Last weekend I did a photo shoot…and okay…before I go any further I just have to stop and say that even just writing, “last weekend I did a photo shoot” makes me feel like I can never complain about anything in my life, because honestly…who does photo shoots with professional photographers for fun in their free time…seriously…if you ever hear me say FML (worst phrase ever) or complain about how hard my poor little life is, you have absolute authorization to throw an egg at my head or come up with another type of response of creative equivalence in order to correct my temporary yet immensely skewed perspective of the universe.
Anyways, I spent last Saturday hanging out with TJ Chase and Kim Janna and Breen Johnson at the Rollergirl store in Vancouver getting my photo taken (http://www.rollergirl.ca). Here is a bit of a background on how this whole thing came to be:
About two years ago, TJ Chase photographed his first TCRG bout ever (All-Stars vs the Murder, a Men’s team from Cloverdale, B.C at Central City Arena) and posted his photo album shortly thereafter on his Facebook page. Soon realizing he didn’t know many of the skaters he had photographed, he sent me a message asking if could tag some of my team mates.
Welllll….after looking through his photos I was beyond excited to share them with my team and our league and the world and pretty much – BOOM – the rest is history.
TJ is freaking awesome and his talent speaks for itself.
After this brief interaction, TJ and I started a friendship in which we would message back and forth to chat about derby, derby skaters, derby photographers, derby experiences and the portrayal of the sport. We both agreed it would be really fun to do a portrait-style shoot that focused on capturing that “alter-ego” aspect of the multifaceted “derby culture”. This was in my early skating days, and I was very interested in this part of the community and the sport, however, I also took the game very seriously and really appreciated TJ’s vision behind the lens and his obvious respect for the game.
We both definitely shared excitement about the culture of roller derby at that time, but it was also very refreshing to see a photographer that recognized the complexity of the sport and focused on the action, the strategy, the team work. There was definite purpose in how he chose to depict the subjects of his photographs.
Fast forward to last weekend, two years have passed, and a lot has changed about the game including the reasons we both love it. Specifically, in the last few months we chatted a lot about how this sport has unveiled some pretty amazing and focused competitors. Words like “strength”, “grit” and “intensity” kept repeating throughout our conversations, as well as terms such as “bad ass” and “athlete”.
TJ explained that something struck him in particular one day when he was looking online for inspiration. When using key search words such as “female athlete portrait” compared to just “athlete portrait”, he noticed there was a concerning (and annoying) disparity in the types of photos that would come up (do a search yourself and you’ll see what I mean). Granted, there are a lot of great images out there, but there are also quite a few not so great ones. So the goal of this shoot was to avoid the concept of “hey look! Female athletes!”! Or “we are tough girls” or “girls play aggressive sports too” and rather be represented as simply athletes. After all, we consider ourselves to be committed and passionate athletes…at least I do.
I’m excited to see how the photos turned out. Yes, I have to admit that I feel weird about being so vulnerable and allowing the general public to see what goes on underneath my t-shirt, but at the same time I really think it’s great when people can be proud of who they are, what they have accomplished and support one another. Kim and TJ have been such amazing supporters and I am so proud of what they both have achieved since getting to know them…and this past weekend was a fun way to hang out, reflect, and enjoy all the cool experiences and crazy challenges that have been introduced into our lives since we got involved in roller derby.
ALSO, we had a lot of fun and a lot of outtakes, which I’m sure, will be floating around in the next month or so…
To conclude, today my workout was inspired by the damn kettle bell Kim and I held during throughout the shoot…it was heavier than you think, especially after having to stand still with it for TJ’s version of “5 more seconds” (which was never actually 5 more seconds)….