The Ride for Missing Children CNY


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UTICA, NY >> The Ride for Missing Children-Central New York will embark on its 19th Ride this year on May 15.

What started as a small group of bicyclists that hoped to raise awareness for the plight of one missing child has grown into the biggest annual fundraiser for The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children – New York/Mohawk Valley Office (NCMEC-NY/MV). Will this year have just under 500 riders.

Jim Betro of Oneida is a first-year rider. He said friends of his have been riding in it for a few years and it is a great cause, so he decided to give it a try. He has been training inside with a spin bike in addition he participating in the NYC 5-boro ride on May 3. The ride is approximately 40 miles or just about half of this years RFMC.

Before signing up for the Ride, the longest Betro had ridden his bike in one sitting was 35 miles.

“I’m really looking forward to helping missing children and the excitement of being a part of something this big and important,” Betro said.

Throughout the day of the Ride, Riders stop at schools to visit with children, reminding them of the importance of personal safety. This year, after Opening Ceremonies at NYS Troop D Headquarters in Oneida, riders head to Rome, Westmoreland, Sauquoit, New Hartford, New York Mills, and Whitesboro, through Utica ending at the New Hartford Recreation Center.

Officials say the best place to watch the ride is along Genesee Street in South Utica and into New Hartford as they arrive home around 6 p.m.

Jessica and Christopher Maine of Chittenango will embark their third RFMC. They decided to start riding after the Ride went by Jessica’s school – she works at Seneca Street Elementary.

“It was an incredible experience to see so many people united for one cause,” Jessica said. “As they rode by in their matching jerseys, the crowd was cheering them on in support of their hard work and dedication. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of it.”

The Maines begin training in January with indoor cycling.

“The support we receive from students at the schools we ride by and stop at is unlike anything I have ever experienced,” Jessica said. “To see them light up, and know that for even one minute, we have brought awareness to our cause of keeping children safe is worth all of the challenges.”

Bob Carey of Rome has done the RFMC for the past seven years and is now also a member of the steering committee that helps to plan the Ride. Carey saw the Ride go by his home almost eight years ago and then signed up the next year. While it’s his eighth ride in the Utica area, it will be his 17th ride as he’s done rides in both Syracuse and Albany. Carey has been a shepherd for the Ride since his second year. Being a shepherd involves helping on training rides, and teaching participants how to ride in a group.

Besides training rides Carey also spin bikes in the winter and he takes the stairs at St. Luke’s where he works. Before becoming involved in the Ride Carey said he used to ride avidly but then had a few knee surgeries and had gone away from it.

“I really look forward to the smiles on the riders faces when we pull into a school,” Carey said. “The kids are jumping up and down with signs and we feel like the heroes for a minute – but the kids are really the heroes.”

Last year’s ride raised a record amount of $412,000. Officials hope to beat this number again this year. Last year offered another first for the Ride as they were forced to end the ride early due to severe thunderstorms after the first school stop.

“The rain won’t keep us down this year,” said Chip Hemmel, new rider co-chair. “We are excited even more than ever to be able to finish what we started last year. Many of our new riders from last year came back this year to participate. That is a huge testament to the commitment our community has to this cause. Based on the weather and it being their first year, I can see how they might not want to do it again this year. Yet here a number of them are. It warms my heart.”

To get ready for the approximate 90-mile bike ride, preparations and training happen year round. There are monthly meetings for riders and volunteers to understand the importance of why we ride, and conduct ride business like having the right cycling apparel, learning how to prepare both mentally and physically, as well as garner fundraising tips.

“Even if it’s down pouring rain people come out of their houses and businesses to cheer us on,” Carey said.

What participants learn immediately is that although they are going to ride their bikes approximately 90 miles in one day, this event is “not about a bike ride”. It is about raising awareness of the plight of missing children, and spreading a message of abduction prevention. There is also a message of hope – this group will never stop searching for your missing child. It is about a mission “to make our children safer … one child at a time”. The bicycles are simply a vehicle to help carry the message along, officials said.

From the initial Ride in Central New York, the Ride has grown to include more Rides For Missing Children across New York State – Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Buffalo. Last year there was a Ride for Missing Children held in Texas.

Joanna Premo of Rome will embark on her seventh ride, and now also works as a part of the families committee. Before signing up for the Ride she was originally in a spin class where the instructor participated. After the instructor told her about the Ride, Premo went home and told her husband that she was going to do this and she wanted a bike for Christmas. Besides her spinning class she had never ridden long distance on a bicycle before.

“It’s very therapeutic, and I’m giving back to the community,” Premo said.

