Online Photo Usage in Roller Derby

Online Photo Usage in Roller Derby Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography.

Playoffs are over and with the WFTDA Championship weekend on the horizon, images captured by photographers are sprawling across social media and video is being archived for you to view forever and ever. After more than a decade of this sport’s second life, we are living in the era of digital everything. This version of the sport is covered better than it ever has been in the last 80 years, and there are millions of images that have been captured. So much so, that we will never be able to see them all. The ones we do see make the memories that much more pliable, and we will be able to go back and see them for years to come.

These beautiful photos are being captured by the loyal lovers of the game who sit trackside with a camera in hand, and sometimes these photographers are just as much a part of a team as anyone else. Some travel with teams and some just show up to help a team out. There is a derby photographer close to just about any team in the world and with a network of over 500+ shooters, these folks are constantly talking to each other. If a team reaches out for a photographer, there is a good chance that it will be brought up in their community, and if someone can cover a game, they will. This is especially true during tournaments.

Many of the shooters that you see have day jobs, but some do work in photography full time. As we know, roller derby is not the most lucrative sport out there but no one cares, because doing what you love is the name of this game. However, as there are certain people who do make a living with their camera, they want to see their images being treated with the same respect as what a client would give them.

Photo by Preflash Gordon.

Photo by Preflash Gordon.

Since there are a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the business side of photography, the question of money may come up and that too goes back to the derby photographer’s community. Other questions may arise like what to charge for a print or what to ask for when it comes to team photos or head shots, and the knowledge of the professionals and veterans of the game is openly passed on. The idea of the group is to help each other out in a community that is safe and helpful.

As teams don’t usually have a large budget, photographers are often able to work something out with the league. We all want to see this game and it’s participants succeed. On the other side of that, it’s important that people treat these images with care, and not use or alter them without permission from the photographer. Even though things are easily shared on social media, people should make sure the photographer gets the credit they deserve.

Not too long ago, a skater named Stella Threat (Kate Margeson), who heads up PR and Media for Penn Jersey Roller Derby wrote an etiquette and usage guide for her league mates to follow. In plain language, it covers the do’s and don’t’s of social media and derby photography usage. Here is her post:

1. When most photographers post an album to Facebook, they often include directions on how they’d like their photos shared. Take the time to read this, and please obey it. We have a lot of lovely photographers that like to work with us because we respect them and their work.

2. Share photos from their original post or album ONLY. DO NOT take a screenshot or save a photo and re-upload elsewhere. This breaks the link between the master file/album and the comment trail and likes that may go along with it.

3. NEVER EVER crop or edit photos in ANY WAY, especially watermarks. It’s like taking the signature off of a painting, discrediting the person behind the shot. Sometimes Facebook asks you to crop for a profile picture. If there is no way around this, at the very least tag, and credit the photographer/photography page, thanking them for the great photo.

4. Unless otherwise specified, DO NOT re-upload shots to Instagram. Adding filters, typed words or doodles, and cropping to a square format was likely not the original intent of the photographer. Sites like Buzzfeed (and others) can use Instagram photos freely without having to pay or credit the photographer. This is one of the reasons they are so protective of their work.

5. Always, always, always ask their permission if you have any questions regarding any other type of usage. The photographer will appreciate it, believe me. In this case it is never better to ask forgiveness over permission, as with every misstep, we lose the chance that the photographer will want to come back and shoot more of our games. They are spending time and gas money to come see us, it’s the least we can do.

6. Really really really love a photo? Consider purchasing a print. They’re often super cheap and there is no better way to thank a photographer for their time and talent then with those sweet dolla dolla bills. Please contact me if you have any questions with this process. Obviously I cannot police the internet all day, but expect to be notified if I catch you breaking the rules. Penn Jersey has a really great reputation with our photographers and I’d like to keep it that way.

Thanks, Stella

Photographers are grateful to participate in the game, and it makes them happy when someone likes an image, makes it their profile photo, or wants to post it all over social media. Many skaters go way out of their way in thanking them and if you haven’t lately and you know a photographer, say thanks. As Stella mentioned, maybe find out who they are and buy a print (or a pint!). It all helps to get us to the next game, tournament, or day.

Now go out and have a happy Championship weekend.

Check out some of Gil Leora’s work here.

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