Amazing USB flash drive is a business card on steroids!

Here I am showing the front and back of my newest marketing product - a USB thumbdrive/business card that I can hand to or mail to my clients and prospects. It has gotten a lot of positive feedback from my recipients. In fact, a couple business owners have asked me to create one to better market THEIR products and services!

Here I am showing the front and back of my newest marketing product – a USB flash drive/business card.

Every so often, an amazing product grabs my attention that I just gotta have!

Recently, I was contacted by USB Memory Direct to try a sample of their USB flash drives. I've seen these at trade shows where exhibitors give them away with their logo and website imprinted on them. I always thought they were a pretty cool way of promoting a company.

When I visited the USB Memory Direct website, I was blown away by all the unique styles, shapes and colors they offered. I was even more impressed that companies like, Yelp, Sunoco, Kodak, Intel, Toyota and many other Fortune 500 companies were using them. Now I could finally join the “big boys” with my own custom flash drive!

USB Thumbdrive Business Card

I customized the front of my USB flash drive/business card with my own photo of Cleveland and my logo. The back of the card has additional space for a custom message.

I chose a business card style flash drive that gave me a TON of room on the front and back to encourage the recipient to plug it into their computer and watch our marketing videos and read a PDF listing the services we offer. I even include clickable links within the PDF that will automatically open any web browser to take the viewer to specific pages on my website for information about each service.

With this “business card,” I have a great way to grab the attention of a potential client at a networking event, Chamber of Commerce meeting, party, etc.

Oh, did I mention that the recipient can also use the card to save THEIR own digital files? With 8 GB of storage, there's still plenty of space to add their own documents and photos. Even if they delete my marketing videos and PDF, they still have my contact info on the front and back of the card! And you can bet anyone who sees my card will be curious about the unusual style flash drive with the scenic photo of Cleveland on it.

My flash drive/business cards have gotten a lot of positive feedback from my recipients. In fact, a couple business owners have asked me to create one to better market THEIR products and services!

I am so impressed with the quality and functionality of these flash drives that I asked to become a reseller for USB Memory Direct. You will pay the same price if you order through me and get the personal attention of a local representative who can also handle your special graphic design and marketing needs.

Want to discover how these USB flash drive/business cards can take your marketing to the next level? Contact me here.

 

CLEveland ROCKS! And we have the building to prove it

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Mark Madere | SpectraLight Photography)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Mark Madere | SpectraLight Photography)

Probably the most iconic building in Cleveland, Ohio is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a photographer, I just love the distinct design created by world renowned architect, I. M. Pei. Almost every view of the building offers a unique view of Lake Erie or the downtown skyline.

See more views of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and order art prints here.

 

Lauren and Josh – Dancing with the Stars?

(NOTE: You can spin the video all around by clicking on it and moving your cursor in any direction.)

Lauren and Josh Allen decided to celebrate their one-year anniversary with portraits taken in their wedding attire at Huntington Beach… in DECEMBER! All I could say was BRRRRRRR!

Lauren was a SpectraLight Photography SpokesModel when she was in high school and took AMAZING photos. I was thrilled when she called and asked me to do something unique for their anniversary photos. We created poses that were inspired by the hit TV show, “Dancing With the Stars.” #DWTS

Cleveland Arctic Plunge – Another one for the “bucket list”

Call it “midlife crisis” or just a little insanity. Last Saturday was my latest “bucket list” moment as I joined dozens of Northeast Ohioans for the 2015 Arctic Plunge at Edgewater Park near downtown Cleveland.

After jumping out of a perfectly good airplane two years ago, I thought it would be fun to dive into the frigid waters of an icy Lake Erie to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Team Fox (Parkinson's Disease), University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Westshore Critical Incident Response Services.

Before taking the plunge, I videotaped my fellow “plungees” (plungers?) as they entered the water like sheep being lead to their slaughter. There were plenty of whoops and laughter as they proceeded in single file down the narrow channel that had just been carved out of the frozen lake by an excavator.

Then it was my turn. I peeled of my winter coat and pants, removed my socks and shoes, turned on my chest-mounted GoPro camera and ran into the lake in my t-shirt and shorts. Good times!

Surprisingly, while the water was cold, it really was quite bearable. The biggest issue I encountered were the chunks of ice floating on and below the water surface. I had a number of cuts and bruises on my lower legs when I finished.

When I got back to the registration tent, someone called a paramedic to attend to my bloodied legs. While he doused the cuts with hydrogen peroxide (which I couldn't feel due to the numbness of my legs), I asked him how many people his crew had treated. Almost apologetically he said, “Well, you're about the only one.” Proud moment for me – NOT!

Have you ever jumped in a frigid lake for a good cause? What was YOUR experience like? Please comment here.

Please THUMBS UP, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE this story.

Low camera angles can add visual interest to portraits

Senior-Pictures-Cleveland-Ridgeville-Olmsted-Tori-Pishkula

Sometimes, you just gotta “take one for the team” to get an interesting portrait. Click the photo to see it bigger. (Photo of me lying on the ground by Colleen Pishkula)

Over the years, I've found some of the best portraits require climbing a ladder or laying on the floor or ground.

