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Recently, there were some photographs stolen from female celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton -- nude photos. And now, people everywhere have been talking about what is essentially cyber rape.

Some people blame the victims, saying they shouldn't have photos taken if they don't want them leaked. I have met very few people who have never taken a naked photo of themselves or had a photo made of themselves while they were naked. Whether that photo is for a spouse, a prospective date, for yourself, or for some sort of industry (modelling, glamour, porn, etc.) everyone deserves the same amount of privacy. 

Some say "well if you don't want them on the internet, don't put them on the internet." Well let's discuss that. The images were stolen off iCloud. Cloud storage is something many photographers use. It's cheap, and it affords a lot of storage space. The storage there is safe from fire, flood, dropped hard drives, etc. Therefore, photographers love it. Many people in the modeling / fashion photography industry use the cloud (though, I do not unless it is for people who have consented to have their images stored there). Many photographers and models live on the road, and therefore, use of programs like Dropbox are much more convenient for photograph delivery.

In what other ways can a photo be delivered? It could be mailed through the postal service, but it could get bent. It could also get stolen through those means, scanned, and put on the internet. It could get stolen out of a safe at home, scanned, and uploaded to the internet.

You don't actually have to have nude photos of yourself to be at risk of having them on the internet. Do you remember the scandal where a French magazine published images that were sneaked of British Princess Kate Middleton?

I've also seen "well then, just never be naked if you don't want others to see." For those humans who take showers and / or want to reproduce some day, that is simply not an option. And blaming the victim for the crime is an act of misogyny that must stop if we want our women to have any thread of self esteem, and if we want our society to progress at all. So what, exactly, can be done to protect yourself from having photos of you on the internet?

The fact of the matter is, no matter what opinion you have, the display of naked photos of celebrities (or anyone else) over the internet without a model release from the star and without holding the copyright of the images is illegal. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects image theft. Therefore, if the images are selfies, the actresses have complete and total control over where the images are shared, by law. Period. 

Say the images are not selfies. That means they are not the intellectual property of the stars, and therefore, the photographer or owner of the images will have to file the DMCA violation. What happens if the photographer doesn't want to do that? I would then hope that Lawrence, Upton, and the others had contracts and model releases with the photographer where it is discussed where the images can and cannot be used. If you are new to having nude photos taken (so, if you're not a famous model or something), make sure there is a model release signed. If the photographer refuses, they are not a professional photographer.

Chances are, the photographer wants to stay in business. Therefore, if the images are stolen from them and used in a way that is contrary to how a client wants them to be used, they will be right on board with filing that DMCA complaint at the federal copyright office. I will definitely do this for any client (AND I have done it in the past for a client whose clothed image was stolen off my social media account and altered for use in an advertisement without consent.)

Here is how to file a DMCA complaint (you can do it even if it is a selfie taken with your mobile phone):
                           <<<<<<<<<<I am not an attorney>>>>>>>>>>
1) Check to see if your data is date / time-stamped. Chances are, it is. If it's not, you want to start doing that.
2) Create a letter of demand. Include the following: "This is a NOTICE OF INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This content is an unauthorized reproduction of the copyrighted material originally found at (insert authorized uses here). Remove the content immediately, or the owner of this copyrighted material will file an official complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office, Google, and other pertinent parties. I am the copyright owner of this law, and the use here is illegal, and my exclusive rights as the owner are infringed. (Your full name, contact information)"
3) Search by image for any other unauthorized uses. If you find some, insert your notice into any comment lines underneath the stolen work.
4) Do a whois search to determine the web host from where the pirate rents server space, and ask them to take it down immediately.
5) If they don't take it down, ask your lawyer to help you draft a letter to the U.S. Federal Copyright Office or equivalent agency.

Moreover...... you want to do something about the infringement IMMEDIATELY when you see it. Copyright Law is complicated, but (last I checked with the Copyright Office), you have 90 days after the theft of a work to register it. If your work is registered, you can collect more money than just damages. (In other words, you can get awarded a penalty fine paid by the thief.) You want to register your work as soon as possible. You can register copyrighted works online here.

