A Sociable Personality / by Felix Wong

Aleutian Ballad
Sony A7 with Leica Summicron-C 40/2
Ketchikan, AK
Felix Wong © 2014

About being sociable... I started out as someone pretty awkward in a social setting. Since my primary school days (elementary school, for my American friends), I never really interacted much outside of a small circle of friends in a classroom and never really stuck around after school.

Long story short, I pretty much tried to live up to the romantic notion of the lone wolf, thinking that I "don't need nobody's help to do squat". Now as a slightly different man, I am going to tell you straight up that it is a very lame, tiring and depressing way to live life.

I feel that the fundamental reasons that people act and live that way, like the way I did, is the fear of rejection and a lack of self-acceptance. I feared being rejected as a person in a social circle, so I didn't get too involved in the first place to see if I'd even be accepted as a friend. But us human beings are social animals and have a primal need to be accepted, so how? Some of us choose to use other means to gain acceptance, maybe by being Mr Know-it-all (been there, done that), some choose to be Mr Fix-it-all, others choose to get super bossy and aggressive; then there are those who think that by being super self-reliant, people will be drawn to them and become dependent on them and hence start his/her own social circle.

Frankly, I now think that doing all that is just getting it all ass-backwards. Not everyone in your immediate vicinity needs your knowledge, not everyone in your immediate vicinity needs something fixed... but everyone could use a buddy. Someone to just be there for good times, or help weather through some bad times. Once you can accept yourself as a flawed person who is doing your darndest to get by in life, just like everyone else, the walls will come down and you will be more free to strike a conversation and make a bold move.

Snapshot of an Embrace
Sony A7 with Leica Summicron-C 40/2
Ketchikan, AK
Felix Wong © 2014

Ok so how does all that grandfather history relate to the images in this post?

Well, there's a certain view of town I was trying to capture. Try as I may, the vantage points that I tried out were extremely challenging and were full of obstacles. The aft-deck (marine talk for "back of the boat" basically) of the Aleutian Ballad offered the best viewing angle and height of the town, and I needed to get there fast while the light was getting good. I contemplated at first to just gate-crash my way in and get in and get out, but I thought about it again and decided it was too much of a dick-move.

Then I thought: "Come on Felix, just bloody ask them! A question never killed anyone!"

Me: "Hey there..."
Big guy: "Hi!"
Me: "My name is Felix and I'm a photographer looking for interesting spots around town to photograph. What's your name and what's going on here?"
Frank: "My name is Frank and we're having a end-of-season party for the sea pilots (professional ship pilots who get hired to navigate giant cruise ships through the narrow channel in Ketchikan), what's up?"
Me: "I'd like to get to the aft-deck to get a clear view of town to capture it in this lovely golden light."
Frank: "Cool, come onboard and snap away!"

Whoa that was easy, huh?
What's the best that could happen when I asked? I can get a yes and go down easy street.
What's the worst that could happen? I get a no and I'm already looking for alternative views anyway.

I'm a win-win kind of guy, so I thought there's still time and I got a camera on me, I might as well take some nice shots of this cool little party for them to keep.

Mingling Crowd
Sony A7 with Leica Summicron-C 40/2
Ketchikan, AK
Felix Wong © 2014

After getting the shots I wanted and getting additional pictures of this private event, I approached Frank to thank him for the hospitality. Just as I was about to speak, he offered me some of the awesome Alaska-fresh seafood that was being prepared and served.
I regrettably had a full dinner already so I turned his offer down and thanked him proper. I also got the organizations email address for me to send the images to.

"Maybe next year!" said Frank.

Maybe indeed.

Ketchikan in Gold
Sony A7 with Leica Summicron-C 40/2
Stitched panorama
Ketchikan, AK
Felix Wong © 2014

Be friendly, be bold. Say "hi", say "it's nice to meet you" and mean it!
Don't hide behind your gear and try not to assume that your need for the best shooting angle means you can be a social ass-clown about it.
Go ahead and share similar experiences in the comments. Maybe some other photographer was an ass-clown to you and you would like them to know that you would've been OK with it if only they'd just ask first... let them know in the comments below!

Until next time, keep creating art and don't give it up for anything!

Felix Wong