K. Dao Photography: Blog https://www.kdao.photography/blog en-us (C) K. Dao Photography (K. Dao Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:06:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:06:00 GMT https://www.kdao.photography/img/s/v-12/u559452498-o472062190-50.jpg K. Dao Photography: Blog https://www.kdao.photography/blog 120 80 Of Cosplayers and Humans https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2017/4/of-cosplayers-and-humans

I grew up not dressing up in costume much.  Perhaps for a few Halloweens sporadically, and more so as an adult, but otherwise, I did not “play dress up” or anything of sorts.  This is how it was for the first three decades of my life, being indifferent and ignorant to the notion of donning a disguise, a costume, a mask.  I merely wanted to just be me and not present a façade.  Or so I though.  It was not until last year when by chance, I began questioning whether a costume is really a façade, or is it more indicative of who we truly are within.  

Over a year ago in December 2015, I was at the Hyatt Regency near O’Hare covering a Super Youth Circuit and Cadet fencing tournament.  That same weekend in the same hotel, the comic convention Con Alt Delete was taking place.  Whenever I would escape the fencing venue for a much needed coffee run through the hotel lobby, I would find myself transported to a completely different scene of cosplayers; attendees were wearing . . . everything and anything.  I found it just utterly fascinating, and the first thing that came to mind was the first time long ago when I first set foot in a foreign airport.  What particularly thrilled my mind at the time was the juxtaposition of the unusual against the backdrop of the usual.  Cosplayers were walking and milling about, interacting with non-costumed individuals.  I often say that the ordinary bores me.  This was anything but ordinary.  

I did not have much time to linger about with my camera and explore deeper given that my commission bound me to cover the fencing action instead.  So I would shoot whenever passing through for coffee or food.  As the weekend progressed, however, I grew quite despondent from the comments I would overhear from the fencers about the cosplayers.  Kids—particularly teenagers—can be quite mean and judgmental.  I heard remarks of ridicule, sneer, jeering, and disgust.  All the meanwhile, I was at a lost as to what have these cosplayers could have done to draw such derision and repulsion.  Is participating in an expression of one’s own interest such as dressing up as a favourite fictional character that directly harmful to another?  I found it quite ironic and hypocritical that a bunch of kids who actively meet up at hotels and convention halls often on the weekends to wear white uniforms and masks to fight each other with swords were mocking cosplayers—both are one and the same on a fundamental level.  

On a more positive note, though, I also began to develop a curiosity for this culture of cosplayers.  Their customs, practices, interactions, interests, simply captured my interest.  And so, a few months later in March 2016, I found out through a friend of an event in the city called C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  Thinking back to Con Alt Delete, I decided last minute to continue exploring this culture.  Not certain if it was worth purchasing a ticket, I decided instead to just linger around the lobby and do more of a surveying observation.  Of course, the best way really to do any sort of cultural study is to blend in and immerse oneself in said culture.  It was rather appropriate then that I recycled my Halloween costume from the previous year: a 1940s photojournalist for Life magazine.  

Even being in just the lobby of convention hall at McCormick Place, I found myself in a sea of the extraordinary, the unique, the bizarre--and I loved it.  A literal comparison would be the cantina scene from Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, but on a much larger scale.  The level of detailing in some of the costumers was utterly unbelievable.  It was not difficult to see the passion these individuals have for expressing themselves.  The time and effort that would go into such a creation just showed how much the costume’s wearer wanted to be that character, even if just for a day or so.  And that’s when it hit me: is a costume really a disguise masking the individual behind, or rather, is it a representation of what the individual really is internally?  After all, it is the wearer who chooses the costume, and in many of these cases, creates that costume.  That costume is in essence an expression of the wearer’s interest, personality, passion, soul.  Is the real façade actually how we present ourselves in everyday life, at work, at a bar, on blind dates, at gatherings with acquaintances?