The families committee makes sure that the Ride is meaningful and comfortable for the honored guests – families who continue to search for their missing child; families who have been reunited with their missing child; and families who’s child has been recovered deceased. Families participate at their comfort level. On ride day there can be anywhere between 40 and 60 family members in the families van, riders, volunteers, and others who participate by standing roadside and cheering on riders. This year on ride day there will be 33 family members from 15 families coming from as far away as, Montana, Iowa, and Tennessee.

Premo said she also enjoys being with the families. “They come up and thank us,” she said. “We give them home and they really can’t believe someone is doing this and not forgetting their loved one.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2014 there were 466,949 children under the age of 18 reported missing.

NCMEC-NY/MV facilitates targeted distribution of printed posters of missing children to aid in their search and recovery, and promotes awareness and education in the community and across New York state to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation. Since its inception in September of 1995, through December of 2014 they have distributed 9.14 million posters of 9,277 missing children, and 6,644 of them are now listed as “successfully recovered.”

The needed funding it takes to run the center comes mostly from the annual Ride for Missing Children-CNY fundraiser. In order to participate in the Ride, riders must raise a minimum of $500. This money goes directly to the center to support their missing child poster distribution and community education.

Premo said she will always remember one moment from her first year of the Ride. “We were riding towards the jail (Marcy) and there were guards standing out front each with a child standing next to them saluting us as we rode by,” she said. “The last guard didn’t have a child and it was heartbreaking.”

Premo said the next few years when she rode with new riders she said she got to see the experience through their eyes.


Only 3 Days Away


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mrny1 It may look like I am packed and ready to go for the 2015 Miss Rodeo New York Pageant… but let me tell you I am far from it and it’s only 3 days away!!!!

Friday morning I will be heading out to Glens Falls, NY for the pageant for the the third year in a row I am honored to be the pageant photographer.

This year there are seven young women running for the Miss (5) and Teen titles (2)


Throughout the weekend I will be updating with winners and pictures! Good Luck to all the young women that are running! It is bound to be a fun weekend.

So YOU Want to Blog?


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Blogging can be a great eye-opening experience whether you want to create one for a business, your personal life, a hobby, or just to rant about life’s happenings. You can do this in just a few simple steps and be on your way using WordPress. After you create your blog…

YOU can use the following tips to create a successful blog and social media strategy for yourself.

Be Active – Think Quality over Quantity. You don’t necessarily need to be active on every single social media site. Pick and choose the ones that you want to be active in and feel that you can build your following on.

  1. Identify your brand image and message early on in your blogging. This way followers know who you and what you are trying to accomplish early on.
  2. Identify your Target Audience – make a list of potential audiences that you can appeal to through your services. For example a photographer’s target audience could include, A newly engaged couple, a pet lover, or a mom.
  3. Become a Resource – Create content that adds value to not only your blog but your industry as a whole. While also creating content that is meaningful to you.
  4. Develop a Schedule – No I don’t mean set an alarm on your phone and make sure you blog or tweet at the same time every Friday. Just be consistent. For instance when first starting your blog, make it a habit to post to your blog once a week. After getting used to posting once a week for a few weeks it will be easier to increase your blog activity.
  5. Be Personable – Make sure you don’t sound like a machine just producing posts. Let your audience know who you are, see the real you not just the blogger you.


  1. Engage with your audience. When they comment on your posts be sure to respond to questions or just thank them for their kind words. I find it easier to try and check my blog daily for comments so I can respond quickly. Your audience doesn’t want to wait for an answer. If they have to wait too long they won’t come back in the future.

BUT above all else have fun with it! If you don’t have fun your audience isn’t going to have fun!

Should We Post Photos of Children?


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Something I’m faced with most often when photographing families is that some parents don’t want me to use photos featuring their children online in a public Facebook Album. You see I feature sneak peeks and albums of families that way they can decide what photos they want to purchase.

My photography page says the location that I cover and most of the time the album description says where the photos were taken if it is a public location. That way future clients can see what the location has to offer.

Recently I took photos for my friend of her and her siblings – 4 of which are adopted so their location can’t be shared for their safety. I obliged and only featured her photos in a private album that she could view and select from.

So I decided to see how other parents felt about their children’s photos being shared online either on my page or a personal page. I found that some parents found no danger in their child’s face being featured on my page even with the location. Most times I take photos on a neutral site not where I or my clients live so there is no saying how far away they live from where that photo is taken so therefore no danger.

But is this true?

Most people worry about posting too much information about their child and then having them be targeted by a pedophile or stalker, which is a very disturbing thought. But is possible through privacy settings on Facebook, people may be able to see your photos that you don’t know because they are a friend of a friend….

