I never cease to be amazed at some people’s inability to use their imaginations and, for one moment, put themselves in another person’s shoes. It’s not that I expected my previous post on this topic to obliterate the habit, really, I just continue to find it surprising.

A gentleman came into the gallery this afternoon to show me his wildlife photography (he failed to adhere to rules 4 and 6 of the previous post, but did okay with the rest). Besides seeming a bit self-important, he was a friendly enough gent and proceeded to tell me about a particular photo he had taken at a to-remain-nameless national park. He explained that, after he returned from his trip and saw how amazing his photo had turned out, the first thing he did was get on the phone with the folks at the national park, to see if they were interested in it. Then, rather grumpily, he told me that he wasn’t let to speak to the man in charge but could only talk to the man’s personal assistant. “She wanted me to send her the photograph,” he huffed, giving me a knowing look. “I said, I’m not sending you nothing.”

“What did you expect them to do for you without letting them see the photograph?” I asked.

He was afraid of them stealing his image. “And, anyway, if I’m going to do business with them,” he said, “I’m going to do it in person and not over the phone.” He felt that  she wasn’t the one he needed to be talking to. He wants to talk to her superior. The one who makes the decisions.

Not sparing his feelings, I laid it out plain for him.

“Why should they give you their time when they don’t even know if the photo is any good or not?” I asked. “Maybe if Ansel Adams was calling they’d be a little more receptive, but they don’t know you from anyone. And treat that personal assistant with respect. She’s the gatekeeper; it’s her job to work with people like yourself, and if you want your photo to go somewhere with the parks you’re going to have to jump through their hoops. You should send the picture. If you don’t feel comfortable sending a digital file, don’t. Send them a printed 4×6 if you’re really afraid of them reproducing it.”

How can an artist expect to even discuss their unsolicited work with anyone without being prepared to show their work? Even if he had been let to speak with Mr. Man In Charge, did he think he would get anywhere just by saying that he took a great photograph? Is Mr. Man In Charge supposed to take him seriously just because he says so? It would be like if I called up a literary agent to ask if they would represent me, bypassing the querying process, and, oh by the way, Ms. Agent, I won’t send you my manuscript until you sign me, but trust me it’s good.

I don’t think so.

If you want to be treated like a professional, you’d better act like a professional, people! And treat others with respect. What makes this fellow think he is too important to talk to someone’s personal assistant? The fact that Mr. Man In Charge even has an assistant means he’s too busy to talk to you, and if you offend his gatekeeper you may find that she’s too busy to talk to you too.

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