Since then, I have continued to study this culture whenever I can, from covering a Star Wars lightsaber battle in Grant Park to allocating a little more time to observe the attendees at Con Alt Delete this past December while covering another fencing tournament.  My interest in all of this has transcended to a different level, from merely wanting to explore the bizarre and extraordinary to now studying human nature through this facet, and ultimately to study myself.  After all, is the study of different cultures really just the study of ourselves?

As of this writing, C2E2 2017 will be taking place this weekend.  I have months ago purchased a ticket badge for this Saturday, 22 April.  My mission objectives are simple: immerse myself into the culture of fandom and cosplayers, photo-document these cosplayers, interact with and learn from them, learn something about myself, and overall, have a bloody damn good and fun time.  It is therefore rather appropriate that as I make this journey into the bizarre and of myself that I will be “disguised” as the strung out and manic hippie photojournalist from Apocalypse Now, portrayed by the great Dennis Hopper.  

Of course, there is always the risk that just like the making of Apocalypse Now that my journey becomes too much like the storyline of that film and its source material, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, of starting out with an arrogant sense of omnipotence and optimism and slowly go insane the deeper I venture into the figurative jungle searching for (or becoming) a rogue poet warlord.  

. . . the horror . . . the horror . . . . 

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(K. Dao Photography) c2e2 comiccon conaltdelete cosplay cosplayer costume culture disguise portraits self https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2017/4/of-cosplayers-and-humans Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:03:58 GMT
Le jour de gloire est arrivé! https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/7/le-jour-de-gloire-est-arriv

On the afternoon of 14 July 1789, the people of Paris stormed the medieval fortress of the Bastille.  Their intent was to seize a cache of gunpowder for muskets they had commandeered earlier in anticipation of attacks from supporters of the king and nobility to suppress the uprising that had began two days earlier.  The Bastille stood not only as a garrison for the French military at the time, it also served as a political prison and represented the tyranny and abuse by the monarchy over the common people.  The storming of the Bastille by thousands of Parisians and its subsequent fall became the flashpoint of the French Revolution, the effects of which still ripple through our present day.  The 14th of July, or Le quatorze juillet, thereafter marks the National Day of France, or La fête nationale, a day to celebrate liberty against oppression and totalitarianism. 

I have had a special place my heart for French culture as far as I can remember.  This is not surprising given my Vietnamese heritage.  Although the French colonization of Vietnam lasted less than a century, the French heavily contributed and influenced modern Vietnamese culture, from Catholicism to the language to even something as simple as the humble banh mi sandwich.  Four years of taking French in high school solidified my endearment for French culture.  While throughout the years I have forged affections for several different cultures—most notably to my friends my misappropriation of the Scottish culture—I still feel a sense of gratification whenever I hear La Marseillaise blaring somewhere.  

It was pleasant surprise for me to discover last summer that Chicago hosts a Bastille Day celebration every year.  I am rather embarrassed to admit that I did not know about this sooner given that I have lived in this city since 2010.  Nevertheless, as I had the day free last year, I grabbed a rangefinder camera and did what I do best—observe, partake, and create.  

I first visited the Chicago French Market to see if they were doing anything special.  Asides from a few signs and decor, not much was going on, so I proceeded to Daley Plaza where the bulk of the Bastille Day celebrations were planned.  

I wandered around with my camera in hand, listening to live French rock music, observing pâtissiers and confectioners crafting decadent desserts, trying to figure out how one plays pétanque.   All the meanwhile, I had ambitions of attempting to converse in French and immerse myself into the micro cultural festivities.  I was and still am so woefully out of practice, however.  Most likely I would have sounded like the character of Officer Crabtree from the BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo!, lamentably.  So for the sake of my pride and the francophones’ ears, I stuck with English.  

The highlight of the celebrations that day, in my opinion, was the waiters’ race.  The combination of speed and stemware on a tray eventually leads to gravity prevailing.  I can attest to this first hand having been a server at a restaurant long ago.  If only my own spills back then lead to such hilarity.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend this year’s Bastille Day celebrations, this time at Montrose Beach up north.  My scheduling conflicts today should not prevent me from celebrating French culture in some way, though.  Perhaps banh mi for dinner is in order.  In any event, vive la France, vive la liberte!

