I have lost count how many times an airborne fencer has nearly skewered me with an épée and therefore how many times I have nearly ruined my pants. And yet, I still cannot help but to get in as close as possible when photographing fencing. Or Chicagoans wandering around the Loop. Or that dalmatian that suddenly snapped and barked at me around Ukrainian Village—that might have been too close. But as the late Robert Capa averred, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” This simple credo is one I unreservedly follow whenever I have a camera in my hand.
My name is Khoa A. Dao. I am a photographer. This is what i do:
I like to tell stories that my eyes see. My camera is my typewriter in drafting those stories. Or to non-hipsters and people too young to know about typewriters, my camera is Microsoft Word.
I enjoy photographing. Full stop. That said, fate and circumstance has led me to specialise in fencing photography, street photography, event and documentary photography, and portraiture. Surprisingly, I have yet to specialise in photographing empty whisky bottles.
I have developed a knack for photographing people taking pictures, sometimes of other people taking pictures. While I have yet been involved in the photographic equivalent of a Mexican standoff, I have been close.
I walk a fine line between confidence and outright arrogance when it comes to my photographic skills. Give me an iPhone 4, a flash light, and a white poster board, and I will make portraits that rival those made on a $25,000 Leica S. Now if only I can figure out how to successfully ask a woman out on a date . . . .
I am always finding new ways to improve my skills and work. I am rarely content with the ordinary and therefore have a need to challenge myself and outdo my previous work. How long will it take for me to fully master photography? From this day forward. As such, I am rarely seen without a camera in hand, even if I run the risk of perpetuating a certain Asian stereotype and get mistaken as a tourist. Or a hipster. I am not a hipster. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
I practice the photographic arts whenever I can, but I also practice a few other professions and activities: the profession of law, the practice of academia, the art of fencing, the hobby of carpentry, the study of medicine, the preaching of Scottish whisky, and the craft of becoming a Bond villain.
I create photographs for myself, for clients, and for the world to see. The greatest reward for me is seeing others view my work and be impacted in some way, even in the slightest. Or to receive a bottle of whisky as a bonus to my commission fee.
I am a photographer. This is what I do.
For inquiries on commissioning my services in the Chicago area, I welcome you to contact me at: [email protected]