Danielle Wrobleski: A Girl With Too Many Cameras and A Passion to Empower
Danielle Wrobleski may have plenty of film cameras, but what she has more of is the ability to uplift and empower other women in the film photography community. She is not only talented in her own work, but when she started the #WomenWithFilmWednesday hashtag, it caught on faster then light travel on social media platforms. Danielle has started writing a series of articles for Casual Photophile that will highlight some of her favorite female film photographers every month. She is truly making waves in the film photography community. Multi-talented and ambitious, I can’t wait to see what else she will accomplish!
Danielle, where are you from?
I currently reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
How did you get into film photography?
I tripped into film photography completely by accident. Just over three years ago I happened upon a pristine Canon AE-1 at my local thrift store for $10. I didn’t know anything about photography and at the time I didn’t know what an AE-1 was, but it looked so beautiful and I figured why not grab it for ten bucks and have a little fun. Now it’s completely taken over my life with a collection of about 40 cameras.
What was your first camera? Do you still have it?
Well, I grew up shooting film as that’s all there was for photography in the 90’s. My very very first camera as a little girl was a hot pink point and shoot camera that I absolutely adored. My family has long since gotten rid of that camera though. As for my first film camera that sparked my serious interest in it as an adult, that was a Canon AE-1 and I will never give that away. I have other cameras now that are better, have more features but whenever I shoot that AE-1 it takes me back to when I first started shooting a few years ago and how magical it felt.
In a digital world, why do you shoot film?
Like a lot of people, I shoot film because I like the limitations. I like having only 36 shoots per roll (or 12 if it’s 120). It makes me focus on what I really want to shoot and makes me really take time to make sure I have my framing and composition correct. Also I love the colors and the look. My film photos always come out looking a lot closer to what I envision than my digital photos. My digital photos always require LOTS of post editing and that drives me a little nuts.
If you could photograph any location in the world, where would it be and why? What film would you bring?
Oh boy! That’s a tough one to answer. Two of my biggest passions are photography and hiking, which I love to combine. Beyond that my mother is also a photographer who loves to hike so some of my most memorable photo experiences have been our photo-hiking excursions together. We’ve gone on a number of trips together to several National Parks so far, but it’s my dream to fit in as many as I can with her. The next ones up on our list are Yosemite, Denali, and Glacier National Parks. As for the film I’d bring, I’d probably take some 400 ISO color and black and white films so I could photograph in all manner of light and scenarios. My defaults for those tend to be Portra 400 and Tri-X.
Who has been an inspiration to you and your work? Or who is your favorite photographer? (Of any time period) What is it about their work that makes them your favorite?
I know it’s an absolute cliche to say, but I really admire Ansel Adams. As I mentioned I love hiking and photographing, and his landscapes are just the quintessential nature photographs to me. I also really love Fred Herzog. His urban photographs have inspired me to capture the city I live in as well. And as many would probably say, I LOVE Vivian Maier. Her ability to capture everyday life moments of people on the street while also making them look cinematic is beyond any other I’ve seen.
What is your favorite part about the process of shooting film?
My favorite part of the process is the actual photograph taking. The strolling around, hunting out scenes, and the moment you see a composition and just think “That’s it right there!” is so fun to me. I also love the anticipation of waiting to get my film developed and getting to see if they actually turned out the way I hoped.
What is your dream camera?
Oh man, I don’t know if I really have a dream camera. For a while I really wanted a 6x4.5 medium format camera which I luckily acquired this summer with my purchase of a Bronica ETR. I’ve absolutely fallen head over heels for that camera, and I just love shooting it. It produces the exact type of images I’ve been hoping to take. I also think it would be fun to get a 6x6 SLR so maybe a Bronica SQ-A or Hasselblad is somewhere in my future.
Have you ever had a scary or alarming experience shooting film? OR do you have any funny or embarrassing experiences while shooting film?
Unfortunately, as a woman shooting film in an urban area I’ve had a number of scary encounters. I frequently get followed or harassed when I’m trying to take photos around the city. The scariest and most frequent occurrence was just back in November, a man in a truck started harassing and following me down the street. I tried to go down several different streets to lose him but he just kept following me. I eventually had to literally out run him to get away. That really shook me up a bit.
If you could give advice to a new film photographer, what would you say? Or what is the best advice you have been given?
I would say don’t waste your money on one of the trendy cameras. Just a basic SLR like a Minolta SRT or Yashica FX, etc. will do the trick as you are learning. Focus on understanding the exposure triangle and study other photographers to build your eye for framing and composition.
I love what you do on social media to empower and highlight other female film photographers. Tell me more about your hashtag and what made you create this?
Well it kinda came about completely by accident (maybe that should be the motto for my life!). One day I was on social media and saw a poll someone created asking who are your favorite film photographers on YouTube. And every single choice listed were men. There were no women to choose. And this happens a lot in the film community. The photographers that are frequently promoted or held up as the best tend to be all men, and the women who are equally talented are left out of those conversations. So on a whim I screenshot the poll and put it up on my Instagram with a little discussion of why women need to be included in these conversations and then listed the very talented women I follow for people to check out. I didn’t think much of it, I was just doing it on an impulse. It ended up exploding a bit, and hundreds of people messaged me and shared similar thoughts on their profiles. It made me realize how important it is to have this a part of our regular discussions. I didn’t want the moment to just be a flash in the pan and just fade away after a few days so the #WomenWithFilmWednesday came to me as a way for us all to take a moment every week to recognize the enormously talented women in this community who often do not get enough recognition for their work.
How can people find you online?
I’m primarily on Instagram and my handle is @girlwithtoomanycameras