Why I Shoot Derby


May’s edition of Forever Sports carries an article on ‘How to be a Blocker’, an interview with Oliva Coupe (London Rollergirls, London Brawling and England Roller Derby, if you didn’t know). Well worth a read if you pick yourself up a copy.

From my perspective it’s good to see Roller Derby getting some mainstream attention, although it is still a long way from becoming a mainstream sport. For some in the community this isn’t the path they wish to see the sport go, but raising its profile opens Derby up to a wider audience, more potential participants, and more importantly, more fans.

Fans are important as they bring in income but only demand a good game to watch in return. They are happy to spend money on merchandising and refreshments, generating income for not only the team but also the venues they use, making Derby a more viable proposition for these businesses. Which can only be a good thing knowing how hard it is for some teams to find suitable places to host bouts. The more money coming in, the more opportunities it gives leagues.

For me it gives me an outlet for my images. While I enjoy shooting bouts and sharing them on Facebook for those involved on the day, it’s not my prime motivation. Seeing your work in a magazine or newspaper validates what you do, something the internet doesn’t do for a photographer. Anyone can post images to the web, but to have them accepted by a publication reinforces ones belief that the quality and subject matter has some value and what you do is worthwhile.

It is also good to be able to support those who play the game, helping to develop their careers in some small way by giving them and the sport a little exposure. This is the real value photography can bring to the sport, without it, press releases and magazine articles just wouldn’t happen. It is difficult enough to explain Roller Derby to the uninitiated, the age-old clichĂ©, ‘a picture can paint a thousand words’, however, holds true.

For this article I actually got paid, not enough to retire on, just enough to fund costs to travel to a bout outside Yorkshire where hopefully I can replicate the process.

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