deanna plans to continue writing poetry, something she’s been doing since childhood, and perhaps return to some of her older unpublished writings, which include fiction and three screenplays. She also plans on finishing the novel her dad started, which she’s already started working on.
Deanna Dusbabek Art features several categories , such as Collage Art , which explores the timeless ideals of beauty, truth and goodness, as well as deeper themes, and simple expressions of joy and wonder; while her Watercolor Photographs are a hybrid of photography combined with the appearance of a painting and printed on fine art watercolor paper with deckled edges; the Les Fleurs line speaks to her love affair with flowers and “begin with original photographs which are then altered to tell the “story the flower is trying to communicate” and printed on museum quality loose giclée canvas. Through her Curated Collections of Art Cards, Deanna explores the “Poetry of Roses”, whimsey, and inspiration. The postcard style cards are blank on one side and come in packs of 30 with white envelopes (10 cards of each image per 30-pack). Her final collection, the Lifestyle Line reflects her love of fine art, beauty and inspiration through quality crafted throw pillows, serving trays, tote bags, aprons, notebooks, wrapping paper, and more.
All of Deanna’s creations can be found on her website at Deanna Dusbabek Art.
*This article was previously published in Arts & Humanities Bainbridge Currents Online: https://www.bainbridgecurrents.com/stories/art/island-wanderings-photographer-storyteller-and-visual-artist-deanna-dusbabek-on-her-newest-artistic-endeavor-deanna-dusbabek-art/
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