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(K. Dao Photography) 14 July Bastille Day Chicago France French La fête nationale Le quatorze juillet daley plaza waiter race https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/7/le-jour-de-gloire-est-arriv Thu, 14 Jul 2016 22:29:35 GMT
The Story of the 2014 Remenyik https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/6/the-story-of-the-2014-remenyik The following was originally published on 18 December 2014 via the old K. Dao Photography blog.  This entry offers a glimpse in my process of covering a moderately sized fencing tournament, the annual Remenyik Regional Open Circuit at Northwestern University.

Photography is a type of communication.  It is a method through which the creator of an image conveys some message.  Whether it is a simple snapshot to act as a reminder note, a street photograph to convey social commentary of the times, or a carefully composed portrait to present a biography, a photograph states something.  I consider myself not just a photographer but an author as well, telling a story in each and every frame I present.

I returned to my photographic roots in late October when I knelt down by the side of an aluminium piste and framed fencers in action through a lens at the annual two-day Remenyik Regional Open Circuit.  While I have discussed much of street photography and photojournalism, it was through photographing fencers that my passion for this art flourished.   Before that, the vast majority of the images I made were random snapshots of family, friends, or travel locales, taken with a point-and-shoot camera often on automatic mode with no thought of exposure or composition.  They were not by my design.  The challenge of photographing fencing compelled me to do better, though.  It forced me to take my camera out of auto, to think before evening lift the camera to my eye, to be deliberate in making an image.  Photographing fencing ultimately turned me into a visual story teller.

I walked into the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion at Northwestern University that Saturday with both a literal and metaphorical weight on my shoulders—my heavy gear bag and the challenge to meet an ever increasing standard of quality, respectively.  The last time I had peered through a viewfinder and focused my lens on fencers was five months ago in May.  In fact, the last fencing images that I had published were from a World Cup.  My own self-expectations, therefore, were quite high.

It was not long after a few clicks of the shutter on familiar ground that it all came back to me.  While shooting fencing is not that dissimilar from photographing a wedding or documenting everyday life around town, there are some subtleties and directives to always keep in mind in this specialty:

-Never be in the fencers’ or the referee’s way; never interfere or intrude upon them, and never do anything that would affect the bout.  Give them a wide berth, and most of all, respect the referee’s working space at all cost, even if it means missing the shot.  This is my “prime directive” of fencing photography.

-It is not always about the action.  While many become awestruck and wowed by a still of a fencer in midair, more often than not, the “decisive moment” is actually right before or right after the scoring of a touch.  I personally see much more depth in a candid portrait of a fencer stepping off the piste and reflecting on the bout that just occurred than the action in the bout itself.  

-Be mindful of the spectators.  Their reaction to the fencing bout can add much impact as a vital photographic element to help tell the story.  As such they should be included in the frame whenever helpful.

-On similar lines as above, a fencing tournament does not solely contain fencing.  There are people everywhere interacting with one another: old teammates catching up and sharing stories, referees discussing where to drink afterwards, parents of competing fencers befriending one another . . . .  This is where fencing photography comes full circle to event and street photography (to me at least).

I took my leave and returned home later that evening with my usual catch for a large tournament, over 5000 raw images on my CF and SD cards.  That is still considerably less than the yield from a typical wedding.  After I transferred the gigabytes of images onto my hard drives, I took a quick glance at the digital contact sheets and found that I had indeed met my standard.  Despite the five-month hiatus, my eyes still served me well.

I returned Sunday morning for the second day of the tournament to finish the overall story.  Unlike the day before, I left a bit earlier, an hour before sunset to unwind from the intense atmosphere of clanging steel and soak in the warm colours of autumn around the Northwestern campus.  By the time I reached home after a long train ride, however, I was quite tired.  As much as I enjoy what I do with a camera, being on foot for hours with a camera hanging off each shoulder, constantly dashing around from bout to bout, and nourishing only on Clif Bars for lunch can be quite physically taxing.  Concentrating on framing and composition, shooting angle, and lighting adds to that exhaustion.  It is a good exhaustion, though, the kind one gets after a good hard day of accomplished work.

