UNEXPECTED VISION:  Amidst the hustle and rigor of Washington society, gems of surprise enter the scene when you least expect it.  Meet photographer Chip Kahn, a great example of living in the fullness of your passion.

by Patrick D. McCoy

The longer that you live and work in Washington, you begin to realize that various worlds collide when you least expect it.  An evening at an recent gala fundraiser hosted by Opera Lafayette was a classic example.  For this particular outing, we were seated at dinner at a table hosted by JoAnn Willis, who presided over the evening’s proceedings.  Towards the end of the night, the conversation turned in the direction of Chip Kahn, a local photographer to some and to others:  Charles N. Kahn, III, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals.  We got to meet the photographer!

Recently we took in a showing of his street photography at Studio A, a local DC gallery and gained some perspective on how he became interested in photography alongside balancing a full-time career.

Patrick D. McCoy:  How did you initially become interested in photography?

Chip Kahn:  I travel a great deal and had dabbled in photography over the years. About seven years ago, I decided to try photography on open evenings during in Nashville around the country western clubs and at the same time became intrigued with Leica cameras and lenses.  Eventually, I concentrated on street photography and connected with Stella Johnson, an acclaimed Boston-based photographer, who became teacher and mentor.

PM:  Where do find the inspiration in balancing your ‘day job’ with something that most would only see as an hobby?

CK:  Street photography has become a passion. It both provides me an avenue for self-expression, and on the street I find a Zen-like zone of concentration and focus when out shooting.  I obsess about taking the kinds of photographs that the late, noted photographer René Burri described as “capturing the pulse of life.”

PM:  Where do you see your work going?  Is there a continuous story or narrative that you would hope that a person see in your work?

CK:  Street photography is about storytelling and that is what I am about. My initial goal has been to gain proficiency and master the basics for documentation of the noteworthy moment or beautiful light and color.  Now, I am turning more to black and white with the goal of worrying less about keeping the image in focus then capturing the impressionistic sense of a moment that will capture the attention of the viewer and give them something to think about.  I hope to carry this into a number of series of images that provide a sense of our times.

So the next time that you are at an event, let a fresh new conservation guide you.  By doing so, you may discover the creative nature of another person that perhaps share a similar passion.

For more information on Chip’s work, CLICK HERE


–A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Patrick D. McCoy is a graduate of Virginia State University and Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.  He has been an arts contributor for Examiner.com, CBS Washington, The Afro American Newspaper and most recently was the Performing Arts Columnist at Washington Life Magazine for four years. As a church musician, he currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church (Zion Parish) in Beltsville, Maryland.   Visit www.patrickdmccoy.com for all of your arts news and send press releases and ideas to patrickdmccoy@patrickdmccoy.com.