Jessica Deeks captures emotion through photography

The Westboro-based photographer created a community
portrait series on display at Urban Art Collective.

Jessica poses for a photo next to a wall with her photos on display.
Jessica Deeks photographed 101 community members. Their portraits are now on display at Urban Art Collective. Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Charlie Senack

For Jessica Deeks, photography is a way to capture a moment in time. 

The Westboro-based commercial and editorial photographer, who specializes in portraits, graduated from Algonquin College in 2010 and hasn’t put her camera down since. 

“I just love working with people. I think it’s very interactive. You get to meet people from all walks of life,” Deeks said. “It’s a little bit different than just shooting architecture or products. I like having conversations. It’s always something new. always a different experience.”

On June 17, Deeks unveiled a new community art portrait series at Hintonburg’s Urban Art Collective. She was approached a few months prior by founders Lindsay and Jay Machinski, her former professor, about creating a black and white display. 

“The idea I had was to make it interactive. We decided to have people doodle on a piece of paper which I then photographed,” Deeks said. “I took photos of them which I overlayed and merged together in photoshop.” 

In all, 101 different community members were photographed. Some of the final results were more serious while others were playful. 

In one image, a woman was photographed with her arms out with a drawing of two cats in the front. In another, a woman can be seen doing a pirouette with an artistic rendering of her younger self. 

Each subject had the chance to create their own unique image.

“I wanted it to be a lighthearted, inner-kid kind of project,” Deeks said. “I didn’t want it to be too serious. I wanted people to have a lot of creativity with it and show what they wanted in their portraits.”

A large black and white mural created out of the exhibition will be a permanent display at Urban Art Collective. Deeks said over 100 hours of work went into the final design. 

Throughout her career, Deeks has had the opportunity to photograph many prominent individuals including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon. She’s also captured Olympians with their medals and the Supreme Court at work. 

The flexibility to work with a variety of clients and environments is what keeps the job challenging and fun. 

“Over time your name gets around and you’re lucky enough to hopefully find some big clients,” she said. “I’m really grateful because any freelance or creative kind of career can be rather competitive. The Ottawa community is really supportive of each other.” 

Deeks spent the final part of summer unwinding from a busy few months and is now brainstorming where to point her camera lens next. 

“I’m going to take a little break but I’m always working. As far as personal projects go, we will see what the next one is,” she said.

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