 
 
by J. Rae Chipera, owner

Photographing nude models (glamour photography) requires more than simply recruiting a model who is willing to pose nude. Obviously there are the photographic staples: lighting, set planning, composition, post-processing, etc. but there is even more than that to consider.

<<<<<Right off the bat, let’s cover some essential legal topics. Always always always check the model’s identification before allowing him or her to pose nude for you. I recommend keeping a photograph of the driver’s license for your records in case someone challenges the age of your model.>>>>>

Ok… now that my lawyers are satisfied, here’s the real article:

The decision to venture into the world of glamour photography will require you as an entrepreneurial photographer to prepare some answers to a few questions you will undoubtedly encounter when working in this field.

First, most models require a payment to pose nude even if they typically do not ask for payment otherwise. Decide whether or not you are financially capable of paying a model, and if you are, you should determine how much you are willing to pay. Models typically have a rate in mind. The industry standard for an average model is about $100. If the model is published in glamour magazines like Maxim or Playboy, expect to pay more – maybe significantly more.

There are clients who will be uncomfortable working with you if you have glamour or nude photographs in your portfolio. If your primary business as a photographer comes from these clients, then you may not want to shoot glamour. Shooting nude models will probably rule out clients who are of certain religious persuasions, and it could rule out photographing minors. This is not to say that you must choose between photographing children and photographing glamour models, but more questions will arise if you have both genres in your portfolio, even if you have pictures of the models’ driver’s licenses.
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Model: Rebecca Carter, (C) 2014 J Rae Chip Productions
Earlier this year, I photographed Melissa Kat, one of the top models in the industry. She approached me about shooting topless in an interesting empty closet with a chain and punk wardrobe. She wanted something that was more edgy than other work in her portfolio, and I thought it was a great idea. So we shot it. It was artistic and beautiful, and I was very flattered when a glamour photographer I admire praised the image. However, that image has been a new kind of adventure for me as an entrepreneur. Although neither Melissa nor I intended it this way, it was seen as a “bondage image.” Some models are uncomfortable with that. The difference between art and pornography is sometimes in the eyes of the viewer.

I have already branded myself as an edgy photographer, and it’s perceived that there are few emotional lines I will not cross for the sake of art. The vast majority of the people I know from back home – who knew me as a kid – would say I pole vaulted across a line in 2011 when I photographed Kailtyn Roberts in the Linda Vista Hospital. Some ideas from that series were hers. Some were mine.

The decision to shoot a nude model for the first time is like getting a misdemeanor. It stays on your record, and it’s something you can never undo. And it can keep you from working for certain people. Now that I have shot those photographs, I can never become appealing to certain markets. I will forever be the photographer who shot "bondage," who shot a girl nude on the set of SAW IV, who shot the girl naked in church for Chrissakes, and who shot the naked zombie in the abandoned barber shop.

So in a nutshell, if the answer to any of these questions is no, then you might not want to shoot nude models:

  1. Do I want to be known as the photographer who shot that model nude, even if it was only once?
  2. Do I intend to photograph people who are under the age of 18 on a regular basis?
  3. Do I intend to work with a lot of clients who are Christian or Muslim?
  4. Am I prepared to have people call my art “pornography?”
  5. Do I want to ever work with clients who might be offended by what I am about to shoot?
  6. Am I prepared to get negative comments from the public if they are offended by my work?
  7. Would it bother me if certain organizations refused me as a member because I photographed nude models, even if it was artistic and not pornography?
  8. Do I want to become a controversial artist?

Finally, as I often say in my writing, it is important for you as a photographer to create what makes you happy. My reputation as a puritanical photographer was short-lived. But I’m glad.

Personally, I don’t get much joy out of shooting with children or puritans, so it doesn't bother me when people say my work is “not safe for work,” “of the devil” or “painful to the eyes.” I make it for me. And for the model. And seriously……. Not once has a model ever NOT had fun shooting with my crazy props. It’s like Halloween all the time over here, and who doesn’t like Halloween?

