By land and by sea
The month of July seemed to have flew by like a bat out hell for me (sans a fiery motorcycle crash). The combination of the many things I had mentioned in the previous entries have certainly affected my work to some extent. Hopefully, the month of August shall prove much more conducive. I start the month here with finally unveiling photographs from the last weekend of June, five weeks ago. It was a weekend in which many, many events were scheduled here in the great city of Chicago. Given that I am but one man who cannot contort and manipulate the space-time continuum, I had to choose wisely what to shoot and where. Saturday was a more casual day. Despite the (surprisingly accurate) forecast of scattered showers throughout the day, I decided to check out the 14th Annual Dragon Boat Race for Literacy in Chinatown. Due to the horrendous traffic downtown and personal errands in the morning, I did not reach the main venue of the race at Ping Tom Memorial Park until the afternoon. The skies fluxed between clear and sunny to brief rain and back again, as the contesting teams took to their boats and rowed down the river at speed. I admit that my knowledge of dragon boat racing is lacking, but from my observations, the goal is to row as fast as possible to the finishing line, upon which a team member at the boat’s bow would reach out as far as possible to grab a flag poled on a buoy to win the race.
The downtime between each contesting set allowed me to wander around and do what I do best: photograph people in their natural form, i.e. street photography. I continued to do this throughout the rest of the day downtown in the early evening after departing the race.
The aquatic and athletic theme carried on into Sunday with my decision to photograph the ITU World Triathlon held right in downtown at Grant Park. I preface and emphasize that I do not intend to make any political statements with my works—both photographic and literary—and I ask you, my loyal audience, to return the courtesy and not infer from my statements and acts anything political or idealogical. I had two major events to choose to cover that day: the 45th annual gay pride parade up north or a triathlon featuring international athletes. While I had contemplated the former, the parade always garners so much attention every year with massive attendance. I also felt that it had lost its original intent. The pride parade, as I understood it, is suppose to represent prevailing over a struggle for civil rights and to celebrate being true to oneself. I have observed over the years, however, that this message had diminished. Rather, it seems through my eyes that it serves more so now a summer version of Mardi Gras and Halloween with more promiscuity (if that’s actually possible). Admittedly, I am not one to talk given the fact that I am already mapping out pubs to visit for St. Patrick’s Day 2015, but I felt compelled to photograph the triathlon instead. To be honest, I was not that thrilled with the prospect of being surrounded by nearly naked (I’ve heard cases of literally naked) men and annoyingly wasted girls. Maybe I am just loosing tolerance for younger partier types at my ripe old age of . . . thirty going on thirty-one. But that’s my own problem and for a different discussion altogether.
But I chose to photograph the triathlon. I chose to document the event talked about less. I chose to bare witness the human spirit overcoming an insurmountable challenge; fighting physical exhaustion and anguish; conquering the land, the water, and any self doubt and fear. I wanted to go home inspired and feeling that I can achieve anything through perseverance, not questioning my faith in humanity. I will say this for the weeks that followed: I have been running more often and have gotten into the habit of jumping into the lake afterwards (despite how damn bloody cold Lake Michigan still is). Below are a few frames from the triathlon.
All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.