Life is about balance. From the physiological process of homeostasis to emotional and mental stability, balance is a necessity to a human being. That is why the weekend before last, despite being in the midst of editing photographs from the Windy City SYC, I took a break of sorts and returned to what gives balance to my eyes, mind, and soul: street photography.
As much as I constantly tell myself to explore different parts of the great city of Chicago with a lens, I find myself gravitating towards my usual stomping grounds of the Loop and Mag Mile. I had written before that despite the familiarity of the backdrop of State Street, Wabash Avenue, and Michigan Avenue, that there is always something different that comes into the frame of my viewfinder. I see the same stage and set-pieces to an ever changing play with different characters every time. That is what draws me in, a balance of the familiar juxtaposed against the unexpected.
Friday and Saturday were par for the course. I came across interesting characters, sometimes oblivious to my presence, other times seeing what I am doing but thinking I am a tourist, and a few occasions handing me an image on a silver platter. It was good to slow down and take my time, to just stop and listen to the chaotic yet harmonious melody of the city, syncing my ears to my eyes to sense my surroundings. As much as I love photographing a crowded fencing tournament, running around, ducking, crawling, dodging stray blades, roaming the streets puts me into a meditative zen state.
As Chicagoans rudely discovered last week, however, that while the final two days of January were rather mild and sunny, February struck down with great vengeance and furious anger. Weather forecasts had indicated that a massive winter storm was making its way across the northern midwest, hitting Chicago late Saturday night. When I woke up Sunday morning, it was clear that “winter storm” actually meant “blizzard.” While a reasonably prudent person would stay inside and keep warm and cozy, I grabbed the toughest camera in my arsenal—the 7D—and prepared for an expedition into the thick of it. Of course, I also had a lunch appointment with a few friends for burgers at Kuma’s, but the thought of photographing a blizzard was an extra incentive to step outside.
Fortunate for me, I was not the only one deterred by a blizzard. For Chicagoans, it appeared to be just another routine Sunday. I suspect that if not for the Super Bowl later that evening, there would have been more people wandering around town. Despite the rapid and heavy snowfall that would eventually accumulate to 18 inches in some parts of the city, people were still out shopping, grabbing coffee, getting to wherever they needed to be, and engaging in snowball fights.
In all of this still, I was in a state of zen, perhaps even more so as I slogged through the slush. After returning home late that afternoon (and putting my gear into a makeshift desiccator), I felt rather at ease. Tired, but at ease nonetheless. My eyes and mind were refreshed enough to delve back into editing fencing photographs, as evident with publishing images from Day 1 of the SYC a few days later.