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Archive for March, 2012

From Cancer to American Idol: The story of Shelby Miguel

Jessica, and I recently had the incredible honor to do a photo shoot for a courageous young 17 year old named Shelby Miguel. Shelby’s struggle began after her 4th birth day, Shelby was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer known as Burkitts Lymphoma.

Shelby at age 4

She underwent chemotherapy at UCSF and she lived in UCSF’s 7-Long with her parents for six months. She struggled with multiple surgeries, nausea, seizures, dozens of spinal taps, daily shots to her leg, and the loss of her hair. To keep her spirits up, Shelby watched a lot of Disney movies from her hospital bed and started to sing along with her favorite Disney princesses. Singing became her coping mechanism. She may have lost her hair from chemo, but she found her voice. And she has not stopped singing since. Shelby feels blessed to be part of Music Is Good Medicine, where she can give back to the place that gave her a second chance at life

Fast forward 13 years, and she has become the Youth Spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, where she helps raise money for cancer research. Shelby is also the Youth Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Plus, she is a promising singer. She has sung for every sporting team in the Bay Area (her last was singing the national anthem for a Giants game). Now she’s prepping for an audition for the X Factor, The Voice, and American Idol. She’s got our vote!

On our shoot I asked her to sing a few bars……WOW!!!!!!!!!

If you want to see more from Shelby visit here site

Part 3: Top 7 Things Your Craigslist Ad Must Have

So you know what people shopping on Craigslist are thinking, and what their life situations are. You also know a few things to leave out of your ad. Let’s take a look at what your ad must have.

1. Your info – This might be common sense, but you would be surprised how many ads don’t have any way to contact the photographer. Your basic company name, email, and phone number is all you need.

2. Quick and to the point – People on average spend 2 seconds on print ads. At writing I couldn’t find info on the amount of time people spend viewing CL ads, but I bet it’s not to far from 2 seconds.

3. Professional – Here is a sample ad I found. It didn’t come with any images. Not one.

I have over 10 years of experience in photography and would be happy to give you my resume, but I believe that my photographs speak for themselves. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope that these photographs tell you stories that engage and interest you enugh so that I can help you tell YOUR story and memorialize it for you in print. Ultimately, I want the photographs that I take for you to make you feel as much joy as I feel when I take them. I spacialize in infant/children/senior/family and wedding photography. Enjoy the site, (….photos.com) and please let me know if you like what you see and want me to capture an important moment in your life.”

When your in a visual industry and not add at least one image in your ad, miss-spelled words, and a boring story your going to get passed. This ad screams amateur! Also, the body of work on their website didn’t match the “10 years of experience” claim (that’s another story).

4. Enticing enough – No one seals the deal with just a CL ad. Your ad just needs to be captivating, simple, and enticing enough for a potential client to see more, and to ultimately contact you.

5. More impressive than the 10th guy – This goes back to people looking at at-least 10 other photographers. If your ad can be better than the 10th ad you have a shot at a potential client wanting to see more. Of course the better your ad can be the better your chances are.

6. Call-to-action – Here is what the Businessdictinary.com definition.

“Words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as ‘Write Now,’ ‘Call Now,’ or ‘Click Here.’ A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete, and ineffective.”

7. Why hire you? – The number one concern you need to answer is “Why should I hire you over the other guy? This is the Elephant in the room.  This question is on the back of each potential client.  Being cheaper is not your answer. More accolades is not the answer. Being more arrogant is not the answer. Dissing your completion is not the answer. You will find the answer within you.

Coming soon, Part 4: How to create a simple, compelling, and professional Craigslist ad.




Cancer, Photography, and a 1000 Words – Guest Post By Jenn Martin

Photos may be worth a 1000 words, but they can’t speak of the emotional journey one takes during their battle with cancer.

We all know someone who has cancer, has battled & triumphantly won, as well as those who fought like hell but their lives were taken all to soon.  It’s beyond scary, those 6 little letters. Cancer are the words no one wants to ever hear, but sadly, it’s heard all to often. 


My heart has been touched by those stories I have heard, the bravery witnessed & the tears of emotions shared. So imagine taking a photo and seeing the story of perseverance through the eyes of another, to view that person’s journey in the mist of their greatest battle. To capture ones story with a click of a button.

