When Melbourne photographer Zina Sofer returned from her last work trip to Antarctica, she was looking for something faster to use her burgeoning skills on.

She had extensively captured the vast emptiness of the Antarctic which she had showcased in her first exhibition at Gasworks Arts Park.

But it was a radio interview with two roller derby femme fatales that pricked the Melbourne photographer’s ears and drew her to her first bout which subsequently lead on to her new exhibition premiering with the Midsumma Festival, Roller Derby Save My Soul.

The exhibition features approximately 20 high-energy moments from local roller derby bouts, illustrating the agility and skill required to survive on the circuit.

The Star Observer spoke to Sofer during her preparations for the exhibition, sizing up canvases and perhaps the hardest task, whittling down her favourite 20 images.

“I came back with the urge to take some action photography,” Sofer said.

Sofer spent hours crouched down next to the track with other photographers in order to take the best photos, manoeuvring herself to the closest position available.

“I was just blown away,” she said.

“First of all, I didn’t know what the rules were: who plays against who, what’s the star on her helmet and what are the stripes for?

“Sometimes you get the spills where they fly into the crowd.

“It’s competitive, it’s physical, it’s feminine and it’s fetish but it’s not aggressive, it’s not ugly.

“When the whistle blows you can see the concentration on their faces, looking for a break through the blockers.”

From the few images already available, it’s clear Sofer pays meticulous attention to capturing the action but also the energy and mood of the bouts.

“It’s so easy to get hooked on and I can understand why there’s such a huge following from the gay community and why there is such a huge following from the heterosexual community,” she said.

“It’s so much fun and action, who doesn’t want to see powerful women enjoying themselves out there.”

Sofer even captured moments from the recent Roller Derby Xtreme tour which saw players from the iconic New York Gotham Girls and LA Derby Dolls play alongside Australian players across the country.

But Sofar remained tight-lipped on whether she could use any of these beauties in her final selection, so you’ll just have to go along to see for yourself.

Roller Derby Saved My Soul by Zina Sofer is free and runs from January 15-February 3 at Gasworks Arts Park.

INFO: www.midsumma.org.au

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