When it comes to 90s hardcore photographers, Danielle Dombrowski is a household name who needs no introduction. Hailing from New York, Danielle has shot hardcore shows and fests all over the northeast and beyond over the last 20+ years. Read on to learn more about Danielle Dombrowski.
1) Where are you from and where do you live now?
Hello, thank you for the interview! I grew up in Middletown, New York about an hour north of Manhattan. Even though I travel often I live only 10 minutes from where I grew up; I’m a bit of a homebody.
Incendiary at Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY (2019)
2) When did you start shooting shows/bands, and what compelled you to start shooting these types of photos?
I kind of fell into it by accident through friends when I was around 16. I was taking a photography class in high school and a friend of a friend was in a band that needed photos. That band was called Ninety 9 Cents from Goshen, NY. I first did some promo photos for them and then shot them live at my first concert ever when they opened for Biohazard at Sport Land in Middletown, New York. I fell in love with the sound and energy and have been addicted ever since.
108 at Brooklyn Bazar, NYC (2019)
3) What has been your go-to gear setup for shooting shows?
I am a Nikon girl through and through. I do respect other companies, I just started with Nikon and grew quite a collection of gear. I feel totally comfortable with all of their equipment. My current bodies are the D850 and D780. My go-to lens is the flagship 24-70mm 2.8. I also use a 16mm fisheye, 20mm, 70-200mm, and 16-35mm, among a few others. For flashes I use SB-5000s.
Bane at The Loft, Poughkeepsie, NY (2011)
4) What's the story on your photo gear getting stolen? I heard the community came together to raise money to help - was that successful? Anything you'd like to say about that experience?
I was in Switzerland visiting my cousin, traveling between Zermatt and Luasanne on a train when my gear bag was swiped off the luggage rack. It happened so fast. When I realized, I was totally in shock and numb. My whole life gear collection was in the bag, as well as my new drone. I lost my trip photos, as well, aside from the ones I transferred from my phone with Wi-Fi.
Aside from owning a hair salon, I also shoot weddings as part of my livelihood so this was a big hit to me. I had also just had kidney surgery.
When I returned from my trip, my friends Brian and Star set up a GoFundMe and the hardcore community raised a little over $5,000! Between that and some insurance money through my wedding photography business I was able to replace close to everything that I lost. I am extremely grateful to all that donated!
It definitely was a humbling experience and made me realize even more why I love hardcore! I honestly feel like the hardcore community as a whole is a group of some pretty fantastic humans! Not just for what they did for me, I have seen it over and over. When anyone of us has a hardship we come together as a unit to help, it’s amazing! I can’t express my full gratitude and words, I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it, thank you again everyone for donating!
Converge at Warsaw, Brooklyn, NY (2017)
5) Is there anything you do to try to stand out from other live show photographers? Do you care about being different from the rest?
Honestly I love being part of the photographer “group.” We are a team; I don’t see it as a competition and don’t do anything to particularly stand apart, I just like to do my thing. I always love to see my fellow friends' photos, especially from the same shows to see another perspective. I love to see how different some photos can be from the same stage between different equipment and creative visions. I can’t speak for my other colleagues but I like to think we all inspire each other!
Earth Crisis at Sea Sea's, Moosic, PA (1990s)
6) Are there any photographers you look up to, admire, or draw inspiration from?
Oh definitely! I have learned a lot from my good friend JC Carey who worked for Nikon for a while. I love the This Is Hardcore team, Anne Spina, Todd Pollock, Jeff Lasich, Rachael Wass, Catherine Carrozza. Of course the infamous Sunny from Hate5Six and BJ Papas! A few other notable names include Carl Gunhouse, Rich Zoeller, Steve Messina, Tim Daley, Bob Peele, Robby Redcheeks... I’m sorry if I’m forgetting anyone! ❤️
Shark Attack and Back to School Jam, New Jersey (2019)
7) If you could go back in time and give yourself any advice about shooting shows when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Definitely to shoot every band that plays every show! You just never know who will need pictures for what even 10 or 20 years later! I stood on the side of the stage before Eminem was famous at Warped Tour and didn’t shoot one photo of him! I’m mad at myself for that!
8) Where do you want to go with photography? Is there anything specific you'd like to shoot moving forward, particularly since we probably won't get to have any live shows until at least 2021?
Photography has always been the fun part of my life. The past few years I’ve done a lot of traveling to places such as Hawaii, Iceland, and Switzerland. I would like to explore more exotic places in the future like the Faroe Islands and the Galapagos, maybe someday more of Europe! For the time being, since there’s a travel ban, I've been shooting a lot of photos of my pets and stuff around my yard, such as hummingbirds and flowers. I can’t wait to get back to shooting some live shows! I feel like there’s a void in my life right now!
9) What music have you been listening to lately?
Believe it or not I listen to mostly classic rock. I can’t get enough Zeppelin in my life! As far as hardcore goes, I’m a 90s girl through and through. I listen to Quicksand, Burn, Hatebreed, Earth Crisis, Trial, VOD, Snapcase, Shelter, Killing Time... I could go on and on!
10) What types of projects are you working on now? Where can people find your work? Anything specific you'd like to promote?
During the COVID shutdown I was working on scanning a lot of older band photos that I shot on film. I posted a lot on my Instagram: @danielledombrowskiphotography
I was approached about doing a book in the future. If I can get around to it, that would be something I would love to promote. For now it will be awesome to gain more Instagram followers if everyone can share and like my profile! Thank you very much for the interview!
See more of Danielle's work here: