Archive for May, 2014


I’m proud to announce the launch of CallSign51 (, a creative services company specializing in photography, video production and website design. This is an exciting chapter in the story of my entrepreneurial adventures, which began in 2006.

Back then, I was working at a community newspaper as a multimedia reporter when my wife suggested I take on some weekend work by photographing and producing wedding videos. I started Jeff Achen Videography & Photography with nothing more than a handycam we had received as a wedding gift, an old Nikon D50 and my college PC. Over the past 8 years, my freelancing work has evolved into an increasing significant share of income for our family. When I went to work in the philanthropic sector at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners and GiveMN, my employers were gracious enough to support and encourage me in running my small business on the side. And it’s because of that support; and the support and encouragement of so many othr friends, family members and colleagues; that in April 2014 I was able to leave a salaried job and become a full-time small business owner

iPhone 5 templateSo, over the past month I have been developing CallSign51 and the new website. Jeff Achen Videography & Photography, LLC isn’t a bad name, but it is a bit long and, if felt, a bit limiting. My thinking is that this new name will provide me the freedom to promote new services that go beyond video and photography, such as website design and social media consulting. Eventually I hope to add staff and talent within my company.

CallSign51’s name and branding was inspired by some of the more prominent creative agencies in the Twin Cities such as Space150, Fast Horse and Periscope. They embody sophistication, creativity and they set trends–something I strive for in my work and something to which I personally aspire daily.

CallSign51 is also the result of brainstorming around my personal interests. Those who know me personally know that I’ve been a sci-fi geek and grew up on movies like Top Gun, Star Wars and cartoon shows like G.I. Joe. Code names and call signs like “Maverick” and “Goose,” “Red Five” or “Snake Eyes” were very cool and captured the personality and qualities of the characters who carried those names. It wasn’t a stretch for me to see that call signs, defined as unique designations to identify the broadcaster or transmitter, were a natural analogy for the kind of communication and marketing work I do best: helping my clients communicate their unique identity on the Web through photography, video and website design.

As for 51? That number was emblazoned on the bow of the USS Thomas S. Gates, the Navy guided missile cruiser on which I served from 1993-1997. I am proud to be an American military veteran, as well as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. As Americans, we enjoy so many privileges and I’m happy to have served our country as both sailor and peace ambassador. I also believe all veterans deserve our respect and active support in civilian life. I hope you’ll join me in doing business with other veteran-owned businesses in Minnesota and beyond.

Thank you all for your support of this new adventure. If you know of anyone who may be in the market for photography, video production or a new website, please send them the link to my new website along with a note about why you recommend doing business with me. You won’t believe the power of a solid referral.

Here are some other ways to support my work:

Follow CallSign51 on LinkedIn

Follow CallSign51 on Twitter

Share with your friends on Facebook


My Little Pony — Adobe Voice

Adobe just launched a new iPad app – Adobe Voice. It allows users to create short, animated videos to tell stories, share ideas or a variety of other things. Check out the short video my kindergarten daughter and I made over the weekend in about 10 minutes.

This is just another sign of the times in which we live. This FREE app will enable small business owners, nonprofits and entrepreneurs to easily create promotional or explainer videos for their work.

I found the app very easy to use. They have over 25,000 icons in the app’s library to choose from, as well as a handful of themes and songs to use free of charge.

The down side? Well, the video can only be uploaded to Adobe’s servers and shared via links or embed code. You can’t produce a Quicktime or other file to use on your own video hosting sites like YouTube or Vimeo.

That being said, links to the video and the available embed code still make it easy to use this tool for web video on your website. (Unfortunately, wasn’t savvy enough to figure out how to embed this video on WordPress. Anyone know how?)

If you need a quick, engaging explainer video for your website, definitely check out this app for iPad.

Adobe Voice is available via the iTunes store.

Smartphones cost way too much to be used just to text, call, surf and email. In this presentation for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits annual technology and communication conference, I showed how your Smartphone can be used to create stunning photographs and sophisticated videos worthy of representing your organization. In plain English, I demonstrate how your Smartphone can be used to create rich multimedia content and shave hours (and dollars) off your social media “to do” list. Don’t fear your smartphone. Master it!