Today I am going to chat with my friend Danielle about film photography. I am excited to get the chance to bend her ear. We became friends on instagram because we have a lot in common, and I don’t just mean our love of felines. I think like myself, she has an eye for all things vintage, especially cameras. So let’s get right into it.
AVCA: Hey Danielle! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
DW: You’re very welcome!
AVCA: Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.
DW: I’m a photographer based out of Wisconsin. I shoot primarily film, 35mm and 120. I tripped into photography purely by accident almost three years ago now, and I have way, way too many cameras.
DW: It has basically become my whole life now. It’s everything to me, it’s how I see the world around me. When I found that AE-1 at the thrift store, I had no idea just how much photography would end up taking over my life. It’s given me a completely different way of seeing my world and everything in it. It’s so much a part of who I am now, I almost don’t know what I did before I became a photographer.
AVCA: Absolutely. I feel the same way.
You’re known on Instagram as the self named Girl With Too Many Cameras. Like myself you love vintage cameras. Was it sparked by that first Canon AE-1? Did it start out as a collection or did you always want to shoot with them?
DW: It was definitely all because of the AE-1. Before I tripped across that camera I never thought about photography or cameras before, never crossed my mind. I guess it was just meant to be though. I saw that Canon at the thrift store and it was like I was hit with a lightening bolt, love at first sight. It was just the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and I just knew in that moment I needed to buy it and learn how to use it. After getting that camera I just became obsessed. I wanted to learn about other cameras, how they worked, and what kind of images they would produce as well.
AVCA: Yes. That is exactly how I feel. A lot of people say that gear means nothing it should only be about the photograph, but you have shown that that is absolutely not the case. Your work is beautiful even with using so many different cameras.
I have to ask, how many cameras do you own? How many is too many?
DW:Wow thank you so much
Well I stopped counting after I hit 40. Though I will say I don’t think I’ve strayed too far past that number so I’m somewhere near that still. Too many is when I look up from my computer and I can readily see at least 13 of them scattered across my living room and I have to seriously debate about which I would want to shoot next. It’s a constant struggle.
AVCA: HAHA yes I feel that struggle myself.
Do you have a favorite?
DW: I want them all to get equal love at the same time! It’s so hard. As for a favorite, it changes. I tend to have a favorite of the moment and then I’ll switch. Right now I’m really digging my new Bronica ETR. It just everything I’ve wanted from a medium format. I also really love my Nikon N80, the metering is just spot on and that Nikkor glass is so sharp. And of course, my original Canon AE-1 will always hold a soft spot in my heart as well.
AVCA: I always like to ask this, because for me photography is often an expression of something I am feeling in the moment and that also goes for some of my cameras. A lot of them come from friends, or family that are gone, so they hold an emotional attachment for me. Do you have any cameras from a family member or that have an emotional attachment?
DW: To be honest, I really don’t. Almost my whole collection are cameras I got from thrifting or eBay deals. I do have the Minolta Maxxum 7000i that was my parent’s family camera growing up and that’s pretty much it. However, I have been on a quest to find two family cameras I know exist but no one can seem to find. My dad used to shoot a Minolta XD-11 back in the day. He still has it but hasn’t been able to find it yet in all of our storage. Also he has the folding Kodak camera my grandma shot on in the 40’s but that too is lost somewhere in storage. Each time I come home to visit I also ask to go searching for them. I’m going to hold out hope one day we’ll find them and I can bring them back to life.
AVCA: That is awesome. I hope you can find them. It puts a whole new meaning behind your photography. At least it has for me.
DW: Yes! I especially want that folding Kodak. My grandma passed before I could meet her and I think that would be such an amazing way for us to finally connect.
AVCA: That really is. I love thinking about what the camera saw in the past or who held it. Thats part of what keeps me collecting them, and for you to know it was your grandmother makes it really special.
DW: I completely agree.
AVCA: I love your architecture shots around town. I have called you the queen of light because all of your color work catches the light so beautifully. What do you look for when taking these photos of old homes and buildings? What catches your eye?
DW: Oh man, that’s such a great question. I ask myself that sometimes too. I don’t even really know how to describe it. I just shoot any scene that makes me stop and be in awe of the beauty of what I’m seeing.
AVCA: Who or what would you say influences your photography the most?
DW: Hmmm, I’m not sure if I think of it as influencing, maybe more so inspiring me. I would say I’m most inspired by all of the friends I’ve met in the photography world and just the beauty of the world around me. Every day when I log into Instagram and I see the beautiful work my friends are posting I just feel so motivated to get out and keep creating. And same with the world. The most inspiring thing to me is a beautiful day with a bright sunny sky. It just makes me want to be outdoors, exploring, and taking photos.