Olmsted Falls High School class of 2015 student, Tori Pishkula, her mom, Colleen, and I set out for a “photo safari” in The Flats near downtown Cleveland this summer to create something a little different for Tori's senior portraits.

When we came across this lift bridge, I fell in love with it's massive structure and metal girders criss-crossing at 90 degree angles. When I viewed Tori and the bridge at Tori's level, the size and “power” of the bridge just wasn't obvious. Laying on the ground and shooting up at Tori with the bridge rising up behind her solved the problem.

Notice that I positioned Tori slightly left of the center of the photo so as not to block the view of the entrance to the bridge. I also posed her close to the camera so she stands out beautifully against the background. Most amateur photographers would typically place the person at the entrance of the bridge where they become lost in the photo.

Do you have any photo-related questions that you would like to have answered? It can be about composition, exposure, Photoshop techniques, cameras… the sky's the limit! I will answer them here and sometimes create a video to give a better visual explanation.

Just post your questions in “Comments” under the title of this post.

My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has surprise ending

[svpVideo v=1]

Yep, I knew it would happen eventually. I've been waiting to be asked to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but I never thought it would come from our Australian foreign exchange student from 24 years ago – Rebecca Freeman Haines! I asked her to do the ice bucket honors. She came all the way from Australia to be with us!

In this video, I weathered a bucket of ice water dumped over my head and then challenged my neighbors at Cypress Station in North Ridgeville and my co-workers at University Hospital’s Eye Institute Reading Centers to also support this worthy cause.

Watch the video to the end to see a surprise in my ice bucket.

Also included in this video are VERY COOL celebrity challenges from around the Internet including President Barack Obama, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, professional ice hockey player Paul Bissonnette, “The Besties” – Brittany and Brittani, Jimmy Fallon with Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Steve Higgins and the Roots.

Please take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or make a donation to http://www.alsa.org/

Fireworks photos with a unique twist – these aren’t your mamma’s snapshots

 

Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere - a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere (owner of SpectraLight Photography) – a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

For years I've been bored with photographing fireworks. Fighting the crowds to get a good spot, dealing with hot and humid July weather, bugs, crying children… the list goes on. I'd much rather stay home and chill-out with the Mrs. – UNTIL NOW!

I recently read an article by a photographer who captured some great fireworks photos. He gave the technical settings that he used for beautiful shots that were taken over a scenic lake. His photos inspired me to see if I could create images unlike any I've made before.

So I set out for the annual fireworks display in my town – North Ridgeville, Ohio. The weather was cool and comfortable for a July evening. I was able to stake out a spot by the lake where the fireworks would be launched. The bugs weren't annoying either (I think they preferred the taste of those around me.) And the crying children? It's amazing what ear plugs can mask out!

For 20+ minutes I shot photos with my Nikon D90 camera mounted to a tripod with exposures ranging from one to four seconds at f/11 at ISO 100. If you don't have a clue about the settings I just covered – have no fear! It seems that anyone can get decent photos with just about any camera – even with smart phones. If you already have photos you wish to add some excitement to – read on!

When I loaded the photos onto my computer – I was UNDERwhelmed by what I had captured. They looked similar to the old, boring photos I'd taken in the past.

I played with some Photoshop filters to see if I could add some pizazz to the images but nothing really excited me. I then opened a photo in an inexpensive software program (Star Effects by Topaz Labs) that I've used to spice up some photos from previous travels.  The two photos in this article were created with just a couple mouse clicks using Star Effects.

Topaz Labs is a company that has created several easy-to-use photo effects programs that can be used without even reading the instruction manual – well, at least after the initial install. It has a simple user interface that will have you creating photo masterpieces in minutes.

I found myself immersed for hours in the software as I created countless variations of each image.

To see how easy Star Effects is to use, I created this short video. Let me know what you think with a comment on this article.

SAVE 15% off Star Effects or any of their other Topaz Labs software using code “15topaz” at checkout: http://spectralight.com/TopazSoftware. Scroll down that page to see all the software titles available.)

Have fun!

NOTE: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, you'll help support this blog at no cost to you – allowing us to continue sharing information like this for your education and enjoyment. Win/Win! Thanks!

Amazing Green Screen trick – place people anywhere in the world without leaving the studio

Green Screen technique lets photographers place their subject anywhere they choose without having to leave the studio!

Green Screen technique lets photographers place their subject anywhere they choose without having to leave the studio!

 

$$ Go Green! $$ – A Green Screen Presentation by Bill Morley of Bill Morley Photography based in Independence, Ohio.

The program will cover:

● How to incorporate green screen into engagement sessions, senior sessions, families and kids – in rain or shine!

● Event photography: offer green screen as an alternative to cheesy photo booths 

● Where to get free backgrounds on the internet and with your own camera

● Foolproof lighting techniques: blend your subjects seamlessly into exciting backgrounds!

● Comparisons of green screen software

● And much more! 

