Final update. May 8th. Alright. Sorry it took me a few days to follow up on all this. I have not been ignoring the e-mails. Well ok, I have. But only because after pouring so much energy into this event over the last month, once Thursday night was finished I needed to set it all aside for a couple of days. I still feel pretty wiped in that regard, but I wanted to let you all know just how we all did. My fundraising event page with Mercy Corps took in $1420 that night. In addition, I know of $150 in donations made to the cause before I set up that page specifically. I also know of at least two other donations made to Mercy Corps since that did not go to my page specifically. So it is safe to say that total, we raised something north of $1600 for Mercy Corps' Japanese Disaster Relief Fund. I consider that a hell of a success. Sure, a higher number would have been nice. But $1600 will still do a heckuva lot of good over there. So thank you for all your help, everyone.
I do want to briefly, but pointedly thank a couple of people. First off, are Morgan Leedy and Vin of The Fresh Pot. Morgan is the art curator for The Fresh Pot. She gave the go ahead for the event to take place there, showed up to help me hang it, staffed the night of and was there tonight to help me take it down. In all, she is nothing short of awesome. Vin also gets a big thank you as the manager of The Fresh Pot. He donated his night to run the counter on Thursday. A cool dude too. Continuing with The Fresh Pot theme, thank you Damian. Damian was my liaison with TFP and was ultimately the one who landed them as the host for this event. It would not have happened there without him. He was also part of my set up crew the night before. Rounding out that crew was B, Wendi and O. Thank you to all three of you for helping me shlep work around and see that it got up on the walls. And then also to all my co-staff at Blue Moon for the myriad little ways they helped over the weeks, from receiving donated art work on my days off, to making extra enlargements to donate, to putting up with me being mildly distracted by all of this, and then for showing up themselves. They are all grand. Except you, Sean. You're part-time-grand.... just kidding. ;-)
And where to from here? Good question and I have given it a lot of thought. About half of everything donated, sold. But then you figure that I ended up with about 80 donated pieces and it does not take a math whiz to realize I still have about 40 pieces left over, which is a show and a half, if not two. I am tempted to do something with all of this. But I think I am going to pass and return the work. I am a bit worn out, I need a bit of time to recuperate and I have a few other projects that got set aside that deserve my attention now. My schedule is also screwy. I am here this week, then will not be around the week after. So something would have to happen really soon, like now, or wait two weeks to get organized. The idea of an on-line sale has been broached a number of times. I am leery of the immense amount of work that would have to occur behind the scenes in terms of getting everything into a digital format, cataloged, a website organized and populated, and then the business of selling and shipping it all. It is more than I am able to bite off right now.
That isn't to say I didn't really enjoy this experience. I did. I learned a lot and it was extremely gratifying to put my photography to a use greater than myself. It has caused me to become so much more quickly tired of the ego-driven game that so many other photographers seem willing to play. In fact, I am pretty sure I am going to do something like this again. Maybe not a fundraiser specifically. But I am going to keep looking for ways I can put my experience and skills to use to further a cause greater than simply promoting myself or selling my work. Be that through more volunteering, through another event like this, or I am even thinking of working to land a grant to undertake a larger photographic project. All in good, patient time though.
And I hope. I really, really hope that some of you who participated, or watched even, will have learned something from all this too. I hope some of you will remember this in the future, and recognize a moment where you could do something too. It does not have to be grand, just do something good with your abilities. Photography can be so much more than just Front Page. So much more than selling a few prints or having your own show. So much more than making a book or winning a major contest. It is not cliche to say that you can use it to change the world. Just look at this. Somewhere, somebody in Japan will benefit from what we did here with our photography. We will never know the extent of that, nor will we even meet them. But we will have done something. Remember that. It is possible.
In terms of left over work, I will be in touch over this next week if I have something of yours. It will all be stored at Blue Moon Camera and available for pick up at your convenience. If you would rather I just keep it, I am willing to do that too, and if I end up with enough left over, then maybe in two weeks I will look at organizing something small to sell off the rest and send that money on over to Mercy Corps too.
Anyway, this is the last time you will see this image refreshed. Just want to say thank you again everyone. It was a good experience, I am glad we did this.
And yes, you can still donate to the cause. The link is above. Please feel free to do so.
Update 29 April 2011: So just under a week to go before the night of the event. I will say this more than once over the next week or so, but thank you everyone who donated work to the event. I currently have over 50 pieces, and with the remaining promised pieces the show is going to have over 60 and possibly 70 works for sale to raise money for Mercy Corps. I appreciate the assistance greatly. I may be the one organizing this, but I could not have done it without all your help. Again, thank you.
At this point I need attendance by a crowd meaning to purchase the work and fulfill its purpose. So I am encouraging everyone who is thinking of attending to bear in mind that the venue is small and is going to be crowded. I don't want to limit the crowd or the moral support, but mind you that if you are not planning on buying work, you will be making it more difficult for those who do plan to do so. The event is public though and word of mouth has been awesome to this point, so please feel free to encourage family or friends to attend.
