Danielle Hanlon is a Film Club Member whose photos are vibrant and capture a variety of subjects. This week we wanted to get to know her more and understand what she is inspired by when photographing. Scroll down to see a selection of her images and read our interview with her.
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
DH: It was only about two years ago that I started shooting on film! I’ve been practicing photography as a hobby for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2020 when a few other people I was close to started using using film that I decided I wanted to give it a try too. I loved the aesthetic and the life that film brought to the photos I was into. Once I got my first camera, I got sucked in pretty quickly and I haven't looked back.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
DH: I primarily shoot with my Canon AE1 and most often use Kodak film. Kodak Ultramax is my go-to but i’ll also like Gold. If I’ll be honest, film is getting expensive these days so more often than not I’m using whatever is cheapest and most readily available. (The expired film section of thrift stores has served me well in the last few weeks.)
PL: The variety of environments captured within this collection is nice to see. It seems you always have a camera with you whether you are inside, surrounded by nature or walking through city streets. Is there a certain environment that inspires you more to take photos in?
DH: I think the area I’m most inspired in is definitely the city! The one thing I’ve learned since living in Philadelphia is that no two blocks will ever look or feel the same. There are so many people, places, and things to see and so many ever changing environments. In a matter of minutes a whole city block can completely change based on how the light has moved. There’s so much going on a times it can feel overwhelming. Using film in the city has helped me become more contemplative in life about the meaningful moments I may be missing amongst the chaos. It’s allowed me to meditate on the beautiful things I can find on every street if I look hard enough.
PL: You mentioned that these photos, for you, capture a dream-like feeling. What draws you to this style of imagery? What are some general aspects of these photos that you feel exemplifies this feeling?
DH: What makes these images feel dream-like to me is that the whole context is never truly given. Often time there is one person, place, or thing that draws the focus and begs the viewer to ask themselves where the story may go or where it has gone. It feels like a single snapshot of a larger story or perhaps a single snapshot from a dream you cant entirely remember…
I think the slight blur of some subjects, the brilliant and sometimes radiant light, and the warm, soft colors help exemplify this feeling.
I’m drawn to this style because I’m drawn to the moments themselves. Whether it be a feeling of nostalgia, comfort, yearning, or something else, I use my gut to tell me what moments feel right and worth shooting. It’s not until I’m looking back at my photos after they’ve been processed that I can think about or recognize why I was interested in my subjects originally.
PL: You also described that your approach to taking photos is spontaneous. What do you enjoy about this way of taking pictures? What is challenging about it?
DH: I enjoy taking photos spontaneously because it allows me to observe and react to the world almost like a little kid would. Kids have this natural ability to find fascination in everyday things. That same kind of fascination and whimsy is what helps me and reminds me that there’s so much beauty in the ordinary.
The only challenge I see with shooting spontaneously is missing the moments I want to capture the most. Sometimes life moves to quickly and I can’t get my camera out on time or don’t have my camera on me. I just have to remember that there will be other moments like that one in the future. Sometimes it brings me comfort to think that the moment was meant for my eyes only.
PL: Out of all of these photos which is your favorite and why?
DH: I think my favorite photo out of this group is “Commute”. It’s my favorite photo because I love the way the subject was framed within the reflection of the subway car window. I think it creates a “tunnel vision” effect that makes the person in the car seem more alone. For me at least, the whole image makes me wonder who they are, where they’re going, and maybe what they're thinking about.
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