Category Archives: Brandsmash Stories

He was shot & paralyzed at the age of 8. You won’t believe what he does now. (Hint: it has inspired me & thousands of others.)

Jaleel King

At age 8, Jaleel was shot by a neighbor with a sawed off shotgun who was annoyed over the sound of fireworks.   His life hasn’t been easy since.

I first met Jaleel King at Help Portrait in 2009 an event that helps homeless and people who have had a hard year .   He rolled in on his wheelchair with and a pink photo backdrop and photographed homeless people with the rest of us.   I was amazed how he didn’t let anything get in his way. No obstacle was too big. He gave back despite having so much taken from him. That is who Jaleel is.


Three years after we first met, we sat down for sushi and I finally asked to hear his story.  I turned our informal sushi conversation into a short film that has been viewed over 34,500 times and was even shared by the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

“I can’t remember the last time I was inspired to this level by another photographer. You rock, man.” – David Hobby, Strobist

“Jaleel’s story is not only touching but it is inspiring. I have personally known him for a few years now and I can say I am a much better person because of it.” – Jared Polin, FroKnowsPhoto

“Every so often we all need to refill our motivational gas tank to keep us going. This 4-minute video of photographer Jaleel King will do just that for you. King’s story of death, losing everything and finding life is sure to inspire you.” – Trevor Daley, Fstoppers

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, than Jaleel King has said a lot in his 36-years.” – Fox29 News

“The photography world can be inspiring at times, especially when you come across a story like photographer, Jaleel King‘s” – Picture Correct


A lot has happened in the last 2 1/2 years…since the video went viral.

See us at WPPI 2015 in Las Vegas

Sun, Mar 1, 2015 – 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM

If you are attending WPPI in Las Vegas, join Jaleel and I as we present together.

Sign up for this class Go Viral and Get Press Sponsored by Bay Photo Lab
Get your name out there. You’ve probably heard that a million times, but where do you start with a nonexistent marketing budget and an inbox flooded with “opportunities” from telemarketers and spammers claiming they can boost your profile? Self-promotion is a struggle for most small business owners, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a way to cut your marketing budget and boost client list, blog traffic, and industry cred. To market yourself effectively without breaking the bank, you need to learn to write killer copy. Mike Allebach’s articles have been shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook and have racked up over 500,000 views on blogs. His techniques have gotten him featured in Inked Magazine, BuzzFeed and The Daily Mail UK. He wants to help your business do the same. Attend this session to learn how to get published and the science of going viral. 

PC04-Go Viral and Get Press.
Type: Platform Classes
Track: Business
Location: Room 312-317

Mike AllebachMike Allebach

Founded Brandsmash as a marketing resource for small business owners with his mantra “Your story changes everything.” Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer” Mike Allebach crafted one of the most distinct niches in photography. Ariel author of Offbeat Bride said “It’s obvious that Mike Allebach so totally gets offbeat brides.”

Giving Back | Tony Hoffer

Kenya eduKenya

The prime ages for wanting to change the world are right around 18-25. You’re old enough to do something, but young enough to think it’s possible. For me, I was also too young to know that I had weaknesses. I think I always just pictured that someday I’d be famous enough to make a big speech about all the injustices I cared about and they’d go away. Then I turned 26. Then 27. Then 30.

Somewhere along the road I realized that aside from not having the skills to do the things I’d always thought I would, I mostly lacked the commitment. I was certainly committed to other things in my life, I just wasn’t committed to anything that didn’t benefit myself.

Somewhere around my 30th birthday, I came to a realization: I needed to stop waiting for myself to figure everything out. For all the gifts and skills I lacked, I had developed a few good ones too. That’s when I realized that no one that does great things figures it out first. They’ve just figured out how to go do something.

So instead of trying to get noticed, I just tried to get moving. Amy and I bought tickets to Kenya. We spent 2 weeks taking photos for an organization (eduKenya) that we’re passionate about. We spent a TON of money to do it. We got sick. We were uncomfortable. Sure, we made a few friends and we learned a few new things, but mostly we just worked. That’s the best we could do.

Mail Attachment

When we got back, everybody asked us how the trip was. I think they all expected elation, but the truth was… It was really hard.

Since returning from Kenya 2 years ago, I’ve changed in subtle ways. I’ve started to realize how small the world is. Mostly, I’ve started to realize that if I really want to see things change then I better do something before I ask anyone else to. There’s a lot of people that will tell you everything that bothers them, but not enough that just put their head down and do something about it. For me, that’s meant a few things:

  1. I need to get used to the idea that I won’t keep a lot of the money I make.
  2. I have to make time and sacrifices to make things happen without any potential rewards.
  3. I need to learn that it’s ok if things don’t work out.

In the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my skills are and how I can use them. At first that started as a print sale with our business. Then it turned into a Christmas gift and print sale. Then I started doing a bit of design work for eduKenya. Then I started The Giving Gallery.

The Giving Gallery

The Giving Gallery is a way for photographers to donate an image that they love and for people to buy prints of that image at a good price. All of the money that’s made from sales (about 50%) goes directly to our friends at eduKenya. We do all the admin work ourselves and pay for all the little things involved.

I’d love to sit here and tell you that we’ve donated millions of dollars and that The Giving Gallery is a modern day success story. The truth is that we’ve done OK. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of time trying to get people to donate or to buy. Ultimately, it might be a huge success or just fade away. Either way I’m fine. It’s not that I’ve given up on trying to change the world. Quite the opposite! It’s that I’m learning that the joy comes from both the process and the results. If I truly want to change the world, then I need to be satisfied with just being part of the process without getting credit for the results. I think I’m getting there.


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