I went to photograph women’s flat track roller derby … and an animal adoption fair broke out. The four regular season teams of the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls skated in a doubleheader and, though I can’t be sure of the final score, I think the all-volunteer non-profit Rocket Dog Rescue won. (To See more photos from the doubleheader, go to this link)
I visited the Rocket Dog Rescue booth several times during the night and each time I felt better. I also noticed when I was reviewing my photos that I took the long way around the track so that I would walk by their booth. After a few minutes shooting derby, I missed the dogs (not so much the cats, but they were cute too). Each time I visited the booth, at least one derby fan was playing with the animals. Often, there was a line.
I tried not to get too close, but not because I was afraid of getting physically hurt. I have a dog, and … well, he would know. Besides, these two dogs go together and I do not have room for two more dogs and they are “too cute.” (Have you seen the TV show “Too Cute?” Me neither, but I have friends who also have kids and they tell me it is worth watching.)
Even the two Rocket Dog Rescue volunteers were “too cute.” This photo might be the best advertisement for animal rescue. Follow your heart. It is often wrong, but when it is right…. This photo also illustrates what happened to the crowd. We might have become too cute, especially during the first game.
I should not have been surprised. Even though Rocket Dog Rescue is a non-profit for the benefit of animals, humans benefit when interacting with animals. Researchers have documented that stress decreases when we interact with animals. In some instances, humans who interact with animals have higher survival rates than people who do not have animals. I also have anecdotal evidence that fewer people line the track after bouts when interacting with animals. Granted, a few enthusiastic fans jumped onto the track to congratulate San Francisco and Berkeley, but most people remained in the stands as if to say, “Hey, could you keep it down? We have cute little dogs back here.”
The Bay Area Derby Girls have great fans. I am continually amazed by the support given to the players, photographers, vendors and fans. We just seemed a little more subdued. Perhaps we enjoyed returning to Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion and the natural light. When I was not photographing the animals, I often focused on the color and light. I love this photo of Lulu Lockjaw (the jammer with the star on her helmet) and Y.I. Otter (the official). They are both photogenic in bad light, but this is great light. I could photograph them skating through that light for a long time… and I did.
The derby community is more than the skaters. Photographer Donalee is one of my favorite derby people. She is also one of the most popular derby people in the country. I do not know if she has a derby name, but I consider her “The Legend,” though she would choose something much more humble. She is one of the people who is writing the rules of this new era of derby. She amazes me.
The night bout between The Oakland Outlaws and The Richmond Wrecking Belles was more difficult to photograph, but I also had opportunities to shoot in different light. The second game also featured the derby player of the month Cat Fever whose long blonde hair was perfect for the night bout.
I am learning that derby fans love Demanda Riot, so I am learning to post her photos. It is amazing how much my traffic increases, especially after I post good photos. Hopefully, this is a good one. If not, there are good ones on my photography Facebook site.
Derby fans are generous. After I post photos on Facebook, people from at least four continents will view my pictures (and I am a relatively unknown derby photographer.) Derby fans often volunteer for several hours. Fans help promote, because they want to see the sport succeed. Derby fans share generously on Facebook… and after a bout, they usually line the track and congratulate both teams.
…and more about dogs in prison rehabilitation.
AND NOW FOR AN UPDATE:
Last night (JULY 13) I asked BAD volunteer Havah Tequila if she wanted to see one of my favorite photos from the June doubleheader. I told her I was going to post it on my blog, so here it is.