I shot this for the Emerald City Roller Girls a little while ago. They wanted some merchandise photos for the website for their travel team, the Skatesaphrenics. I had been shooting derby as part of a video production crew my housemate puts together for the team, so they asked me if I was interested. Hell yeah, I was interested. These women are incredibly sexy, and I’m just a defenseless dumb guy, so it was bound to be a disaster.
The part I was really looking forward to was the ‘virtual’ merchandise. This was merchandise you can buy for the ladies when they travel. Derby is getting bigger, but the fact is the ladies have to pay to play at this point. So the virtual merchandise can be things like a massage, or some energy bars, or fishnets…anything that can help offset the costs of traveling to do something you love while entertaining the hell out of people. Anyway, these photos were going to be more acted out. Something like a roller girl laying on a massage table with a crazy masseuse getting ready to work her over… things like that. I was pumped at the possibility.
So these ladies put in a lot of time for derby. It’s a huge commitment of energy, so when it comes to doing even more, liking taking photos for the website, they’re on their last reserves. Thing is, I need time. I need time to explore composition, adjust lighting, move props, etc. An hour is what they gave me.
At the last minute, they changed their minds about some of the virtual merch ideas, too. I was bummed. Essentially, we’d just be doing a few shots of t-shirts, an energy bar, and a leg brace. We also decided to meet at a local brewery who sponsors the team. Again, they’re busy, and they decided 1pm would be best for them to meet. But this is literally the worst time of day for a photographer. The sun is nearly straight overhead, creating a host of lighting issues including raccoon eyes, blown highlights, and black hole shadows. I was prepared with some strobes, but all my anticipation was sucked out by the fact we weren’t going to do the more interesting photos.
So the brewery emblem on the patio was an obvious choice for a photo. The situation was as contrasty as you can get though. This presents problems. First being the balance of exposure for Rocka Rolla, our roller girl model, the sky, and the shadows cast by the palettes in the background. I put a beauty dish up and camera right for her. I could expose for the sky (and pavement) and light her pretty easily, which looked fine, except for the black hole behind her on the palettes. I put up another strobe camera left with a standard reflector to give some detail, as seen better here.
All in all, the photos I made are acceptable, but definitely not fantastic. We did some tighter shots of the t-shirts, and had a couple more models, but nothing to write home about. Cute photos, but a little boring. I blame myself for not pushing harder to get something more interesting. But again, time was of the essence, and you just need more of it when you’re shooting products. But I learned an important lesson- push as hard as you can with the time you have and you’ll probably end up with something you like.