Tuesday night was the night of the auction. Since Jon would be downtown just getting off work at the time the sample portrait needed to be there, he took everything and set it all up for me. He came home telling me there was tons of stuff there, and we needed to be back there at 9-ish to pick everything up.
Before we left, I put on a cute top--just in case we met the person who bid on my services, I wanted to look artsy. :) We got to Joe T's, and it was a madhouse of people. The auction had just ended, and everyone was in a long line...for what I don't know, but it was something about claiming their purchases. We made it through to my portrait pretty quickly. There was a small table right next to it, with a framed piece of paper explaining what was being bid on, and my business cards in front of that. The stack of business cards was noticeably smaller than the stack I sent with Jon, so that was exciting.
Then I saw another framed piece of paper--this time for another photographer, with a value of $600!! Sheesh. Were all the donations that generous?? I knew at this stage I couldn't afford more than the $150 I gave, so I didn't feel bad in that way, I just felt kind of small. That coupled with the fact that I found the rest of the stack of business cards underneath my portrait kind of deflated my balloon a little.
I wandered around looking for the coordinator--I'd never met her, and thought someone might care if they saw a random person walking off with a large portrait. I didn't find her, but I did find all the other auction items. Thankfully, it seemed $600 was toward the high end of things, and there were a lot of $25 and $50 items. Usually, with charity auctions, items go for much higher than their value--a cake for $150 for example--but given the volume of donations, I'm wondering if things went for less than their value.
Finally, Jon and I just packed up the portrait and left. I did find someone who looked somewhat important and told her I was taking it. She said that was fine. She didn't ask my name or anything...weird.
All in all, it was a weird experience. Not quite what I'd expected, but I'm hoping it gave me a little more publicity than I'd had. What I've learned in marketing is that if your name is out there, it's out there. It's not always easy to put numbers on how valuable that is, but it's valuable every time. And even if I don't make any more money or connections out of this auction, it still gave me a good deadline to get my website up, my business cards together, and my price sheet finalized. So I'm glad I did it.
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