I will honestly say that I closed some doors to business that could be open if I had never taken those images in the hospital in 2011. That is something I will forever have to deal with. BUT it has been quite a lot of fun taking those images and all the “not safe for work” photographs after that. And like all things in life, some opportunities lost meant others were gained. I’ve met a lot of amazing models, photographers, and designers whose minds are similar to mine. And really, my art would be shit if I didn’t take photographs that I enjoy, so the clientele that is a “lost opportunity” probably wouldn’t be satisfied anyway.
 
 
by J. Rae Chipera

Every artist ends up with a style they become known for, photographers included. Most of the time, that means choosing a photographic genre like portraits, landscapes, wildlife, etc. Exhale, though, because that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the genre you choose exclusively. Even some of the greatest photographers of all time ventured outside their chosen specialty if there was a photo that was screaming to be taken.

Ansel Adams is known for black and white landscapes, but he also shot in color. He took some portraits too. Robert Capa took a few landscapes.

But how should you choose your genre? There are a few different approaches you should consider when answering this question.
First, there is the mind of the businessman to consider. Lots of photographers do this. If you put “what kind of photographer” into search, the first suggestion is “what kind of photographer makes the most money.” However, there is a reason why this doesn’t work for most entrepreneurs: how much money you make does not have anything to do with the subject matter you shoot. Instead, it has to do with how well you shoot, and to a greater extent how good you are about bragging about your work.

If you decide to photograph weddings because you think wedding photographers make a lot of money, you should do it if you like that style of photography. If you don’t like what you do as an artist, you will grow to be resentful of your own creation, and that is the recipe for failure every time.

Of course, I’ve known some photographers who have made a decent living shooting only what the world around them demands. They are photographers for the business and had no attachment to the art whatsoever. So it’s not all-exclusive that one must be an artist as a photographer, but I would say that at least 99% of photographers consider themselves artists at least to some extent.

It’s best to satisfy your artistic mind. Most people don’t become artists because of the high pay, but because they enjoy their medium, whether it is photography, painting, sculpting, or otherwise.

Photographers take pictures of what they like and inspires them. Ansel Adams was an environmentalist, so it makes sense that he mostly enjoyed landscape photography. Capa was a photojournalist and Co-founder of Magnum Photos. He liked living on the edge and documenting atrocities of war, but that doesn't mean he didn't enjoy a pretty view every now and then.

Following this train of thought, maybe you should look through the photos you have taken, and see what you like to photograph most often. Maybe you like sunsets. Maybe you like flowers. Maybe you like wildlife. The first consideration when choosing a photography genre should be what you enjoy shooting most.

But what if you can’t decide? What if you like photographing everything? Okay. Next consider where you live. Travel to other places is often expensive, so what is around you that you can photograph? If you live in the city, wildlife photography might not be the most affordable option for you. Maybe you also like shooting sports. Choose something that fits with the area nearby where you live.

Are you still having trouble deciding? This time, consider choosing a style instead of a genre. Maybe you simply want to be known as a black and white photographer, but not specify the subject matter. Maybe you have a specific mood or emotion you enjoy portraying, no matter the subject.

Most people should now have an idea of what kind or kinds of photography they want to specialize in. If you still don’t know what to pick, you would be best off remaining a holistic photographer. You might not be ready to choose one thing over everything else yet. If that’s you, then you probably just need some more time to do more exploring of everything you can make photographically. And that is perfectly okay. 
 
 
by J. Rae Chip

When I was younger, I always thought New Years resolutions were dumb, and that people should live in the moment. However, since becoming an entrepreneur, I realize it's important to embrace the custom, at least just for the business. If you're a photographer, and you're looking for a good New Years resolution, maybe try some of these:

I will sell my work at a price that is fair to me, allows me to eat, pay rent, and live my life.

I will love my work, however flawed I see it as, because I created it in a moment when something was speaking to me.

I will be nice to other artists, respect them, the message they share, and the work they make, even if it is not something that I personally would hang on my walls.

I will never compare my work to someone else's work. I will remember that it is unfair of me to judge my image, which I have known for its whole life, with the image by someone else, which I have known for five minutes or less (not long enough to see the flaws).

I will create my work for me and not for other people. If other people like it, then that is great. If other people do not like it, then that is great too, because I like my work.

I will stop looking at my business as a way for me to pay for my photography gear, and I will start looking at my business as a way for me to live off my art, even if I don't quit my day job.

