No mask


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I get bored easily. I was explaining to someone yesterday that I have an intense need to pursue many activities and interests, for if I myself were to be a one-track, singleminded drone doing only one thing in life, I would most likely jump off from the roof of the twelve-story building we were in due to such a banal existence.

Despite the fact that my ex-girlfriend thought it was a liability and detriment to have so many interests, I have only added to my list of passionate pursuits over the years. That’s probably one reason why she’s an ex. I myself believe that the things we do, the interests we have and pursue, and the resulting experiences, serve to enrich our lives. Ultimately, we do these things not only for enjoyment but to better ourselves. I have observed this to be true through my own eyes at least.

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Before I took photography seriously, I had an aversion to crowds. My innate shyness and unreasonable insecurities would cause me to avoid strangers en masse. Some of this aversion against crowds crumbled after moving away from home. Living on Curacao helped somewhat but more so in Chicago, though only to a tolerable level of acceptance. It was not until I began doing street photography, however, that I shifted from being complacent of being in a crowd to want to dive deep into one whenever possible. There is a common belief that photography allows one to hide behind a mask in the form of a camera, using it as armor from people. Dare I say that photography has actually had the beneficially reverse effect in bringing me out of my shell and tearing down my wall of timidness. My camera is not a mask; rather, it is greeting.

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As such, I have grown to relish moments in the city where people are out in full force, and no better day does happen than St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chicago. As I had mentioned in a previous post, “Flaking out,” a best friend from Ohio, Karen, came to visit last weekend. With a boat cruise on the green dyed Chicago River that Saturday afternoon, we left for downtown much earlier than necessary under my persuasion to better beat the traffic to ensure arriving at the boat dock on time. We could have taken the CTA all the way to Navy Pier to board, but I suggested to get off the bus much earlier and set off on foot on Michigan Avenue with my own motive: to pierce through, infiltrate, and photograph up close what I had correctly foresaw to be a massive crowd of reveling and drunk Chicagoans out in full force. I will admit that my motive, intent, and actions were completely selfish and inconsiderate to Karen, as she herself is not a fan of crowds. It was, however, an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. And I would like to think that it was worth it for Karen to see the green dyed Chicago River, at least.

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I am still waiting to see what Karen’s camera recorded from that day.

Obviously, we survived our safari through the green sea of rather interesting persons on Michigan Avenue from Jackson Boulevard up past the river all the way to Navy Pier. Despite the bitterly cold air, the cruise was quite enjoyable, especially with the corned beef and cabbage buffet and Bailey’s Irish coffee from the bar. Regardless, the best part of the day was just being able to spend some time with my longtime friend. She has always been there for me when I needed her most, and especially later that night when after an unfathomable amount of Glenfiddich at The Kerryman Pub placed me in a rather incapacitated state. But that’s a different story altogether for another time.

All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.