However think before you post because images of your children can be misused even if its years from now, when they are in high school and have their own Facebook page and you tag them in a #Throwback Thursday picture that may be embarrassing. Then a bully gets a hold of it and uses it to bully your child.

So I will leave you with a few photo sharing tips that I found on

  • If you have hundreds of Facebook friends, you shouldn’t expect them all to be interested in your photos. Most social networks have private sharing options for photographs. If you want to share photos, make sure you set up a private album so that only people whom you’ve chosen can see the images.
  • Share photos that are appropriate. Your children will eventually grow up, and no matter how cute you think those pictures of them splashing around in the tub are, you should avoid posting images that could embarrass them down the road. Think about what you share online as a digital tattoo. Whether you like it or not, it’ll be there forever. Would you brand your son or daughter with an embarrassing tattoo? Why do it with a Facebook photo?
  • Avoid pictures that give out personal information. Think hard about what kind of personal data can be discerned from a photograph before you share it online. Does the shirt your child is wearing display the name of his or her school? The likelihood of a stalker tracking down your family may be extremely low, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid taking the appropriate precautions.


Share safely and take precautions to protect not only your kids but yourself!

This Has Nothing To Do… With Photography


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This has nothing to do with photography, but I had to share this video!

This is my alma maters football team that is currently 5-1.. This is huge because my whole 4 years there I think they won 4 games.

Go Mustangs!

Instagram! Filters Oh My!


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Instagram is a photo and video sharing app that allows users to share their pictures to other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Instagram has over 150 million active users and was among Time’s 50 Best Android Apps for 2013. The most popular trends on Instagram are Throwback Thursday and Selfies.

On the application users can apply a variety of filters to edit their photos and this is one of things that makes Instagram such a successful app. Today I am going to discuss those filters using a photo that I have taken first is the picture as it was taken or “Normal”


Amaro- Increases the exposure or adds more light to the photo. This filter is best used with darker photos.


Mayfair- Has a warm pink tone, and subtly brightens the center of the photo with a thin black border.


Rise- This filter adds a golden glow that makes the picture softer with a more forgiving light.


Hudson- Alters the light in the photo, making it appear colder.


Valencia- Faded quality without completely washing out the color.


X-PRO II- This filter adds a pop to colors and gives the appearance of a Photoshop technique


Sierra- This filter infuses a cloudy quality to the photo.


Willow- Is a monochrome filter with subtle purple tones and has a translucent glowing white border.


Lo-Fi- This filter adds instant rich colors and strong shadows.


Earlybird- This filter adds golden-red tones to the photos with a vignette effect.


Sutro- Is known to add a sinister tone to nearly every photo which combines both richness and Gothicism.


Toaster- Uses a dramatic vignette effect that adds an aged and burnt quality to photos.


Brannan- Adds a sepia-like effect to photographs.


Inkwell- AKA Black and White


Walden- Puts a high exposure and yellow tint into your photos.


Hefe- Adds a vibrant yet cozy layer to photos and is similar to the Lo-Fi filter


Nashville- This filter adds a pastel tint to photos and a warm temperature.


1977- Gives photos a rosy tone and cottony exposure, similar to those you see in your parent’s photo collections from the ‘70s.


Kelvin- Combines a high saturation and warm temperature, similar to what you would see if you were shooting pictures in the late afternoon. Fair warning this filter is hard to work with!


With this vast list of filters the over 150 million users have endless opportunities and choices to edit photos which makes Instagram so successful.

Helpful Links:

What is the Current State of Social Media in Photography?


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Social Media sites are pretty much endless especially in photography. With sites that have been around for years like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr and the new kids on the block Instagram and Pinterest.


All of these sites are platforms for photographers of all skill levels to share their work. Facebook is the largest of the sites with over 950 million users. However people are looking to interact with people they aren’t looking to buy things which can put a damper on a photography business because that is what the purpose of the business is. And of course previously mentioned Facebook does compress photos that are uploaded.

While Twitter has over 262 million active users it is a social media site that allows for a simpler form of communication between users. Another nice feature that Twitter has, or rather doesn’t have is noise filters that normally make it so all of your users won’t see every one of your posts. While #hastags allow for easier searches. One major negative that many users find with Twitter however is the restriction of only being able to use 140 characters… imagine being partway through a thought and….

Oh it just stops. It can and does get frustrating sometimes. In my first post I also discussed Flickr as a photo sharing site that is popular among professional and amateur photographers for photo sharing.