I will not idolize other photographers, but instead, I will respect all photographers as great artists in their own light, including myself.

I will not brag about my achievements, but I will be humble about them because many of my fans are also artists and also have achievements. That said, I will never discount the achievements of others, but rather support my friends.

I will discover how to be competitive in business, but friendly in person.
 
 
by J. Rae Chip

It's no secret that the photography world has more suppliers now than ever, and it's much harder to sell photography now than it was 20 years ago.

But you should sell your work. 

From time to time, I hear photographers say they gave their work away in exchange for exposure. I'm not saying to never do that because there is a time and place for everything, but you should sell your work. I know a fair amount of photographers who utilize the creative commons business model. And again, I'm not saying to never do that, but you should sell your work.

Some of my peers in the professional photography business use a pricing strategy called "freenomics." Essentially, it means they give away their goods and services because working for free will bring more customers into the market. It has worked for Trey Ratcliff, owner of Stuckincustoms, with his HDR photography. In fact, it brought him so many customers that he was considered to be the inventor of HDR, even though the technology is older than his business. So why did it work for Stuckincustoms?
Trey Ratcliff is not a business dummy. Stuckincustoms penetrated the market, grabbing as many customers as possible and converting more. He even created more photographers, which created a market for his workshops and whatnot. By pitching the idea that watermarks make art less beautiful, he inadvertently (or maybe it was on purpose, I'm not Ratcliff, so I can't say), created a world in the HDR photography realm that helped him profit off his competitors. People see a brilliant HDR photograph and want to buy it. They can't find the author of it (because it is not watermarked), so they assume it belongs to Ratcliff. They visit the Stuckincustoms site looking for the photo, but they can't find it. Nevermind, though, because they've already forgotten about the original photo and found a few others they want to buy instead.

Ratcliff allows people to use his work on the internet for purposes that don't generate a profit for the consumer. Essentially, his Stuckincustoms uses a freenomics strategy.

You should sell your work. Ratcliff has already flourished off the freenomics model. Of course, he's not the only one using it. And it doesn't make his business any more or less legitimate or ethical. However, he has grabbed a majority of the HDR photography market using that technique. So much so, that if you try to use it, you won't be able to keep up with Ratcliff's established business. So try something else. Develop your own pricing strategy for your business.

J. Rae Chip Productions uses a different pricing strategy than Stuckincustoms does. And again, that doesn't make us any more legitimate or ethical. Our business model generates profit for us. Ratcliff's business model generates profit for him. And they're completely different.

Some of the threats to the photography business world are the decreased costs of equipment. DSLR cameras have become inexpensive. Most cell phones can now take a good enough photo that the news will use those photos in publications. Adobe Systems Incorporated has started utilizing a subscription-based price system instead of their traditional methods, making their software seemingly much more affordable for the consumer to use.

Selling photographic prints has become increasingly difficult because of the increase in photographs that are supplied to the market due to lowered production costs. Therefore, unless you are already established as a photographer like Ratcliff is, it probably will not benefit you to give work away for free unless you conduct good research. Pricing your work appropriately is obviously important, but you should do so in a way that will make you money. Your income should overtake your expenses.

There are those who say "I don't need to sell any of my work. I'm just a photo hobbyist, so I don't need people to pay me." I don't understand. If your work is good enough that someone wants it, your work is good enough to make a bit of money. To me, that's a way of selling yourself short. It doesn't matter if you're a full time professional, how much experience you have, or who you are... you should make money off your work if people want it.

I've also heard people say they can't make money off their work because people don't want to pay. Well... as an industry, photographers are saying that their work is not valuable enough to pay for because everyone is giving in to people who say "I really like your work, but I don't have a budget." Don't believe them! No matter how bad the economic conditions are, people still have money. Because the U.S. and the E.U. are in simultaneous recessions doesn't magically mean that there is no money on this planet. A recession means that people are not spending. They spend money only on what is important to them. How does giving work away for free help at all? All it does is tell them that photography is not as important as getting their hair done or going out for dinner.

I was approached by the Chick Fil-A nearby about photographing a banquet. They said "we really like your work, but we don't have a budget." They lied to me. Of course they have a budget, or else there would be no banquet. They're a Chick Fil-A. They were just being cheap, hoping some photographer, somewhere would take the bait when they said, "we will tell everyone who asks that you took the photos." 

