Wait…what? Photo tips, on a photographer’s blog? Yep!

With D1 coming up, I just wanted to share a few things about shooting roller derby. First and foremost, I shoot derby because I love it. I want you to see what I see and I want you to feel what I feel. Photography is the only way that I can do that – words just aren’t enough.

Speaking of D1, I’m pretty excited to be shooting for Derby Central in Dallas in a few weeks. My goal is to shoot all 16 games…I will sleep when I’m dead. I’m nervous as hell because, what if I fuck it up? I had the same feeling about Sweat Fest and that seemed to go okay. Fingers crossed. I am never nervous about playing derby – give me that star hat all day and I’ll jam my little heart out. Put me in turn two with a camera with Texas and Rose City on the track, I’ll freak the fuck out.

So, tips, right? By the way, these are tips based on how I shoot…we all have our own preferences and opinions. This is what works for me.

First off, please always remember that shooting derby is a privilege on both sides. Skaters put a lot into every game…hours of practice and putting our bodies on the line for sport. Photographers put a lot into it as well…it’s not just time spent over in turn two (or wherever I’m posted), I spend hours sorting through photos and editing each one to perfection.

Know the game. Learn the rules. I have experimented with giving cameras to skaters this season…with great results. When you get to know the game, you can see what’s going to happen. Yes, I can sometimes predict the apex jump, but I just watch it and rarely get the shot. Because it’s a bloody apex jump!

Know your teams. If you’re shooting your home team, you know who to watch. I typically switch between jammers on the flat track and pivots on the banked track. Shooting new teams? YouTube has tons of video footage! Before I shot Sweat Fest, I watched footage of all of the teams that were competing. I wanted to be familiar with the skaters and how they play…but, most importantly, I wanted to make sure that I got the angle that I wanted. Turn two is my default to get started and I typically adjust from there, depending on how the game goes.

Pick your spot. A lot of photographers like to move around. I’m lazy. I like turn two, but sometimes I like to shoot from in the middle. If you’re gonna shoot in the middle, be careful. Most refs know that you’re there and they stay out of your box….some crowd the box. I have had some near misses with referees in the middle. Try it standing or sitting, play with your angles. I use two different lenses with derby – on the outside of the track, I use the 70-200mm, inside is my trusty 24-70mm.

Settings? Play with it. I adjust my shutter speed and ISO depending on the light. I do not use a strobe. If it’s too dark where I’m shooting, I put a flash on my camera. I like my f-stop at 2.8. Oh, but I fought that for the longest time. Then I learned how to use it and now it’s magical and I can’t do without it. So, the short answer is…no, you don’t have to run out and buy strobes to shoot roller derby. You can, but do you really want to lug all of that equipment? I don’t.

Last point here is editing…find what works for you. I am an anti-PhotoShop photographer. Okay, I use it to place my watermark and re-size my photos for the web…but that’s it, honest. I do all of my real editing in LightRoom. I do a quick run through of photos and find the best ones to edit first. I will go through each set several times before I’ve decided that I got everything that I wanted out of it. It might take some extra time, but I treat every photo as an individual and edit it to stand on its own. I may only post 20 or so photos from each game, but I have scrutinized every inch of those photos. No, I won’t post all of the photos that I took at a game. I only pick the best ones….because I put my name on them.

Okay, that’s all I got. Cross your fingers that I don’t fuck it up at D1.

It’s taken a few days to decompress after this trip. So, here’s the rundown…

Friday – long ass car ride from Austin to New Orleans…quick jaunt to Bourbon Street. Lots of whiskey and some fun stuff. Fell off a trolly, did not die.

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Texas v. Philly – Sweat Fest 2017

Saturday – hangover. Breakfast at the Ruby Slipper – best damn Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had in my life. Get the Eggs Cochon. Grabbed my camera and a little hair of the dog in the courtyard at India House, then a quick stop for coffee at Monkey Monkey and I was only five minutes late for my 9:45 call time. Followed Texas around for a bit and hung out in the locker room before I took my spot in turn 2 to shoot the first game at noon (Texas v. Philly). Shot a total of four games – but I watched as much as I shot. Because, um, these are some of the best skaters I have ever seen…and you better believe I tried some of that stuff at practice on Wednesday. Texas played two awesome games. The lighting was a perfect mix of hot and cool – it was pretty magical. I totally geeked out over the light…you have no idea. I’m still pretty excited about that lighting. Then there was the fucking burrito. Juan’s Flying Burrito – that was some serious shit.

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Texas v. Rose City – Sweat Fest 2017

Sunday – no hangover, no call time. Blueberry muffin and coffee at Monkey Monkey then I rolled in around ten and parked my fat ass in turn 2 for Philly v. Dallas. I love Dallas…I mean, Anita Riot, for Pete’s sake. The lighting was a bit different for Sunday. Not as magical, but it was still awesome. Kudos to UNO for that lighting situation all weekend. Rose City had two games. I love me some Rose City – not as much as Texas – but they’re pretty neat. Turn 2 was not an option for their first game – I had to hang out in turn 1 to get the best shots. I went back to turn 2 for their game against Texas. I split my time on the outside and inside. Side note – I am probably not going to shoot on the inside unless I know the refs. There were a couple of refs who kept crowding my box and I was not happy about that. I missed a few shots because I had to get out of the way. Then again, the box was in a different spot, so maybe they weren’t used to it. It was still really annoying. Texas and Rose closed out the tournament and it was the best game I have ever seen. Another burrito from Juan’s and lots of photo editing.

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Texas v. Rose City – Sweat Fest 2017

Monday – Long ass car ride back to Austin…reunited with doggo, who actually behaved while I was gone. Then lots and lots of photo editing.

Found out this week that I’ll be shooting with Texas for D1 in Dallas in September. So, that’s pretty cool. Given the new WFTDA guidelines, I didn’t have to apply, which made me nervous because my chances were not as good as some others. Now I don’t have to apply, but I can only shoot Texas. Fine by me. I know that some other photographers are upset about the new guidelines, but the guidelines seem totally reasonable to me. I mean, I still get to shoot Texas. Bummer that I won’t shoot Victorian unless they play Texas…but I can still watch. At the end of the day, I shoot derby because I love it. I want you to see what I see. I want you to feel what I feel. Roller Derby is magical and that’s all I want to purvey through the images that I capture.

 

New Orleans – my second favorite city on the planet. I’ll be in the Big Easy this weekend shooting Sweat Fest – a tournament hosted by the Big Easy Rollergirls featuring some of the best roller derby teams in the nation. It’s a total of nine games over two days and I’m gonna shoot as much as I can.

I’m lucky enough to be an official photographer for the Texas Rollergirls this season. Side note – this wasn’t even on my radar a year ago. Nope. I tried to shoot for Texas a few times last season, but it never worked out because of my schedule. I made them a priority this season – only after my home league, Rockin’ City, of course. Why the change? 2016 Champs. Dammit, that Texas team made me believe in shit. No lie.

But also…some of my work will be featured in Glowed Up – an awesome art show in Austin hosted by Cherry Cola Dog on Saturday night. They’ll have some of my Skate Park photos up for grabs. I’m super stoked about this show and bummed to miss it because I’ll be in New Orleans (see above), but there will be more.