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Sandy Lake resident’s photography carries on a family tradition

Nature photographer Deb Maluk’s mother and grandmother were also avid photographers

Deb Maluk showcases photo tiles among craft mart exhibitors.

Imagination, patience, people skills and passion have lifted the art of photography to lofty heights for Deb Maluk of Sandy Lake.

It must run in her blood.

“I have been into photography forever. My maternal grandmother loved taking pictures, as did my mother,” said Maluk. “The image of my grand- mother with the camera around her neck, looking down into the viewfinder and snapping away, is as vivid today as yesterday.”

Thanks to the two women, Maluk has boxes of beautiful, black and white pictures of family, friends and farm life back in the day.

When she got into photography, Maluk was more inspired by nature — landscapes and birds. This didn’t sit too well with her mother.

“Mom was often a little frustrated looking at my pictures, often asking, ‘but where are the people?’” Maluk said.

But it was through the outdoors that Maluk connected with her father, a former postmaster in Sandy Lake. Nature walks with her dad brought many fascinating philosophical discussions about life, work, people and nature. Spending hours walking to and canoeing on Beaufort Lake was like spending time in an outdoor class- room for Maluk — classes enriched by the sights, sounds and scents of the birds, woods and water.

The beautiful settings brought forth adventure but also developed Maluk’s passion for birds and natural landscapes.

Maluk’s work was featured in a local weekly newspaper, but it took awhile for her talent to move beyond the newsprint page. At first, Maluk felt the positive feedback was only given out of kindness.

“Over time, I thought more about it and decided to try and put my work out into the world,” said Maluk. “It was a little scary, as photography gives me so much comfort and joy.”

Looking back to her first craft sale in Sandy Lake, Maluk shared that a lot of people expressed disbelief that she’d taken the pictures on display. It gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling.

“When looking at my sunset pictures they said, ‘Oh so that’s why you spend so much time at Beaufort Lake,’” Maluk said.

Her work is sold under the name “Debonart” (a play on debonair), as prior to selling her photographs, Maluk was involved in stained glass.

At Shoal Lake’s craft mart, photo greeting cards and photo tiles attracted onlookers and buyers. Maluk also sells the greeting cards at a local salon, and hopes to reach larger audiences by getting her art into other shops across Manitoba.

It’s a big step for Maluk, who enjoys the solace of being alone outdoors.

In fact, it was Sandy Lake’s park-like setting and outdoor recreation that drew Maluk back to her hometown. She was raised in the community, but after graduation Maluk spent 19 years in Winnipeg. She had a little epiphany after hearing herself say “home” when referring to Sandy Lake to her city friends. Maluk came back to the peaceful town after her father passed away in 1995 so she could support her mom.

Maluk found the natural setting eased her tendency to overthink and worry, a trait she said she inherited from her father. For Maluk, each day brings new beautiful moments. The sunsets, clouds, night sky and the sweet melody of birds are her motivation for true happiness, and state of fulfilment.

Maluk said she has learned, in terms of goals, that “There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.”

Backing up what she says, Maluk is reaching her personal goals one shutter click at a time.

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