Pinterest is one of the newest social media sites that photographers; especially wedding and portrait photographers have been using. Pinterest has over 25 million users that is very simple to use because you can pin content from pretty much any website. The site however is not the best for interactions between users like some other social media sites. It is nevertheless very addictive


Finally Instagram has over 200 million users that upload an average of 60 million photos a day to the mobile photography network. One nice thing about Instagram is that you can post photographs from your Instagram to other social networking sites. There is a negative perception from some professional photographers because it does make everyone a photographer and has actually taken jobs away from professional photographers.

For more information on photography social networks check out Corey Brown’s blog post!

Amateur or Professional Use These Sites to Share Your Photos!


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Whether an amateur or a professional photographers of all kinds live to share their photos.

Both Flickr and Facebook allow users to share photos. Creating either an account for Flickr or a page on Facebook is quite simple. As a photographer I found it easier to create a page attached to my personal Facebook account rather than creating a separate account on a different website. However both have their pros and cons.

fblogo PROS

  • Ease of Use – Millions of people use their Facebook page on a daily basis so why create a separate account to have to visit another website when you want to share pictures with friends, family or clients.


  • High exposure to lots of high quality photos and photographers.

fblogo CONS

  • Is not highly regarded or used by professionals in certain aspects of photography

flickrlogo CONS

  • The default settings allow anyone to see anything you post – which some users may not like. Whereas with Facebook you can decide who you want to see your pictures in certain albums.


When viewing your photos via a Facebook page they are organized into Albums or you can wade through all of the photos but if photos are older than what the end of the page shows, you are pretty much in it for an endless day of scrolling to find the right picture.


While on Flickr pictures are shown in different sizes and in higher resolution than on Facebook.

Wade Rousch wrote an article in 2013 titled 11 Reasons Why Flickr, Not Facebook, Is the Place to Put Your Photos which can be read in its entirety here, however the most important part of the article the list I wanted to share with you and add a few of my own tidbits too. (The original list can be seen in bold with my thoughts seen in italics.

  1. Flickr stores and displays your images at full resolution. Facebook compresses them by as much as 80 percent, resulting in a huge loss of information and detail. For serious photographers, this is the single biggest reason to avoid Facebook. As Rousch states this is why serious photographers avoid Facebook. Most serious photographers are all about the quality of the photo and Facebook definitely cuts down on the quality.
  2. Flickr’s redesigned website showcases big, beautiful versions of your photos on endlessly scrolling pages. It’s vastly superior to Facebook’s photo albums and a huge improvement over the previous Flickr design.
  3. You can easily share your Flickr photos back to Facebook—or Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, WordPress, Blogger, or LiveJournal. Something that many people look for nowadays is ease of sharing photos and with ability to easily share your Flickr photos to multiple social media sites is for sure a plus!
  4. Both Flickr and Facebook are ad-supported, but so far, Flickr’s ads are a lot less obtrusive and creepy than Facebook’s. I agree the ads on Facebook are wayyyyyy creepyyyyy!
  5. Flickr offers easy drag-and-drop tools for uploading photos and organizing them into albums (they’re actually called sets). Uploading photos to Facebook is much more tedious.
  6. If you like maps, Flickr can display your geotagged photos on a world map. If you don’t have a camera that automatically geotags your photos, there’s an easy way to assign each image to a location. SO COOL!
  7. Flickr lets you store videos of up to three minutes in length at 1080p resolution. Facebook allows longer videos, but limits resolution to 720p.
  8. There’s an amazingly welcoming and supportive community of photographers on Flickr. They’ve formed groups around every conceivable subject, from HDR photography to the color orange.
  9. Through a partnership with Aviary, Flickr provides a range of basic photo-editing tools, including the all-important redeye reduction. Facebook offers no photo editing tools. Facebook’s lack of photo editing tools may drive more people away from them and to other photo sharing sites for that reason alone.
  10. Lots of other people have built apps and services that interact with Flickr—for example, if you use iPhoto on your Mac, you can upload photos straight to Flickr. This is also true for Facebook; the point is that you don’t lose anything by switching to Flickr.
  11. In case you missed it before: a terabyte of free storage. (“Pro” subscribers who formerly paid $25 a year for unlimited storage get grandfathered in.) The upshot is that you can use Flickr as a backup location for all of your photos, not just the ones you want to show off.
  12. (Bonus reason) The Flickr mobile apps for iOS and Android are really quite good, allowing you to browse, manage, and snap and upload photos directly from your smartphone. The iOS version comes with about 15 free Hipstamatic-style filters.

What sites are your favorite photo sharing sites?