Also, you are welcome to make donations to Mercy Corps ahead of time and bring a printout of your receipt as a voucher. You can do this if you would like to make the evening slightly less complicated for me, and would care to donate from home. The prices of the pieces are going to vary greatly, but I am telling people if they are planning on making pre-donations to do so in $25 increments. Most bare prints will be $25. Most matted prints will be $50 and most framed work will be $75.
Also, I should warn you that work is going to sell right off the wall. So if the turnout is robust enough, this event could in theory be finished by 7:30 or 8 if everything sells. I am normally a big fan of the fashionably late entrance to art shows, but I would not recommend it in this case. :-)
Other than that, I am spending this last week getting the final preparations in order. Wish me luck!
Update 18 April 2011: Thanks all for the donations. I really appreciate them. I am collecting quite a few pieces so far, but will gladly take any others people want to add to the cause. At this point, I need to start encouraging people to attend with the expectation of spending small amounts of money. More on that with the next update, but just to get it in your minds.
In terms of Quickstop orders, there have been a few issues, but mostly minor. Their uploader accepts both JPEGs and TIFFs but they highly recommend JPEGs as their printers do not recognize all TIFF formats.
Also, Christopher Fetterer, whichever of my contacts you are (forgive me for not knowing), send me an e-mail, it seems Quickstop needs you to re-upload your file as a JPEG.
Again, thanks everyone. The date is fast approaching.
As I have mentioned to some of you, I have decided to organize a small, benefit auction in support of disaster relief for Japan. I don't like being in a position where I know I could do something if I was motivated enough, and don't, so I figured I would see just what I could do, and started organizing an auction.
I think as a population, we are not limited by our abilities or inabilities but rather by our motivation and desire to see something done. It is pretty amazing what a small group of motivated individuals can do once they set their collective minds to a task. And that is one reason I wanted to do this. The photographers of Portland are all a capable lot, capable of quite a bit, and I wanted to tap into that a bit and turn our talents with cameras into a result greater than the occasional images we make.
So quickly, here is the time and location:
724 SW Washington
One night only
May 5th, 6-9 pm
So, what I need in terms of help, because I can do this on my own, but the result and the effects will be much greater the more help I can get. At this point, I need donations of artwork.
In terms of the art, I am looking for smallish pieces, say 8x10. Larger or smaller pieces than that are certainly welcome though. The work can be bare prints, it can be matted, it can even be framed. I want to stress though that these pieces are going to sell inexpensively. Do not donate something valuable with the expectation of it meeting that price.
Ideally, I want to put up a number of pieces with very low, buy-it-now prices of around $25-50. Other pieces, particularly framed ones, can go through a silent auction process, but I want firm prices on many of the pieces so as to be able to tap into the walk-through crowd that would not hang around until a bid was finished. I will also tell you, based on a heck of a lot of experience, that in order to sell work in Portland, it needs to be inexpensive. Portlanders, especially after the recession, do not spend a lot of money on art. Hence why I want to put low price tags on the work, and I want anyone donating to be aware of that upfront. I have not settled on a price structure just yet, but I will be in touch with everyone who donates when I do. The cutoff for donating pieces is the last Thursday in April, so one week before the opening. Of course I will still take donations after that, but if they can be in before that, it will make my job of organizing all this easier.
Donations can be dropped off at Blue Moon Camera in St. Johns where I work. Please include your name, phone number or e-mail with your pieces. Alternately you can e-mail me to make other arrangements for getting your work to me. If you are out of town, state or country, you are still more than invited to donate work, just mail it to Blue Moon Camera. If you need that address, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An alternate idea for getting prints to me for those of you far away, is through Quick Stop Photo, which is Blue Moon's outlab for digital printing. You can upload, order and pay for prints through their website which is www.picturepreview.com. I think an 8x10 costs all of $1.99. Then in the final instructions for your order, just instruct them to send the finished print to Blue Moon and to my attention. Make sure you leave your name in the order comments as well, and contact info too please.
The second group of people I need help from are those willing to show up the night of, bring friends, hang out, and buy work. I don't expect to have a problem with people willing to donate, I don't even expect to have a problem with getting people to show up, but folks, this will not be an art show, but an art sale, so it is important to get people willing to contribute small amounts and get to go home with a print under their arm.
100% of the bids will go to charity, at this point, it appears Mercy Corp. I plan on having a laptop right there so that winning bidders can make their donation on the spot and no paper money has to trade hands or even be involved. Alternately, and I still need to confirm this, people could make donations before coming to the show, and bring a printout of the receipt for their donation and use that as a voucher for bidding. I will accept that too. The important thing is to just make sure the money gets to Mercy Corp some way or another.
Alright, there are still other details to iron out, but this gives you all enough concrete information to start making your own arrangements. I don't need to tell you this is for a good cause, you already know that. Nor do I need to remind you what a disaster Japan is at the moment, our media barrage, as clumsy as it is, has made that point too. What I will remind you of is that we are all capable of making a difference here, it may be small, but it will matter. And the more motivated we become, the more intent on our purpose, the greater the effect we will have. So don't write yourself off as being insignificant, don't use that as an excuse to do nothing at all. I know you all have prints just laying around out there, and you all have abilities with a camera, lets translate that into something, that on a certain scale will be a big thing.