We Are f-stop: Roller derby world cup with stephanie zakas

Our customer Stephanie Zakas is a photographer based out of Brooklyn, NYC, who specializes in romantic and adventurous weddings and also shoots travel related content.  Alongside this work she has a passion for roller derby and is the official photographer for the USA Roller Derby national roller team, as well as Team Korea Roller Derby team. Roller derby is a quirky, inclusive, colorful and adrenaline-fuelled sport, which has its own World Cup in Manchester, England earlier this year. If you are not familiar with roller derby, let Stephanie give you a written and visual tour in her 'We Are f-stop' story:

Words and photos by Stephanie Zakas

What is roller derby?

Roller Derby is a full contact, high impact, fast paced sport that is 100% real and nothing like what everyone thinks of from back in the 1970’s. There is no ball, the points are scored by the player wearing the star on her helmet (called the Jammer), one on each team on the track at a time. Every other player is out there to stop her from scoring points by knocking her down and not letting her pass them. They are also trying to help their Jammer score points by getting her to pass the other players by knocking down the other players or moving them out of the way. It is offense and defense at the same time, unlike any other sport.

Why it's the "Roller Derby World Cup"... not the "Women's Roller Derby World Cup"

Women started and dominate the sport (WAHOO!) which is reflected in the name of the event. Unlike any other sport where the women’s team is the team to be gendered in the title (for example "Women's World Cup") in roller derby it is the men’s event that is called the ‘Men’s Roller Derby World Cup’ - while the women's is simpley "The Roller Derby World Cup".


The 2018 World Cup event overview

The Roller Derby World Cup is held every four years. The location changes every tournament, and this year it was held in Manchester, in the U.K. This year there were 38 teams competing, including 'Team Indigenous' that represented Indigenous people’s from all over the globe.

The teams are comprised by nation-wide tryouts where the coaches and managers pick the best of the best players in the entire nation. The World Cup is a 5-day-long event, where teams start playing in brackets and start to knock each other out of the rankings. This all builds up to the the final game, which this year was USA vs Australia. When the dust settled USA Roller Derby took first place!


How I got into shooting Roller Derby

I have been playing roller derby for 12 years, and play for the New York City team which is how I got into roller derby photography. I shoot for my team's All Star team who is the charter team for national rankings. About two years ago, I was asked to be USA Roller Derby’s official photographer.

"From a photographer perspective, the event is a high-stress situation - though insanely fun! It is very fast paced with 4 tracks all playing at the same time."


Shooting the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup event

The photocrew was comprised of Team Shooters, Event Shooters, and Media Shooters. There were a total of 50 shooters credentialed. From a photographer perspective, the event is a high-stress situation - though insanely fun! It is very fast paced with 4 tracks all playing at the same time. You have to move your lights and set them up form track to track with hardly any leeway time. Between games if you have any time, we have to go back into our ‘photo village’ to dump cards, back up files, do a quick select and edit, then get photos out to news outlets, the teams, the companies who hire us independently to license our images to use. For example, I had skate companies, apparel companies, protective gear companies purchasing images off of me in real time. Then after shooting for 10+hrs, you go back to your hotel to finish up any post production and workflow, charge your gear batteries, sleep, then get up and do it again!


​​​She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and then earned a degree in Film Production in Orlando, Florida where after graduation she saved money in a literal shoebox to buy her first camera 11yrs ago. After teaching herself how to shoot, Steph stayed in Orlando for a few years while shooting for Disney Creative Media at Walt Disney World before moving to New York City, where she has been ever since. She is passionate about travel and being able to create epic images out of the experiences she has. She believes that her clients should have just as much fun during the shoot as she does shooting. She is always up for a new adventure in any country, a new challenge, and a new way of documenting her surroundings.

See more of Stephanie's work on her web siteInstagram profile, and Facebook Page . 



"We Are f-stop" is a for all f-stop users to share their stories from the field, whether small daily adventure or epic travels. Get in touch with your story on Facebook or drop us an email to [email protected] and let us know on where your photography takes you and your pack! 


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