And I'm sure someone took the bait. And I'm sure they got screwed, because it was obvious to me when I spoke with the manager that Chick Fil-A just wanted free-quality snapshot work, and that they did not have the intention to spread any information about who took the photos. 

My best advice is to be smart. You're not going to become rich by working for free. Often times, you'll hurt your own potential, and you'll hurt the industry as a whole. Value your work enough to ask people to be respectful enough to pay you for it. J Rae Chip Productions has given work away before. We broke into certain markets by doing "trial" work for clients to build portfolio work, and show them what we were capable of. But today, if someone asked us to shoot a horror scene for "exposure" we would definitely say no. Portfolio work has to be done in a smart way, too. Clients must be evaluated to determine whether or not they actually have the potential to benefit the business if free work is given to them. 

Ratcliff has said on the record that if people can't afford his work now, that he trusts they will pay for it later. That seems to work for Stuckincustoms. J Rae Chip Productions did a "trial" shoot for a high-profile client back in 2007, showing them what we could do with a little fake blood. That turned into hundreds of bookings that generated real profits. We researched that client and discovered their success and networking connections. We did good work for them, and they talked about us to their connections, who wanted to pay us. 

You might be wondering what the difference was between them and the Chick Fil-A. That client was in the fashion industry and was asking us to deliver quality work that they could publish next to other great work from more established photographers. We decided that having our photos next to other photographers, wearing clothing designed by great designers, had the potential to generate $xx,xxx for us. Chick Fil-A wanted us to photograph a private banquet for employees who had much lower incomes than the networking connections of the previous client. We estimated that the Chick Fil-A gig could have generated us $x,xxx. $x,xxx was less than what we would have charged for the banquet shoot. However, $xx,xxx was much more than we would have charged for the hour shoot we did.

In closing, how you price your product is completely up to you. But at least I hope I've convinced you why you should make money off your hard work as well as some tools to learn how to determine what free work to do and what is just someone trying to rip you off.
 
 
by J. Rae Chip

To all the friendly people reading this and all the indifferent ones who happened upon it by mistake: I hope you get some negative feedback on your site. You deserve it. And yes, that is a complement. Want to know why? Keep reading!

I owe a big fat thank you to my internet trolls. Most businesses only get positive feedback, and consumers don't really have a lot of trust in businesses with only good feedback. It seems fabricated and fake. So I really appreciate you bringing humanity and reality to my web presence. If you are a business owner, and you have negative feedback, weigh that carefully because it's not necessarily bad. Just because John Doe on Yelp didn't like that you shoot too many flowers and sunsets and wants to spread that all over the internet doesn't mean that people who like flowers and sunsets will dislike you.

My trolls like to spread that I'm a possible psychopath with a fetish for the apocalypse. Someone once accused me of breaking and entering into an abandoned building (for the record, I don't break and enter, and I'm not a psychopath. I will plead guilty to being obsessed with the apocalypse, though.) So I don't get a surplus of people calling me to ask about shooting their newborn photography. Since newborn photography isn't my niche or a particular interest, that's not really bad for me. 
Rumors about my alleged nefariousness and creepiness have raised interest for my business in the fields I do enjoy. I get crazy calls. If the police ever tap my phone they'll wonder about the people calling me. Someday, someone is going to call me wanting me to shoot them naked in a coffin with blood all over and a sign saying "killed by the chocolate sauce killer" with chocolate sauce smeared all over the wall in the shape of a skull and cross-bones and cherries as eyes. Seriously, that could happen. And I would find that fun to shoot. (Again, I'm not a psychopath. I just like fake blood, chocolate, cherries, and naked people.)

My h8rs don't like that use a pseudo name. They'll have to get over it. It is extremely common for artists, writers, famous people, etc. to use pseudo names. It's not illegal, and I can use whatever name I want. People use pseudo names to protect their identity, which is what I am doing by using one.

Someone I admire once said that "Anyone can create something mediocre, call it art, and post it on the internet. And people will like it. But you know you're a real artist when you have a group of haters who are just as adamant as your fans." The thing is... my art can piss people off. And I'm okay with that because when they get mad, I know they took the time to look at it. It makes me happy when people look at what I create.