Of course, the work definitely does not end there.  Raw, unedited image files are only a rough draft of the story.  Equally as important as pressing the shutter release is the editing processing.  Of the total 9000 images from both days, I painstakingly and meticulously selected out 460 some photographs, ultimately.  These final images did not make the final cut randomly.  Rather, I have selected each and every one of these photographs deliberately to tell the various stories of those two days at the Remenyik.  Each photograph is there for a reason.  I can never be certain if my audience will see the same story that I am trying to tell, if at all, but each photograph, to my eyes, convey some message and meaning.

I had published these photographs on Facebook several weeks ago as part of an effort to reinvigorate my professional presence on social media.  To be fair, however, Facebook is the only social media outlet I publish my photos outside of this blog and website.  Most social media presents an intellectual property nightmare where photo theft and reposting without crediting the photographer is all too common.  Nevertheless, it is a give and take.  In order to reach out to my audience, I must bare the risk of having my work taken and redisplayed without receiving credit.  That is the reality these days, I suppose, but that is a discussion for another time.

 

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(K. Dao Photography) Northwestern University Remenyik fencing sport photography tournament https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/6/the-story-of-the-2014-remenyik Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:31:00 GMT
The Battle of the Jedi and Sith at Grant Park https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/6/the-battle-of-the-jedi-and-sith-at-grant-park

A long time ago last month on May the 4th in a city far, far away . . . downtown Chicago . . . the Jedi Order and Sith converged at Grant Park and engaged in combat.  Assuming the role of battlefield photojournalist, I covered the melee from both sides, attempting to tell the stories of heroes and villains alike. 

Both the Jedi and Sith consisted of seasoned warriors and novice volunteers, young and old, of different backgrounds among the ranks.  Some were merely younglings but showing the fierce courage of Wookies.  The Jedi appeared as noble as their reputation implied.  While the Sith were absolutely menacing, one cannot help but to admire their conviction to their point of view. 

     

Wielding only lightsabers and the Force, the Jedi and Sith clashed on the muddy grounds of Grand Park into a frenzied freeze mob.  The lines between good and evil quickly became blurred in the hurried and chaotic fray.   As I ducked and dashed around lightsabers, my boots struggling to find grip on the muddy ground, I framed and captured the action with my rangefinder.  The battle then moved east to the lakefront; it was uncertain which side initiated the retreated towards the water and which took pursuit.  I merely weaved between the columns of Jedi and Sith, documenting the eastward advance as the sun faded behind the city on the west.

 

The battle lines reformed at the steps of the Shedd Aquarium.  The Jedi charged first, but the Sith had the high ground.  They clashed (and froze) once again before shifting the fight to lower ground, closer to the water.  After another melee with no clear victor, the bulk of the warriors acknowledged each others’ prowess with the Force, saluted, and disbanded.  A few smaller skirmishes persisted well afterwards, though.  As the strife between the Jedi and Sith is deep, it is only a matter of time before they gather against each other again.  

       

I would like to personally express my thanks to all of the participants of the "May The 4th Be With You, Jedi vs. Sith Lightsaber Freeze Mob-Chicago," to the Chicago Jedi, and to the E.D.G.E. Theatre for putting on a fantastic display and for allowing me the opportunity to witness and document something majorly brilliant.  I am not sure if the Empire ever had photojournalists in mind, but it felt great being a part of the entire experience. Thank you!

