Danielle Hughson is a wonderful photographer who I found on flickr, admired immensely from afar for a while, and then she became one of my kindest flickr contacts! What drew me to Danielle at first was her awesome pet portraits, a favorite subject of mine. (Her day job is as a veterinarian in Portland.) I also found her around the time I acquired my Hasselblad, and anyone who has seen her stream knows she makes hers positively sing! Without further ado, may I present our conversation…
What is your style?
Oh, wow, what a question. It’s hard to step back from this question and be an objective observer, as I pretty much just make images of whatever (and whenever) I want. Most of my images are square and make use of shallow depth of field. I’d like to say that many of them have a particular “mood” to them, or even an emotion, and that my best ones are all about the light – telling a story, with the light.
What inspires you?
Beauty, of course. I find this in the outdoors, in people, in the expressions of animals, in the tenacity and frailty of flowers. I am inspired by what moves me, and I am easily moved by many things. I can get so excited over the simplest details! There’s a giddy, almost childish joy that strikes me at times, when something is beautiful is to me. And when that happens, I feel the need to record, illustrate, create… and share this feeling with others, through my images.
What is your favorite photographic subject?
Landscapes, hands down. Nature is certainly my greatest inspiration… how can you not feel deeply moved, when you’re standing in an alpine meadow, wildflowers licking at your heels, a mountain towering in the background, the wind singing as it moves through the evergreens? Or when you’re perched at the edge of a coastal cliff, time suspended on the crash of the waves below? Photography is so easily an extension, or a companion, to my love of hiking and camping and exploring. Lately, I’ve been particularly enamored by the inclusion of people in my landscapes, which I think grounds the images a bit better and lends them a sense of memory and wistfulness.
How did you find your way into photography?
I first picked up a camera around the age of 12 (a slim little 110 camera), on my parents’ farm in Iowa, and have been photographing ever since. I lost touch with film during my college years, but was lucky enough to fall in with a strong analog crowd when I moved to the West Coast five years ago. Based originally in 35mm, I slowly accumulated a small family of 120 cameras: a Zero Image pinhole, a Holga, and the love of my life: a Hasselblad. Now it seems like nearly all my time outside of work is spent either photographing or editing photographs, and that “seeing” as a photographer permeates nearly every aspect of my life (this is a good thing).
Why do you love film photography?
I’m in love with the depth that film offers, especially the medium formats. There’s something that is just more tangible about those photographs. Of course, there’s also the process… there’s an element of nostalgic romanticism involved in the loading and unloading of a roll of film, in the manual adjustment of aperture and shutter speed, and of course in that (seemingly endless at times) period of waiting between the click of the shutter and the print in my hand. Film forces me to think more, as each and every frame counts. And when I’m thinking more, I’m seeing better, deeper, into the nature of things. There’s a connection that I end up making with a place or a subject that doesn’t seem to exist, at least for me, with digital. Lastly, and this is entirely sentimental, but here it is: I love the fact that film actually absorbs and records light. A fellow photographer brought this thought up years ago, and he’s right: I like to think of those negatives actually containing light itself, recorded and remembered forever, fragments of encapsulated time. Photography is all about documenting the moments, the light, the essence of a place… and those negatives do so in a way that goes beyond digital sensors.
Share with us a favorite recent photo?
Here’s one that’s getting printed big someday:
Share with us one of your all time most proud photos?
I would be hard pressed to name my “best” photo, as this is entirely subjective. Even naming my personal favorite would be hard (there are currently 165 of my personal favorites in a set on Flickr). However, I do have photos that were taken at crucial times in my development as a photographer. This one in particular comes to mind:
It was made a number of years ago, when I was just starting to borrow a Hasselblad for occasional trips out. Not only do I remember standing in that exact spot, with a damp, mossy forest quietly exhaling around me, but I remember the moment that I saw the resulting print, and was nearly knocked of my feet by the depth, color and mood. There was no turning back at that point. It’s been three years now since I made that image, and I’m just as in love with medium format as I was on that day… I dare say more so.
What would your superpower be?
I’ve actually discussed this before with friends. It can be non-photography related, right? If so, then my superpower is the ability to fall asleep. That sounds silly, but it’s so very true… regardless of place, regardless of whether I’m tired or not, I can lay my head down and be asleep within minutes. Every. Single. Time. And I dream every night: vivid, interesting, colorful dreams. Perhaps some of these make themselves known in my photography?
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Danielle!