35mm glass, snow, and gluhwein

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It felt great to hit the streets again with my lenses, and as much as I enjoy hunting for light at night as I have been in my past few outings, It was refreshing to shoot during the day once more.  The past few weeks have been particularly harsh and hellish with my non-photographic work and responsibilities.  When relief finally came on Monday, I naturally turned to street photography as an outlet to unwind and recover.

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On Tuesday, I took off into the Loop with my street shooter and two lenses (a 24mm and a 35mm, my glasses of choice for reportage).  I was pleasantly surprised at how many great scenes and moments presented themselves to me.The snowfall from days before were still left undisturbed in some areas, and despite the blistering cold, Chicagoans were out in full force and full of joyous holiday spirit.  Often, one of the many challenges for a street photographer is to approach complete strangers carrying on their own business and photograph them up close.  “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said Robert Capa (yes, the same Robert Capa who met his demise after stepping on a land mind while trying to get closer).  In these days when privacy concerns are at an all-time high, people can get scared and intimidated when they see a massive lens and camera pointed at them.  This is why I go to great lengths to be as discrete as possible, to avoid in any way possible of looking like a “profesional,” using the smallest lenses I have as to not scare away potential subjects, let alone pissing off someone objecting to being photographed.  I am fortunate that to date, I have not had anyone aggressively confront me.  Some people did notice me on that Tuesday, however, which may had more to do with looking like an extra from “The Hunt for Red October.”  While a few had a “What the f – – – are you doing?” reaction, others seemed delighted to see a lens pointed at them and played along.

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Later in the afternoon, I met up with fellow photographer Adam Barbanell (see the past post Autumnocoplypse now!) and his friend at the German Christkindlmarket at the Daley Center for some warm gluhwein.  But of course, photographers have itchy shutter fingers, so it wasn’t long before the three of us were roaming the Loop on a city-safari.

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The next day, I ventured out again downtown but with less photographic intentions.  Rather, I returned to Christkindlmarket to meet up with some friends for some much needed socializing . . . and gluhwein.  That still did not stop me from bringing a 35mm lens with me, though.  One never knows when a decisive moment will present itself, so it is imperative to be ready for the shot.

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Now if you excuse me, but I must get ready to head out again, this time to the opening of an exhibit of Magnum Photo’s Alex Webb‘s early works at the Stephen Daiter Gallery downtown.  I am hoping that alcohol will be present . . . or better, a cute girl with a Leica.

All images © K. Dao Photography 2013, all rights reserved