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(K. Dao Photography) Chicago Grant Park Star Wars cosplay freeze mob jedi lightsaber sith https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/6/the-battle-of-the-jedi-and-sith-at-grant-park Tue, 14 Jun 2016 22:00:00 GMT
Dear Annamaria https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/2/dear-annamaria

The following is an open letter to my friend and fellow photographer Annamaria.  Annamaria took up the photographic arts over a year ago.  Seeing a few of her early images, I noticed that she possessed a natural talent despite the lack of formal and technical training.  With proper encouragement and tutorage, I foresaw her becoming a very skilled artist.  And so I took it upon myself to train her as I had trained myself years ago, by bringing her out to the streets of Chicago and roam around with a camera in hand.  Although she had moved away only months after I began mentoring her, she has continued her photographic pursuits and indeed has excelled since.  Although I continue to occasionally give her technical advice through our correspondences, I see her more as a colleague now than protégée. 

 

16 February 2016

Dear Annamaria,

I hope this letter finds you well!  It has been too long since we last sat down for a strong drink and talk about the art we practice.  If memory serves me correctly, this last happened in the end of October when you were in Chicago for the a weekend fencing tournament, and we exchanged prints of our respective works over beers at a brew pub.  October.  Damn.  It HAS been too bloody long!

Given that I have been studying for yet another exam—they never end for me, it seems—I have been camped in for winter quarters in my flat since New Year.  Never content to remain stationary for any length of time, though, I cannot help but to wander out once in a while with a camera in hand.  I do miss the relative freedom I enjoyed months ago in November and December.  Despite all of the papers I had due then, I felt more at ease of dropping whatever work was on my desk and jet off into town to see if I can just get that shot.  THE shot.  The elusive decisive moment that I often would drone on about to you over a swig of whisky.  

You know that in my core I am a street photographer.  I may be more known for my work in covering fencing tournaments, and I do enjoy being strip-side with my lenses, but roaming around an urban jungle not knowing what scene I may serendipitously stumble upon is where my photographic passion lies.  This is why in my most recent commissioned shoot—engagement portraits for a couple in January—I suggested downtown Chicago as the backdrop.  

Admittedly, I was playing it safe.  Downtown is very familiar to me, perhaps too familiar.  You know too well how much I detest the banal and ordinary, and so will often try to do something different, something that is not typical.  But given that I did not have the opportunity to meet this couple for an in-person consultation and collaboration until the day of the shoot, I figure that familiar ground would be a wise choice.  That way, I could concentrate on sizing up the couple’s personalities and, on the fly, direct them in frame to better bring out their character.  As you know, a portrait should not merely show the subject’s superficial likeness but convey something deeper—a story, character, soul. 

Of course, I do much of my work downtown.  I have said before that to my eyes, downtown Chicago is a theatre stage showing a different play every day.  The storyline differs; some characters are the same, some are new, some take on a different form.  Although the stage and set pieces are the same, the story is always changing.  It never gets boring.  There is always a plot twist here and there.  

One of the stories on the Chicago stage that I came across in December taught me the difference between pure photojournalism and artistic street photography.  While both fall under the general auspice of reportage photography—observational and non-interfering—photojournalism does not allow for the freedom in artistic expression and commentary found in street photography.  A photojournalist’s job is to report what is happening.  Indeed, as a duty, a journalist in general seeks out events to truthfully and objectively record and present to the public.  A street photographer is not bound by such duty and so has more subjectivity and leeway in what to present or not present.  

By mid November, Chicago became a political and social powder keg.  You might say that it usually is.  You know that I consider myself a moderate on the political spectrum, a range that appears to have less of a place in these days of far extremes.  I also have a personal policy of political neutrality in my public speech.  It is all too easy to loose objectivity and rational thought in a political discussion, especially these days.  Even when the intent is to merely report, the reported event itself can become perverted to serve some means.  And so when I stumbled upon a Black Lives Matter protest at State and Washington Street on an early December evening with a rangefinder slung over my shoulder, I uncharacteristically hesitated.  One of your favourite photographers, Martin Parr, is noted to have once said, “All photography is propaganda.”  I found the thought of tossing more gasoline into the inferno an affront to my political neutrality stance.  

Despite my initial hesitation, it was not long before I brought my rangefinder to my eye, framed, focused, and photographed.  Regardless of my own views, I felt that I could not ignore the opportunity to capture something as such.  I could not say that such an event was unusual at the time; between Thanksgiving and Christmas, protests were occurring throughout the city on a daily basis.  

