January 08, 2010

When I Can't Break Through

I like to think that I’ve invested time and money into my photographic aspirations because of a desired career change. However, considering certain photo shoots and events outside of photography, perhaps I’m just avoiding deeper issues which need to be resolved.

I recall a recent shoot which happened one month ago; for the prevention of burned bridges, I won’t say which one. However, this shoot was a somewhat painful experience for me. I took a few good photos, but I had no genuine interaction with the subject at all; there was an invisible wall between us. She had a few friends who were talking to her during the shoot, but they might as well have been her security detail. Other than our initial greetings, I don’t remember saying anything else to her - not even goodbye. I ended up feeling like an intruder on a conversation in a language I didn’t understand.

It’s a good thing that Nicky isn’t a person; she’d be upset if I told her that I sometimes use her to help me interact with people. As you can see, this technique doesn’t always work, but at least I don’t leave photo shoots empty-handed. However, what if Nicky is not around to act as my security blanket?

I got a painful answer to that question on New Year’s Day.

My evening was already disappointing due to IMAX screenings of Avatar being sold out, even though I arrived one-and-a-half hours before the start time. Mind you, this would have been my second viewing. After deciding to postpone this repeat viewing to the following week, I eventually decided to go to a gospel music dance party at Dovercourt House. The event started much earlier in the day and there was only one hour left in its duration when I arrived. I didn’t think of the possible negative implications of those facts, but I instead focused on the opportunity to meet new people. As I went up the stairs to the sound of "This Little Light Of Mine," I prepared to pay the admission fee and looked forward to a better start to 2010.

In short, the event was a social disaster for me.

Even before I made my way to the far end of the room, I saw that the attendees were already in their cliques. That is not meant to be a disparaging statement; I’m only saying that each clique represented a group of friends (or, at the very least, acquaintances). Some were dancing and some were sitting, but none of them seemed eager to start a conversation with a stranger, and I wasn’t in any mood to risk rejection. There were two people who tried breaking the ice, but after about forty-five minutes of interpersonal stalemate, I prepared to leave. As I was putting on my coat, one of the attendees came over to talk to me, but her interaction was rooted more in pity than any genuine desire. I was past hoping for a good time, so any thoughts of dancing or prolonging our conversation evaporated like the hopes of a prisoner as he is strapped to the electric chair.

Most people would agree that I’m too young to be jaded about social interaction; after all, I’m only thirty years old. However, with or without my camera gear, it’s sometimes one heck of fight to connect with people. For every reason to come out of my shell, I can think of ninety-nine as to why I should stay inside.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 2, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.)

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