Last year I started The Memories Foundation in honor of my cousin in law, Jessica, and her incredible battle with lymphoma. Through her I was inspired to start the foundation that offers photos, at no charge, to families whose loved ones are battling an illness, and would like to have some beautiful heartfelt photos as cherished memories. Since October is a month of breast cancer awareness and I asked family and friends if they had someone who would like to spend an hour with me and allow me to capture their true inner beauty while battling breast cancer. Through a friend, I met Stefanie.


Adorable in pink, shy under her baseball cap, I saw a beautiful, strong & vivacious woman. She bravely allowed me to capture her newly bald head, which to me is a sure sign of courage. We laughed & cried during her short session, but in the end we formed a bond that I truly cherish. Weeks later, Stefanie shared her emotional journey of how she found out about her cancer, the misdiagnoses, the treatments, the toll it’s taken on her body & family, but also the perseverance of staying strong & getting healthy for her beautiful little girl and husband.

Kathy with her grandkids

Little did I know that just a few months later, my own Mother would enter her own battle with breast cancer. Because of my time spent with Stefanie, I was able to handle the news & choices of my Mom’s own battle with cancer, with a more understanding heart.

Kathy with her kids

I’m proud to share that both Stefanie and my Mom are breast cancer survivors and in full remission. It’s been a long road for them both, however I’m hope, that I in my own way, both behinds the lens of a camera & as a person who cares for their souls, that they continue their lives with the strength and passion and love that they so beautiful share with others.

All my love,

Jenn Martin 

Owner of Jenn Martin Photography   www.JennMartinPhotography.com

Founder of The Memories Foundation  www.TheMemoriesFoundation.org



Part 2: Top 9 things you should leave out of your Craigslist ad.

Now that you understand what’s going through the minds of people who are looking for photographers on CL, and what your ad must present, lets look into the things you should leave out of your compelling Craigslist ad.

 1. Boasting – When you boast about how good you, and your services are is that really what kind of photographer your client wants to hire? Lets look at a few.

  • “ Great photos from a top rated photographer for all dates in 2012” I thought “great photos” is up to the client to decide. If your “top rated” why is your calendar wide open for 2012? If I’m questioning your statements then you better believe a potential client will be questioning your statements too.

  • “Top Rated Photographer” According to who?  I didn’t know we had a rating system.

  • “The best wedding photographer around” – You’re just setting yourself up for failure with this one.  It should be re-written, “Hire the most arrogant photographer around” because that’s what you’re asking them to be around for their wedding day.

  • “Best of Craigslist” I’ve looked all over CL and I’ve never found a way to vote on who’s the best on anything.

2. Clichés –  Of course you’re “passionate.” Of course you’re “artistic.” Of course you’re “creative.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I saw these words. Sorry for the cliché phrase, but you understand what I mean. Be more creative to express your uniqueness, and personality. 

3. “Award Winning” – In a nutshell, NOBODY CARES. It’s merely a powerless marketing phrase.  As Scott Bourne said, “If you gotta rely on awards, keep your day job.”

4. I’m Cheap – Stay away from words like: low budget, affordable, inexpensive, etc. You’re just asking the potential client to look at one thing and one thing lonely, price.  Is being the cheapest the reason why you got into this business? I hope the reason you got into photography is because you believe you have the talent, skill and professionalism to handle the job not because you’re cheaper than everyone else. Price yourself with the value you provide, not what you think people can afford.

5. A novel – If you can’t entice a potential client within the first screen shot then your saying too much. Remember your goal with your CL ad is to be captivating enough for a client to contact you via email or phone call or want more info via website.

6. Hide Email – That’s the auto email link at the top of your ad. Spam spiders contact you this way. If you opt “hide” email then you won’t get spam.  We’ll talk about email contact on Part 3.

7. Showing your price – This is a tricky one. I understand one of the main reasons to include a price is to qualify people, but again is price the only factor to hire you?

 8. You do everything – There’s an old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none” We all know that we as photographers can photograph more than just weddings, sports, kids, etc., but clients don’t feel that way. They want to know they are hiring a “master of one.” Would you feel comfortable hiring a “general mechanic” to fix your Ferrari or a person who specializes in Ferrari’s?

9. Criticizing your competition – This is just wrong all around. I’ll spare you examples of this one. It should just be common sense.

Coming soon, Part 3: Top 6 things your Craigslist ad must have