Risky Business

Presenting the Bellingham Roller Betties

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In select black-and-white shots highlighting the members of the Bellingham Roller Betties, photographers Kim Lincoln and Amy Woodward made sure to place the nearly naked roller derby players in postures that reflected each woman’s innate power.

“All the nudes were posed to reflect each woman’s strength and beauty,” Lincoln says of the images, which can be seen during an opening reception for “Bellingham Roller Betties: Business in the Front, Party in the Back” during the downtown Art Walk Fri., June 6 at Casa Que Pasa. “They are not retouched, as we wanted to convey what true beauty looks like (without Photoshop). We purposely left the scars, bruises and marks that make each woman unique and beautiful.”

Per the exhibit’s mullet-based title, the images shot by Lincoln and Woodward will be split into two distinct sections. In the “Business in the Front” category, pictures from derby bouts and practices will be highlighted, along with select portraits, in the front part of the restaurant. In the bar at the rear of the eatery,  the “Party in the Back” will feature the tasteful nudes, which were all shot in tandem by Lincoln and Woodward.

Along with the 90-plus images on display, the opening event will feature meet-and-greets with members of the Bellingham Roller Betties, who will be on hand to answer questions about the organization, sign up new recruits and share information about the upcoming training camp. Reps from Sea Mar Visions—the group who will be the recipients of the funds generated from the sale of the photos—will also be there to talk about their program, which provides counseling and rehabilitation to girls ages 14-17.

Woodward and Lincoln will be mingling with the crowd, as well, so attendees should feel free to ask them questions about the photographs on display, including what it takes to get the right shot when a horde of women in roller skates are barreling toward you. 

“It can be dangerous to photograph roller derby,” Woodward says. “Our equipment is fully insured, and we know it’s a risk every time we step out on to that track. We are required to stay in taped-off areas when we are in the middle of the track, but it is still a bit overwhelming being circled by refs and skaters who are shouting, blowing whistles and often times flying past you after a hard hit.”

“Shooting the bouts is one of the most challenging things we’ve ever photographed,” Lincoln adds. “You have fast-moving subjects and terrible lighting, and we’ve really tried our best to capture great images under these really challenging conditions. It’s forced us to step out of our comfort zones and learn new techniques.”

Despite the challenges, both photographers have been volunteering their creative services for a number of years, with the aim of bringing the women of the Bellingham Roller Betties to the public eye and sharing one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

“Part of the Roller Betties’  mission statement is to ‘honor diversity and self-expression, and welcome women of all shapes, sizes and skill levels,’” Woodward says. “We sincerely hope our photos can reflect this.”

Attendees at the opening reception can also purchase tickets for the Sat., June 7 Bellingham Roller Betties championship happening at Whatcom Community College’s Orca Pavilion. Tickets are $6-$14.

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