Hell On Wheels
For some time now, I’ve been wanting to put together a post or two on the subject of women’s roller derby. I’ve been dragging my feet on doing so because quite frankly, my shots have been crap. My experience with photography up until now has been with subjects that are not moving or poorly lit; shooting a sport has felt like a completely new endeavor. What I’ve decided to do is to post the (admittedly mediocre) material I’ve got so far, because I’m excited to have a new and very different subject to blog about, and I would welcome any feedback on becoming better at this kind of photography.
What brings me to the topic of derby is my wife, who has been involved in rollersports for several years now. At first, it was mostly for fitness, but last year she tried out for and was accepted onto the Chicago Outfit, a local team. I started attending bouts and found I really enjoyed watching the sport; and, after all, what’s not to like about women in hot pants trying to knock each other down? What really sold me on the sport, apart from the spectacle, was the camaraderie I witnessed among the players, and the abandon with which they quickly throw themselves into their sport.
I won’t get into the minutia of the rules here; the basic gist is that the girls, five to each team, skate in a pack around a track. One on each team is designated the “jammer”, and scores points for each opposing team member she laps. The girls in the pack want to help their respective jammer through while blocking the other team’s, and there is where the fun happens. That is a gross simplification, but it will work as an introduction, and those wishing to dig in deeper can find a great Youtube video on the rules of roller derby here.
These, then, are a few shots from last Saturday’s bout between the visiting Chicago Outfit and the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. (Chicago got trounced, but in derby there’s always an afterparty where you can drink your cares away.) Chicago’s in yellow. Mouseover on each picture provides additional commentary.