Published on March 26th, 2014 | by Y. I. Otter1
Joe Mac by Y.I. Otter (as Otter Ridiculousness Photography)
How to Make Friends and Influence Photographers
After a few months of light hibernation, the derby world has stretched, rubbed its eyes and begun rolling again. Bout schedules are finalized, tournaments are staffed and the sounds of volunteers begins again. Those sounds include the snaps, clicks and pops of many a camera.
For as long as there has been derby, there have been derby photographers. From the very first organized WFTDA tournament (2006 Dust Devil, anyone?) to, well..any day this week that ends with a ‘y’ there will be photographers around the country, shooting, cropping, cataloging and editing what is, and will continue to be the foundation of Roller Derby’s visual memory banks. Although cliche, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is about as true as it gets in this still-young sport. With the push of a button, they capture the emotion of a moment. The intimidating side glance of a jammer on the line. The intense concentration of an official during a tight pack. The roar of the crowd when an amazing block is given or absorbed. There are pictures where you can almost feel the hit. Where your heart nearly breaks for the team who lost by 2 points or the injury that put someone out for months The triumph that is almost palpable, erupting from the winning team’s bench. Photographers catch all of those moments and more.
I was privileged last year to begin dabbling in photography, shooting a few tournaments, including a couple D1/D2 playoffs (although I have a looong way to go before I consider myself to be in the ranks of these folks). With this came an entire new set of friends who welcomed with open arms, and opened to me another branch of derby culture. After many conversations online and off, the idea was brought up to convey how to make derby photographers feel supported and appreciated for what they contribute.
This isn’t about copyright or piracy or theft: it applies whatever licensing the photographer has chosen to use. It’s about being polite, and (most importantly) just not being a douchebag about it.
Below are a some Dos and Don’ts of using a derby photographer’s pictures:
- DO ASK. ASK. ask ask askaskask. If there was only on verb available to sum up what the derby world can do to show respect and appreciation for photographers, it’s that word. Not sure if you can use a photo for something? ASK. Want to make a calendar or cool trading cards using a photographer’s work? ASK. Found that perfect picture for your league’s flyer so everyone knows how amazing your team/league/this sport is? ASK. You would be surprised how such a simple word can do so much, and how disheartening it is when the word isn’t used.
- DON’T remove watermarks/copyright info, web page or social media links that give people a chance to check out other work that a photographer has done, unless you have explicit permission to do so. Many people use a photographers work on their facebook page or league website, and many photographers encourage that. It’s a great thing that benefits both parties, but when at all possible, keep as much of the photo intact as you can.
- DO keep the photographers ‘fingerprint’ within the scope of the picture. If you can’t keep part of a photo for whatever reason, and you have the photographer’s permission, link the photog in some way, so their work is acknowledged.
- DON’T assume that because a photog has taken a picture of you that it’s yours to do whatever you’d like with it. Some of the men and women behind those lenses are professional photographers (or people who want to enter the world of professional photography). These photos may make up a portion of their portfolio, which impacts their livelihood. This livelihood impacts the financial ability to attend bouts or tournaments and capture those once in a lifetime photos. This goes back to asking, especially when using a picture for promotional purposes that may end up making you or your league money. Help derby photographers continue to take pictures by spreading their work in a professional manner!
- DO remember that like the rest of us, derby photographers are volunteering their time and resources (feel free to insert a huge “DUH” here). In addition, like skaters, officials, announcers etc.. photogs spend the same money on gas, airfare, hotels, food, and other travel needs. Including, at times, paying to get into tournaments. Most, but not *all* tournaments waive admission for photographers that have been invited to shoot. Like a skater invests in skates, a photog invests in equipment so they can perform at their best which in turn, creates amazing photographs that benefit the sport, not only on a personal level (great team and individual photos for a league), but sometimes on a financial level (Photos that are included in ads for skate shops, training camps, tournaments, etc..).
Photographers are proud of their work. A photographer’s name, watermark or link in an image is, to some, the equivalent of a skater’s name and number on the back of their jersey. To an official, it can be likened to a certification patch. It’s how they are recognized for the work they have put into the sport. (Unless you are Bob Ayers, and have a snappy bowler hat and way of dressing that makes the rest of us look like a bunch of slobs who just rolled out of bed). It’s often their way of being acknowledged for what they contribute. Let’s continue to work at appreciating what photographers give to this sport by trying our very hardest to keep those fingerprints in tact, and when in doubt…ASK.