This brings me to why I now know I cannot be a photojournalist in the purist sense but rather am a street photographer in the artistic sense.  A photojournalist would have displayed these images immediately despite the risk of swaying the public.  News becomes old and stale after the sun rises the following day.  As objective as a journalist may depict an event, there is always the risk that another will twist it to serve some agenda.  I could not bring myself to show those images so timely.  My political neutrality stance is one thing; I did not want to contribute to the fiery atmosphere, nor did I wish my work to be contorted into a propaganda tool.  But I also felt it would have been dishonest of me to exploit the climate for my own artistic gain and social media Likes.  My motivation to make those images on that evening was more aesthetic than objective reporting.  I wanted to tell a story of conflict and unrest in those frames.  I wanted to show a human trait, that despite our common goal should be one of peace and cooperation, we are all too prone towards conflict.  And that is it.  

It has been months now, and the protesting has died down a bit in the city.  People seem to be more concerned with the weather stabilizing and spring to arrive.  I myself am looking forward to March to for various reasons.  As well as roaming the streets looking of that decisive moment, I am hoping to return to covering fencing tournaments.  The last time I shoot a tournament was the Windy City Fencing SYC and Cadet before Christmas.  Although the last two tournaments that I was commissioned to shoot were rather physically taxing, I do miss jumping from one strip to another, ducking and dodging épéeists flèching right towards me.  I cannot say that I miss the Clif Bar rations, although Culver Academy indeed fed me a proper lunch when I covered their high school open in early December.  I really should include a meal clause in future dealings. 

From the Midwest High School Open at Culver Academy, 12 December 2015. From the Windy City Fencing SYC and Cadet, 18-20 December 2015.

Hopefully, time will allow us to once again to sit down over a drink and go over our recent works.  I am very interested in seeing how much you have progressed since October, especially given how much of a natural eye you have for photography.  Even better would be to once again go on our street walks with our cameras and hunt for that elusive decisive moment.  Preferably in better weather than last time, though.  

Your friend and colleague,

Khoa

 

To see Annamaria's work, please visit her blog, Vidachrome, at https://vidachrome.wordpress.com and her Vidachrome Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/vidachrome/‚Äč

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(K. Dao Photography) Chicago artistic blogging engagement fencing letter photojournalism portraits protest street photography urban https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2016/2/dear-annamaria Thu, 18 Feb 2016 01:37:52 GMT
Against Stagnation https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2015/12/against-stagnation

Part of being human is change.  For better or for worse, the changes we make, the changes around us, and how we adapt to such define who and what we are.  I am rarely content with a banal routine.  To live life without change—active or passive—is to live a life of stagnation.  My mind naturally rebels against stagnation.

I do not have a particular date to mark when I officially became a photographer of a professional caliber.  My journey has been more of a progression as I sought out and gained experience to hone my skills.  The disadvantage of teaching oneself a skill is that there is no “graduation” per se as with a formal course curriculum.  Indeed, it seems in my case that the lessons never end.  And so when I established K. Dao Photography in early 2012, I never exactly got a grasp on how to market my services and my work.

The first K. Dao Photography presence took on the shoddy form of a hashed together Facebook page and an obscure online gallery and printing service called Fototime.  It was not long until I realised after being inundated with questions as to how to access my work that I was not reaching a viable audience . . . if any audience at all.  In fact, it took a while for me to even print out business cards to hand out to at fencing tournaments let alone develop networking skills.  Not until a year into law school that I understood the necessity of networking in general that I decided to put a more concerted effort into such in my photography.

