Knocking On Doors When No One is Home

The majority of photographers are on the outside, so are writers, artists and journalists. Outside the comfort zone of a secure company position. The freelancer has no choice but to try and connect with those within who hold the power to commission, support and encourage, but no matter how often you knock many choose to not be at home.

This is of course a metaphor. They are at home, but not to you. Not to your emails or polite requests to engage in some form of conversation. It is hard to ignore a telephone call and so telephone numbers are made hard to find. Emails are easy to ignore, but direct email information is also difficult to secure. When found emails sent are too often ignored.

This is a reality that many of you already know, it happens to me and I know that it happens to you. I am writing this so that you don’t take being ignored personally. It is not about you, it is about them.

Why it happens I don’t know. I hear that people are too busy, but that’s not true, no one is too busy to acknowledge an email. No one is too busy to pick up a phone in the creative industries. Maybe it’s just bad manners but can so many people be so badly mannered? I don’t think so. Is it that COVID has left people with a fear of social interaction? Maybe, I have seen this, but how can this continue in an industry based on communication?

I don’t have any answers. However, what I do know is that we should do to others as we wish unto ourselves. If we don’t like being ignored we shouldn’t ignore others, if we are struggling we should support others who are struggling and if we keep finding a closed door in front of us we should speak up and ask for it to be opened.

Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.

© Grant Scott 2023


  1. Thanks for posting this Grant, as at the moment I’m finding it hard to connect to potential clients online via email and also via LinkedIn. Unless you have a personal connection with a client it’s very hard to build that connection online… someone once said that you need 7 points of contact/connection with a potential client, but how does one do that?

    As you said, it’s hard to find out the exact email address for the person in a company who commissions photography as most just have generic emails for @studio etc…. And I’ve found that some companies are unwilling to give out the emails of the marketing/Comms person who deals with photography……. You do feel that you’re trying to constantly push open a closed door…..

    Kind Regards,

    James Winspear

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