This is always a sensitive topic when other photographers are concerned, I don’t want money from you to do what I love.
I’ve been photographing Roller Derby since 2012, a touch longer if we count the few times I used my iPhone from the stands while watching some of my heroines such as “Bambi von Smasher”, “Shaggle Frock” and “Freudian Slit”. The thing that attracted me to becoming a “Roller Derby Photographer” was things move really fast in horribly lit rooms so it was then, and continues to be a real challenge.
The Roller Derby community is a really accepting and supportive place (mostly) and in Canberra we are lucky enough to have two leagues one of them has Men’s and Mixed Gender teams, which gave me an opportunity to skate with a league and give back to a community that allowed me to do what I love, taking beautiful but technically challenging images.
In Roller Derby people talk about love for their community, sometimes they call it Lurby (Derby Love 💘) and I can attest to the fact that involvement in a community makes it so much more engaging. I think the idea of taking something out of these communities does not fit with what I really get, that is the opportunity to photograph people doing what they love.
This is priceless, actually there is a price for you, it’s access. Access to your events, access to the community of people who are as passionate about their hobbies as I am about mine. Without these opportunities I often say I’d be shooting images of Emus and Kangaroos, with the occasional Platypus. Yes I love Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve but I really enjoy shooting sports.
I’m sure I’m going to be asked why I attend events sometimes 9 hours drive round trip to shoot, the answer is I love to support sports that are different and sports that are underrepresented as far as photographers coming along. This often means I’m doing a lot of women’s support like Roller Derby and Women’s Full Kit Gridiron. I love the action but also taking portraits for programs or team marketing, all of these things are challenging in different ways.
I participate in many photographers forums and a common thing is for people to call for models, hair and makeup artists, and even other photographers on a time for portfolio basis. This is fantastic if you are keen to interact with new people each time and for many this is really energizing, for me this is a nightmare. It takes me a really long time to warm-up to people and I really like to collaborate with people I know even just a little bit but definitely not strangers. So the time I invest in shooting for the communities I am privileged enough to be able photograph is well spent in a very similar way to a TFP shoot.
Do I see this as a stepping stone to becoming a professional sports and lifestyle photographer? Oh God no. I’m an IT guy who just loves to take photos, when people offer to pay me it feels like the air gets sucked out of the shoot. Just give me the opportunity and access and we will make images that show the essence of your passion.
What about the professional photographers whose business you are destroying? I don’t see it that way at all, if I had to restrict myself to shoots that a pro doesn’t want to shoot I’d quickly have to hire models costing me a few hundred dollars a session or just do what I do.
I do describe my photographic style as a women’s sport photographer and a prime motivation is having a daughter who if she participated in sports at an elite level would still not have her achievements documented because there just aren’t that many people shooting it. I think this is a real shame.
So if you see me at an event come and say hello. Maybe give me some pointers on how I can capture your sport better, I will be learning new things every day.
See you on the weekend hope to make lovely images.
Soul Hunter pronounced David.