When I review my photos at the end of each year, I am always surprised. How did I get so lucky? Yesterday I recalled meeting track legend Tommie Smith. Today I am overwhelmed that I photograph women’s flat track roller derby for the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls.
The league has four regular season teams and one traveling all-star team. The Golden Girls, the BAD Girls all-star team, are ranked second by the WFTDA, as of November 30, 2013. BAD finished 3rd at last month’s WFTDA Championships.
I photographed most of the BAD Girl local bouts. I also traveled to Santa Cruz when the Santa Cruz Derby Girls opened their new downtown facility. My wife and children came with me. Our friends from Monterey met us at the arena with their two children.
Many of my favorite photos included children. While being a father might preclude me from traveling every weekend to a derby tournament, it does not interfere with being a derby photographer. I can be a derby photographer and a father. I can bring my children to meet derby players, coaches and other fans. There are so many reasons that I love derby. Bringing the people I love the most to the games is one of the reasons I love derby.
I think other parents enjoy bringing their kids too. Some of us parents pretend that we go for the drink specials and the women in tight outfits, but we really go for the opportunity to show our young children amazing role models. (If you are a parent, you understand.)
The roller derby community includes people of all ages and from everyone part of life. (Jean Quan, the Mayor of Oakland attended a bout in May.)
I enjoy photographing the officials. Each official interests me and as a group, they are even more interesting. Officials have their own language. Derby officials arrive early. They train, study and practice. Everyone who attends derby participates… and everyone seems so interesting.
Occasionally, I photograph the skaters. Other derby photographers capture action better than I do. I try to capture mood. Derby is a moody sport. Sometimes, derby photographers can be moody too. Maybe I should have named myself Moody Blue instead of P Giddy.
Derby photographers are special too. We arrive early. We discuss derby online. We motivate each other. I enjoy all the derby photographers. There is one derby photographer who I enjoy seeing more than the others. Donalee is amazing. She seems to be everywhere. Derby would not be the same without her.
When I think about my 2013 derby season, I think about how an old friend defined home. Home is where they have to take you when you have to go there. Derby is sorta like that. Derby accepts everyone, at least it felt that way for me in 2013. I often needed some place to go, and derby was there. I wanted to be happy-go-lucky P Giddy, but I wasn’t. Still, the BAD Girls let me hang around. The photographers still talked to me. The DJ played my favorite songs. (He played them anyway, but still…) I took pictures.
Thank you for letting me hang around. I’m looking forward to being there in 2014.
Note: I edited this post on December 31, 2013. I added a few pictures and text. I especially wanted to acknowledge the part about derby accepting everyone and I wanted to remember the other photographers. -bf