Photo Spotlight

Photographer Spotlight: Danielle Dombrowski

I've admired Danielle Dombrowski's photography work since the '90s, when her shots of hardcore bands like Hatebreed and One King Down seemed to be everywhere. While she's mainly focused on her hair salon business these days, the New Yorker still finds time to shoot shows from time to time. Since I recently found her on Instagram, I reached out to Danielle and invited her to be part of the site's Photographer Spotlight series.

Where were you born and raised, and were your parents into the arts?

I was born and raised in Middletown, NY, the “unknown Orange County” in the music world. My parents were not much into the arts. My father is a hard-working blue-collar worker, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Both were heavily into classic rock and love attending concerts. 

Martyr A.D. at This Is Hardcore, Philadelphia, PA, 2017. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

What was your first musical love?

My very first music love was'80s pop: Madonna, Michael Jackson, the Bangles, Cyndi Lauper, Tiffany, Samantha Fox, etc. As I got into middle school, I started to really love the music I grew up on: classic rock. My favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. My first CD was Black Sabbath's Paranoid. I later evolved into loving '80s hair bands, metal, grunge, some punk, and eventually hardcore, when I became exposed to it in the mid-'90s. I learned a lot about classic rock from my parents and most other stuff through Maximumrocknroll, MTV or friends.

Terror at the Loft Poughkeepsie, NY, 2005. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

My first concert was Biohazard and a local band, ninety9cents, at Sport Land in Middletown, NY, when I was 17. I also shot that concert, as I was a photography student, and my friends asked me to shoot them. I was hooked! I started going to more and shows and meeting more bands along the way. 

Deafheaven at Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park, NY, 2014. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

What is your camera and post set up?

I have always been a Nikon girl. Currently I own 2 bodies — a D750 and an 850 — with several pro lenses and flashes. I post process with a combo of Lightroom classic and Photoshop. 

Cave In at The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY, 2004. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

Who are some of your favorite bands to shoot?

Of course, all the '90s hardcore bands! To list a few: 108, Burn, Converge, Bane, Hatebreed, Madball, Poison the Well, Disembodied, Trial, and any Ray Cappo band! There are so many I couldn’t possibly list them all! With that said, there are a lot of newer bands that are fun to shoot as well, like Code Orange, for example. 

Shelter at This Is Hardcore, Philadelphia, PA, 2017. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

If you could go back in time, who are some bands that you would have loved to shoot?

My number one band that I always miss out on shooting is Quicksand! Hardcore-wise, I woulda loved to shoot Gorilla Biscuits, Chain of Strength, Inside Out, Uniform Choice, Project X, Refused...

If I was born in the 50s, I would have been prime age to shoot Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and many other classic rock bands. I'm also bummed that I missed out on shooting the grunge era. There is something special about the emotion in the music from Pearl Jam and Nirvana!.Rage Against the Machine would have been spectacular to shoot as well. 

Disembodied at the Triple Rock, Minneapolis, MN, 1998. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

What are the toughest aspects to shooting live shows?

Definitely the longevity of some of the shows. Walking around for 6 hours carrying all my camera equipment is no fun. I have ulcerative colitis and beginning of Crohn's disease, so I get dehydrated easily. For a while I had to stop shooting shows for health reasons. Second would be looking out for flying body parts. I have suffered a few concussions in the past from shows, but it was well worth it!

Mouthpiece at Underground Arts Philadelphia, PA, 2016. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

Tell me about some newer bands that we should all be on the lookout for.

I’m really into Code Orange and EgoDestroys lately. I just heard Primitive Weapons for the first time and dig them as well.

Primitive Weapons at Brooklyn Bazaar, Brooklyn, NY, 2018. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

I’m also in love with some newer female-fronted bands such as Apparition and Sharptooth. 

Sharptooth at Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, 2018. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

Who are some modern-day photographers that you admire?

That’s a tough question. Every one of my fellow music photographers deserves a mention, but off the top of my head, I can list a few: JC Carey, Kevin Wilson, Rachael Wass, Todd Pollock, Anne Spina, Matt Miller, Paxton Conners, Catherine Corozza, Bill Bellottie, Rich Zoeller, Robbie Redcheeks, Michelle Olaya, and BDaza. Sorry for those I missed! 

108 at Saint Vitus Brooklyn, NY, 2016. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)

If you had to pick one of your photos that best encapsulates why you love shooting bands/artists, which one would it by and why?

The One King Down shot that I took st Sea Seas in Scranton PA. I feel it captures the energy of the crowd and the emotion Behind Robs Lyrics. Every time I look at that photo I smile and I wish I was back at that show again, in fact I wish every show would have a crowd with the energy that one did, it is rare these days! 

One King Down at Sea Seas, Scranton, PA, circa late '90s. (Photo: Danielle Dombrowski)


See more of Danielle's work on her website, and she's also on Instagram.

Tagged: photographer spotlight