By the autumn of 2013, in an effort to establish more of an online presence, I did what many photographers online have done—I started a photo blog.  (Instagram was and still is not a viable option for me.)  I had figured that a periodic, non-social media display of my work would garner an sizable audience finally.  Once again, though, as the famous adage the great British television persona Jeremy Clarkson often proclaims, I was “ambitious but rubbish.”  Two years of the blog had yielded a handful of loyal readers, to whom I am very thankful and grateful.  My content, though, was still not compelling enough to draw in a wider viewership.  My primary subject matter—fencing and street photography—is esoteric at best and lacks the ability to peak the interest of a general audience expecting images of weddings and sleeping new borns.  And so my blog floundered.  The infrequency of my postings due to having so much going on in my life and trying to figure out what to write about did not help, either.

The second version of the old K. Dao Photography blog site. The first version looked like something from 1997.

The content on my photo blog became banal.  I even lost motivation to update my portfolio that contained images from 2012.  Fencers and parents wishing to purchase prints of my work from tournaments continued to inquire where and how to find them.  The system as I had it was not working.

Eventually, I did receive some education in marketing from law school of all places.  Working at a trademark law pro bono clinic for a year taught me the importance of branding, image, and marketing.  This had supplemented what I had learned about marketing in passing from observing legendary brands such as Apple, Leica, and Magnum Photos, all of whom at one point were on the verge of obscurity before bouncing back.  What finally convinced me that I must change the dichotomic blog-gallery system I had, ironically, was writing a blog post that involved Dieter Rams’s Ten Principles of Good Design.  According to Rams, good design:

1. Is innovative.
2. Makes a product useful.
3. Is aesthetic.
4. Makes a product understandable.
5.  Is unobtrusive.
6. Is honest.
7. Is long-lasting.
8. Is thorough down to the last detail.
9. Is environmentally friendly.
10. Is as little design as possible.

I began researching for an online gallery and printing provider that would not only suit my needs for sustainability and marketing but also provide a seamless way for my audience and patrons to find, view, and purchase my works.  My search ultimately lead me to, stupidly simply, the most highly rated provider among professional photographers: Zenfolio.  After weighting out the costs versus the benefits, it was a no-brainer to switch over.  My older system was slipping into stagnation.  It was time to rebel against such.

In a span of a fortnight, I had meticulously carved out a satisfactory interface.  Using a broad template, I modified layout of the new site keeping in mind Rams’ design principles.  I became obsessed not only with piecing together a new portfolio and gallery scheme but so much as so to the typeface itself.  I have come to believe that typeface in itself has a subconscious impact on how we read the letters and words they portray.  Indeed, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit published a six-page article on typography, and who an forget the 80-minute documentary film Helvetic.

Typeface testing.

On the fifth of November a month ago, I launched the new face of K. Dao Photography.   With it came the new website that integrates my portfolios, print galleries, private client albums, and a new blogging forum all under one portal.  With a new but familiar logo and a streamlined domain name, visitors to www.kdao.photography will first encounter a splash page featuring a clear menu and slide show of my eclectic works as an overture.  From there, visitors can view my portfolio that represents my best works; an exhibition album featuring a monthly exhibition of a project of some theme for a limited duration; a gallery housing albums of photographs with professionally made prints available for purchase; a portal for clients to privately view their commissioned works; and a news page to read current developments.

The new K. Dao Photography.

The new site represents more than just a new interface through which my audience may interact.  To me, it is symbolic of my growth as a photographer and a professional.  It shows that only after making errors and mistakes that I can learn to better myself.  Is the new K. Dao Photography perfect?  Probably still not.  But that is because I am an imperfect being striving to be better than I once was.

It has been a month since the new launch, and I find myself still in the period of transition as I am redirecting my small but loyal audience over to the new site.  Since then, I have been in the process of converting the old K. Dao Photography blog into a more general forum that will allow me to write on any topic and more in an opinionated manner such as how I believe that the 8x10 framing format should be abolished already or how I am disturbed by the general lack of knowledge people have over their constitutional rights.  I aim to have all transitions complete by the end of the year.  For the time being, I will continue on doing what I have been doing—find new ways to improve myself and rebel against stagnation.

Components of my Halloween costume this year. It's all about the details.

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(K. Dao Photography) https://www.kdao.photography/blog/2015/12/against-stagnation Mon, 07 Dec 2015 20:54:50 GMT