The New York-based photographer talks about selling ice-cream in Queens, dodging creative blocks and why she looks at the world through puddle reflections
Danielle Guelbart currently resides in New York but she travels around a lot. Her photos range from the eerie and bombastic to the down home and familiar. They seem to capture a sort of magic, she has a lot on her flickr and her tumblr. And not only is Danielle a great photographer, she's a damn good artist as well.
Dazed Digital: Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
Danielle Guelbart: Before moving to Nassau County, I spent my early childhood in the predominantly Polish neighborhood of Maspeth in Queens, NY. Sometimes during the Summer my two sisters and I would sell iced tea on the corner of our block. I remember one summer we were selling iced tea with a little Polish girl from the neighborhood. No one was buying any and I had no idea why. Later on my mom told that it was because she was yelling "ICED PEE! Get your iced PEE here!"
DD: At what point did you first start to feel really creative?
Danielle Guelbart: I've always loved to draw. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't drawing or making something.
DD: How do you like living in New York? Where do you hang out? Whats the craziest thing to ever happen to you there?
Danielle Guelbart: I love living here. It's impossible to have nothing to do in or around the city. I'm just as inspired by it as I am by nature, both are pretty easily accessible and that's nice. If I'm not busy with something, I'm getting into crazy antics to entertain myself. I was walking down the street with a friend of mine one time and we passed by a shop that was selling children's Halloween costumes. We bought this ridiculous sheep dog costume that she put on. We walked around town while I took photos of her in it. People gave us the funniest looks but we were too busy recreating that token scene from breakfast at Tiffany's, sans the beehive plus the fleas.
DD: Do you still draw a lot? What do you do to find inspiration?
Danielle Guelbart: As long as I'm expressing myself creatively, I'm happy. I like to paint, snap photos and write crappy prose. Sometimes I feel creatively blocked in one area so I resort to another medium. Painting is and always will be my first passion. Half the time I'm looking at the world through puddle reflections, phosphenes and sunlight that streams through venetian blinded windows at noontime.
I find inspiration in those things. I'm inspired by simple things like night-time symphonies of Summertime crickets and the way Winter breath churns to frost. I'm inspired by nature just as much as city life. There are so many inspiring and creative people in this world and I try to surround myself with those people. It motivates me to create.
DD: What inspires you to pick up a camera in this day and age where there are so many other photographers?
Danielle Guelbart: There are so many things that inspire me. There are so many beautiful moments that I want to photograph, to live forever on film. I guess I don't get deterred that there are so many other people doing the same thing. I don't think of it like that. I take photos because I need to capture these things, because I want a moment to exist for longer than its brief lifespan.
DD: Who are some of your favourite visual artists?
Danielle Guelbart: Some painters and illustrators that inspire me are Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, Jillian Tamaki and Sam Bosma. Some of my favorite photographers illustrate stories with their photos that have such natural fluidity, much like a painter would. A few of them are: Jon Estwards, Aela Labbe, Margaret Durow, Annette Pehrsson, Neil Krug, Samuel Pritzker, Michela Heim.
DD: What are some roadtrips and adventures you've been on? Where would you like to go next?
Danielle Guelbart: I've been to many wonderful places and I love snapping photos along the way. Recently I took a trip up the East coast and stayed just past Boston. I had a chance to photograph the Autumn coast along the way. There's nothing in this world quite like a New England Autumn.
It's so beautiful and inspiring. It means hot toddies and a cool night breeze, the smell of fire logs burning and the crunch of fallen leaves. It always feels like a new beginning. Before that, I took a trip to the mid west. I brought my camera with me so I was able to capture the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania and vast cornfields in Indiana. I'd love to go to Iceland. I'd love to see the Northern Lights.
DD: What are some of your goals for 2012?
Danielle Guelbart: Lately I've been painting on some of my prints with 16k gold and silver mediums. I want to develop that a bit more and I hope to create a series of these prints. I've been weaving geometric and concentric shapes like dream catchers into some of my paintings with threads and yarn. I hope to develop that a bit more in this coming year.
DD: Who are some of your favorite local photographers that deserve a shout-out?
Danielle Guelbart: Scott Young is a Colorado native who lived in New York for awhile. He takes some of the most beautiful photos of the sunlight that paints the noontime walls. Jeff Gehres takes lovely photos that are sometimes so minimal but so perfect and powerful within the simplicity of their minimalism.
DD: Do you have any advice for other people with cameras snapping pictures?
Danielle Guelbart: Don't second guess yourself and don't over think things but do take just a second to frame your photo right. Often times, the hardest part about anything is getting started. You'll never take photos if you're always hesitating and waiting for that 'perfect moment'. Some of the best works of art are stumbled upon accidentally. Sometimes inspiration comes after from those 'accidents'.