See how your studio can have fun and save money!

Join us for this fun and informative program that will change the way you look at green screen!

This program is offered by the Society of Northern Ohio Professional Photographers on Tuesday, March 25th at the North Olmsted Public Library at 7 p.m.

Local photographers to learn how to use video to promote their studios

Explode your business with YouTube videosTonight, I'll be teaching local professional photographers how to turn their client photo sessions into simple-to-create videos that will help their studios be found easily on YouTube and Google searches.

The presentation is titled, “Explode Your Business with Simple-to-Create Videos and Your Own FREE YouTube Channel.” It will be held at the North Olmsted Library at 7 p.m. for the Society of Northern Ohio Professional Photographers (SONOPP) monthly meeting.

Through a series of short demonstration videos, attendees will discover how to “grab” new clients with simple videos that will help their studio's website outrank their competition's in Google search results – all without having to appear on camera or buying expensive video equipment.

At the end of the evening, attendees will:

• Review great and not-so-good videos of Ohio portrait photographers so they will understand the key elements of successful, client-capturing videos (Here’s a sample video they’ll see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY30tAkpwaM)

• Discover how to make videos with impact from existing photos with cheap, easy-to-use video editing software to get their first videos online immediately

• Learn the importance of having a “video intro” to brand their videos for instant recognition by their prospects and clients (They’ll also see SONOPP’s new video intro.)

• Understand what an actual photography studio YouTube channel looks like so they’ll have a guide to create their own, free channel

• Discover how to create their very own YouTube channel to host their videos and make them available for prospective clients who search Google for businesses like theirs

• Get a list of inexpensive, must-have video equipment for creating live videos for minimal cost

• Hear about an online, step-by-step training course for creating videos that includes tons or marketing tricks that will get their videos watched AND convert their viewers into paying customers

• Discover an online course on how to easily create promotional videos with a smartphone

Why should SMART business owners attend this program? Because:

• Video drives engagement. Engagement increases revenue.
• Websites with video are more likely to be featured on the first page of Google's search results.
• Video adds credibility and is available 24/7.
• Video makes a website SIX times more likely to convert a visitor into a paying customer.
• Video is easily shared with other potential customers. It can be viewed on many devices.
• Video is memorable. With video, more content will be remembered and for a longer period of time than with text alone.
• Providing a link to a video within an email will increase response and drive more traffic to a website.
• A visitor will stay on a website featuring a video at least two minutes longer and is 64% more likely to purchase than a website without video.
• Video will enhance all other marketing efforts. Using video on a landing page will increase conversions.
• A professionally produced video outperforms user generated video by at least 30%.

Northeast Ohio amateur photographers could win big bucks

You're a winner!”

Yes, those could be the words that a few lucky Cleveland area photographers hear after judging is completed for three amateur photo contests – one local, one national and one international.

The local contest is the “Photo Safari at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo here you can try your hand at animal photography. All photos must be taken on zoo grounds between April 1 and October 31, 2013 and submitted to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on photographic paper on or before October 31, 2013.

The Best of Show winner will get a Behind-the-Scenes Zoo tour, Adopt an Animal package courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society and a Polaroid PoGo Photo Printer. Other prizes include Zoo family memberships, 18-hole rounds of golf at any Cleveland Metroparks Golf Course, $25 Discount Drug Mart gift cards and much more.

Get contest details at http://www.clemetzoo.com/events/event.asp?event_id=37.

Next up is the “Olive Garden Picture Perfect InstaGram Contest.” And no, you don't have to be an Olive Garden fan or even eat there to be eligible to participate. Of course, I LOVE their Eggplant Parmesan so I'll grab a bite there in your honor.

There are 42 prizes with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $500 prepaid credit card.

The contest is open to lawful permanent residents of the United States (including D.C.); between the ages of 13 and 18 years old as of April 1, 2013, and have an active InstaGram account. The contest ends on May 14, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. so you better hurry!
Get contest details at http://www.officialolivegardenrules.com/olive-garden-picture-perfect.

Finally, there's the “The Art of Photography Show 2013.” There are $10,000 in cash awards with the first place winner receiving $2,000 and fourteen others grabbing lesser cash prizes.

This contest is geared for aspiring photographers who are ready to invest $25 for their first entry and $10 for each additional entry. Entries must be received by May 18th at 11:59 pm PDT (California Time) so time is of the essence.

Get contest details at http://www.artofphotographyshow.com

Have you ever wanted to create a book of your favorite images to share with family and friends? Or maybe you would like to offer your book for purchase to the general public for a little extra income.

I've create two books using a pretty cool company called Blurb. One is a pictorial celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the other is a collection of unique images of Picturesque Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

Now you can create a book for yourself or your mom for Mother's Day and save 20% off through May 10, 2013. Simply enter coupon code LOVEYOUMOM at checkout to claim your discount.

So what's been your experience with photo contests? Please comment and share some contests you've entered and what you thought of the judging.

Do you like this article? Please share this article with you friends on Facebook, LinkedIn or via e-mail.