there is a queerness about rollergirls

Derbygirls Blog has been featuring guest posts by derby girls about what drew them to the sport initially and what keeps them in it. This post by Rachel MadHo about being queer and a derby girl stood out to me in particular, especially this part:

“Within the derby community, minority though I may still be, I am neither invisible nor spectacle. I can’t think of another context where being a minority does not mean being in the margins. My difference, my queerness, is known and acknowledged—yet I am not treated like the Other. Most of my leaguemates see the real me, and appreciate instead of gawking. They get it. Even the straight ones.

“Because, I think, there is a queerness about rollergirls—whatever their gender preference in partners. There is an understanding that as women, the world we’ve been given and the roles we’ve been assigned aren’t quite right, don’t quite fit. There is a determination to do things differently, to in fact do everything we aren’t supposed to do: act out, speak up, take up space, know ourselves and be true to ourselves, own our sexuality and whatever it means to us, fight for what we want instead of accepting what we get, always have each other’s backs.”

A day or two before that post showed up in my reader I was just remarking to myself that my latest images are feeling awfully heteronormative to me, and I don’t want that. So at some point I’m going to have to seek out queer derby girls. It feels a bit mercenary but I think it’s important to include that perspective.

* * *

I’ve been working on editing my show coming up in March. Editing is HARD. Especially with this derby girls series, where I have some definite ideas I want to get across. I find myself getting attached to particular items in a derby girl’s home, and I want to use the images with those things in them even if they don’t really work. I can’t seem to get any distance from the things… is there a word for inappropriate attachments to things? To give you a few more examples, I’ll start with Lawna Mower who I photographed a week or two ago:
I love the Barbie/pageant winner topping her tree. But I wish I’d chosen a better height for my camera because I’m pretty sure nobody else’s eye will go there. And there’s too many angles for my taste.

I love the tinsel on her light cord, the repeating lines of the plates in her dish rack and the vintage high chair. But they’re all a little too far apart and too close to the edge of the frame. (I’m constantly crushing myself into corners to try to fit stuff in…)

This is probably the best picture from the shoot. The light was nice, but the only thing I was attached to was her green toille (?) curtains, which I couldn’t fit in anyways. What to do?

Of the images you’ve seen before, I offer these confessions.
I LOVE Suzy Slam’s candle. Is there a name for that gesture? (I also love her socks!) But I think she’s just a little too centred in the frame somehow.

Baroness von Spike’s husband is a famous cartoonist and I just loved seeing the word Gynecology on the wall. But do you even notice it?

Hey! Maybe you can help me out. Will you tell me if you even noticed the things I love? That might be a first step to letting go.

Anyways, editing is HARD. I wish there were resources to help, but I haven’t seen any. Don Weber and Alec Soth are both great editors, imho, and they’ve both helped me, but I’m pretty sure it’s such an intuitive thing you can’t really teach it.

stuff I like

On weekends throughout January, Flak Photo has been featuring images from Yolanda del Amo’s series Archipelago. I love love love it.  The stillness and the tension, the crisp details of the interiors… love. I even had to buy the publication Light Work put out.

I also love this video:

Bottle from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.

And because it wouldn’t be a blog post here if I didn’t post a new derby girl, I like derby girls. Here is Mandy Maggotbone:



Suzy Slam

It seems to be all derby all the time here in this space, but these days that’s pretty much the extent of my engagement with photography. It’s not only the pregnancy, but I’m in full-on, shut-down hibernation mode.

Anyways, on the weekend I went to Suzy Slam’s house. It was such a pleasure to photograph her and her family, I really enjoyed myself.
I’m pretty sure this is my favourite shot of the family, but there were several to choose from and I have a huge fondness for their vintage kitchen.



Again and again, I am learning that I get good results when I listen to my subjects’ ideas. When I first went to Sue’s house in September, I was pretty skeptical of her bathroom idea. I was worried it would read too much like a punchline or something, but I don’t think it does at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite.

Happy New Year!

So it’s the start of a New Year. I’m not sure what to make of 2010. My first impulse was that it was a fantastic year — and it was, photographically, especially towards the end. I won a prize at RMG Exposed (which I didn’t get around to mentioning here, although I did tweet about it) and I’ve been invited to participate in a three-person show at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in summer 2012. I’m also going to be in a two-person show at the Elora Arts Centre this March. I made good progress on a project that brings me into the homes of intriguing women. And of course, I got to meet and hang out with and learn from Alec Soth for five days in May! That was probably the highlight of the year.

But then I started to remember the disappointments. The disillusionment and disappointment of our trip to South Africa — even though, granted, nothing really bad happened. The first half of the year I was a big anger ball, especially at my day job, though it spilled over into the rest of my life. In July we almost bought a house in our favourite part of downtown, but then the deal fell through and our current house didn’t sell anyways, and we couldn’t find anything else that interested us in our price range. In August I fell into a mildish depression, likely a combination of burnout from the first part of the year and disappointment that we weren’t moving forward on plans that could support future life changes. My day job got better in September with a series of projects that were big enough for me to get my teeth into but finished in a few weeks each so I could feel a sense of accomplishment. And I got pregnant, which is good, even if I did feel poisoned by the little parasite until very recently. And of course, it’s also scary as hell, given that my son didn’t sleep for five hours straight until he was 17 months old, and then it was just occasionally. I’m not even exaggerating.

So… 2010. I have friends for whom the year was much, much worse to them, so I’m not really complaining. But there’s definitely significant room for improvement for 2011 (please let it include a baby who sleeps well). Photography-wise, my goal for this year is to keep shooting. My goal for 2010 was to finish a project, and I’m not sure I really achieved that, although I did close the project with John. At any rate, I’m not troubled by that anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the derby girls keep me busy and engaged beyond 2011.

This morning I photographed a derby girl for the first time since early October. It felt good. This is Vixcyn and her family:


So how was 2010 for you and what are you hoping for from 2011?