AVCA: You’ve made the trek down to Zion which is every landscape photographers dream. Can you tell us about that experience?
DW: Oh boy yeah what an experience! It was amazing. I went with my mother, who’s also a photographer. We’re just honestly the best pair. She always gets annoyed traveling with other people cause they never want to stop and let her photograph. And same with me. So we’re perfect together. We both know that we need time to snap our photos. As for Zion, we only got two days in the park but it was incredible. We hiked almost 18 miles the first day, and slightly less the second because our feet were so sore. I took I think 12 rolls of film, and most came out pretty decent. The most magical for me was shooting the sunset. Watching the sun slowly go down behind the mountains and see the brilliant array of colors in the sky was just breathtaking. At the same time though I was still learning so much about film and photography at that point, I kind of wish I could go back now and shoot again!
AVCA: Wow. That sounds like an amazing experience and to do it with your mom made it all the more special I am sure. Does she shoot film as well?
DW: She doesn’t, she shoots digital. I think she had to shoot only film for so much of her life that she’s kind of “been there, done that”
AVCA: I get it. That is so awesome though to get to share that with her.
DW: Yeah! It’s another amazing benefit of tripping into photography. I get to share this awesome hobby with my mom now too and bond over it.
AVCA: I love that.
I am hoping to interview a lot of the women in the film photography community to show that we are out there. It is a very male dominated community and I have personally found it to be a little rough getting people to take me seriously, or to even give me the time of day. Have you had any trouble with this?
DW: Yes, yes, yes. Definitely yes. It’s getting better though, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have really stopped interacting with the photography groups on Facebook. They seem to be a large breeding ground for sexism. There was one particularly large film photography group on Facebook that I basically got chased out of. There were some very creepy male photographers that kept just posting gross comments and “male-gaze” type of photos. Whenever I’d point out that was very alienating for female photographers I would just get harassed mercilessly. I got so many hate filled messages I just had to leave those groups altogether. Instagram seems to be a lot better, much more a sense of community. But I still just get so, so disheartened at the lack of female representation in this field. So many of the big names on YouTube and Instagram are men, and it makes me feel so alone.
AVCA: Yes. Exactly how I feel. Thats why I am doing this series of interviews. Even though my platform is pretty small, I just feel such a need for it.
DW: There is a HUGE need for female representation
AVCA: From what I’ve seen you are a champion for women’s rights. You even have a website called UnShushed.com where you feature prominent women in history. Tell us a little about that.
DW: Oh goodness I’ve really fallen off the wagon of keeping that up though!
AVCA: Thats ok. It’s still out there. There’s a lot on there that I hadn’t known about.
DW: Well I started that website just before I tripped into film photography. Outside of photography, I have also been super into history and feminism. So much of history has been written by the standpoint of men, and so not surprisingly they tend to leave out all the women who have made very valuable and important contributions to our society. I think it’s important to correct that.
AVCA: I agree. I love history, but like you said everything is very male dominated.
Are you working on any projects or anything you’d like to tell us about before we conclude?
DW: Sure! I guess nothing super groundbreaking or outside of the box, but here in Wisconsin we only get a few decent months that aren’t freezing cold or ungodly hot and humid. So right now it’s my mission to go to hiking in a state park every weekend before the snow sets in and photograph my travels, and the beauty of Wisconsin.
AVCA: Oh wow. I look forward to seeing that. Will you be making a zine?
DW: That’s a really good question, and a number of people of asked me that. To be honest, it’s not something I’ve really considered. I tend to have a bit of imposter syndrome and a zine just feels like something a much more professional photographer would do and not me. And also I have no idea about printing. But maybe I’ll buck up the courage and try to figure out how the heck to do that.
AVCA: Yea think about it. I think there’s a big difference having someones work in person.
Well, thank you so much for chatting with me. I always look forward to seeing your work when I log on to Instagram. It’s truly inspiring.
DW: Thank you so so much Aly! This was so fun and I’m so honored you asked me. I love your blog and your channel so much, and I always get excited to see what new cameras you will be featuring.
AVCA: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Be sure to check out Danielles work on instagram. You won’t be disappointed.
Also, if you know of any female film photographers and/or lovers of vintage cameras that may like to be featured here, let me know in the comments. I really enjoy doing these interviews. I have several great guys in my queue coming soon, but I’d love to find some more women out there.