You will not get through your career as a photographer without someone asking you to donate your work or a photo session to an auction. I have several people that ask me to donate photography for their auctions every year. When I first started getting requests, I said yes to anyone who asked me to donate for an auction because I was still developing my business. Giving back to your community is very important; however, there a few guidelines you should follow when you contribute your work to an auction.
- Donating a photography session is a great way to find potential clients. Just don’t say yes to every auction that comes your way. If you give away too many donated sessions, you will not make a profit for your business. Choose a charity or organization that is personally important to you and only give back to those causes. I only donate my work to two or three auctions every year because I have supported those organizations for special reasons.
- Be very specific with your donated gift certificate. Always include an expiration date. Make sure your wording is exactly how you want it to be displayed. I donated a senior photo session to an auction at a local high school that my husband and I support. Instead of the senior session, the winner wanted to have a family photo shoot. I usually say no to this type of request, but I was able to work it out with the winner, who ended up being someone I personally knew. However, now when I donate to an auction, I always write “no exchanges or substitutions” on the certificate. The client only receives what is stated on the certificate. This doesn’t mean the winner won’t ask for a different kind of session instead. It is your personal choice on whether you want to make that exchange for the client. In addition, double check with the director of the auction to make sure your session certificate matches the bid sheet before the event. During a recent auction, the director assumed I was giving away the same session that I did the year before and didn’t read my session I was giving away for this year’s auction. Therefore, there was confusion on what the session winner was receiving from me. Thankfully, the winner didn’t have a problem. However, not everyone will be as understanding.
- If you have the opportunity, go look at the space where your auction item will be located. If it isn’t a good space, ask the person in charge if you can display your session and work in a better spot. I donate to an auction every year that raises money for a preschool program. The director of the preschool always gives me enough space to display at least four or five framed prints of my work, along with room for my business cards. Make sure you have plenty of space to display your work so potential clients can get a sense of your style of photography.
- If the auction is not online, be present at the auction if possible and stand next to your display. I do my best to attend each auction so I can meet and talk with potential clients. At a recent auction, I stood next to my display and spoke to everyone that walked by. The more I spoke to people, the more interest I had with them writing down a bid to win my family photo session. If a family didn’t win the session, they still took a business card with them, which is still a chance for me to build my business with new clients. I also spoke to families after the auction, made sure they had a business card, and encouraged them to contact me to set up a session.
I always love speaking to families and potential clients at auctions. They are a great way to promote your business, increase your profits, and donate your work and skills to a cause that is important to you. Following these steps will insure a successful donation for your business!
I am a natural light photographer who loves to capture special memories for my clients. I specialize in engagements, high school seniors and most recently weddings. However, my favorite subject to shoot are families and children. Taking pictures of kids always puts a smile on my face.I received my B.F.A. from Brenau University in 2005 and my master's in education in December 2013 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I started taking photos of my friends and family and it developed into a business. I love reading, volunteering, and spending time with my husband when I'm not shooting. My website | Facebook page