Between six months and a year ago, someone who was very popular online had a lot of untrue things to say about me, and it really bothered me. A bunch of other people jumped on that bandwagon. I was so upset by it that I deleted that social network page. And when the people who joined the mob against me found out the truth behind the situation, some of them felt like a$$*%@s, and they were. But when the apologized, I forgave them. One positive externality I didn't foresee was the immense jump in web traffic I got from people wanting to know who the f%&$ I thought I was. This popular person is the founder of the "Foes with an Unhealthy Compulsion for J. Rae" Club (FUC for short).

J. Rae Chip Productions' website jumped from the second page of search results for one of our target keywords to the very top slot on the first page, overnight. So thank you for the negative publicity, FUC J. Rae Club.

And now I find myself facing a new evolved form of troll: the anonymous troll with some smart friends. (I suppose it's a possibility that the troll is diabolical too, but I envision trolls more as short people with pointy noses and poofy hair who cause trouble under bridges and don't know what the frack a computer is.)

So since this new attack is all about posting alleged personal / private information of "mine" all over the public internet, I'm sure they will not mind if I name them. So... to Marty Phillips, Mondo Diaz, Amanda Kroenig, HAHAHA, Samantha Samson, and Drew Q, I would like to again say thank you. These people are the new officers of the adamant FUC J. Rae Club.

I find it ironic that these people are so angry that I use a pseudo name. HAHAHA can't possibly be the person's real name. And if it is, I totally understand why they're so angry. It's more likely that I'm being attacked by a bunch of pseudo names who are mad at me for having a pseudo name. The difference between me and them is that on my social media accounts, my profile is filled out. Theirs is not.

So this FUC J. Rae Club has several avenues. First they went with the ingenious tactic of nicely asking me about myself and my history. Blue headed Mondo Diaz asked me on Google Plus. I didn't think anything of it because I don't discriminate by skin tone. However, my professional life is not usually something I discuss on social media, as I find that saying "HELLO MY NAME IS BEST ARTIST IN THE WHOLE WORLD" all the time is a huge turn-off. I really don't like it when people do that to me, so I try not to do it to my friends. So when "Diaz" asked, I gave short answers and a re-direct to a different site where my work is more directed to the business world.

Then, when they couldn't verify every single little thread of information they found about me, they started e-mailing my friends, telling them that I was a liar. They commented on my Google Plus profile, and then courageously deleted their comments after I notified Google bigwigs of the event. Luckily I have screen shots because my fans are geniuses.

Like magic, all of a sudden I started seeing my web hits climbing again. Maybe this time I can get onto the first page of search results for an entirely different keyword. Once again, I have discovered that for some reason, someone somewhere finds me interesting enough to join the FUC J. Rae Club and start FUCing. Maybe the president of the Club, the founder, is recruiting. Maybe not. Hell if I know. Or care.

I do, however, really appreciate the ungodly amount of time these trolls must be spending marketing my business for me. It seriously is saving me a lot of money. 

That said, I did finally have to notify the police about this cyber-stalking campaign from the FUC J. Rae Club. It's not cool to post someone's personal information all over the internet. Whether or not my name really is what they say it is (redacted to protect the real identity of a person who they say I am), or if it is Jennifer Smith or Gretchen Green or Booger Flicker or whatever, it is not cool to put someone's home address on the internet. That is when it bridges the canyon from "trolling" to "stalking." I also reported it to Google.

The thing is... whether or not my real last name is actually Chipera (which I will neither confirm nor deny), I know people with that last name. I like that name, and so I use it. On Google+ I shortened it to Chip for the sake of an easier link between this website and that profile. Is Chipera a pseudo name? Who the hell cares, and why does it matter?

Trolls... please grow some humanity and stop posting someone's address on my Flickr, Google+, and 500PX profiles. How would you feel if someone did that to you? Please stop saying I'm a liar simply because you can't verify every piece of information about me with the Internet. I sure hope everyone doesn't post every aspect of their lives on the Internet. That is extremely unsafe!

So... Dear FUC J. Rae Club... thank you for being one of my most efficient marketing groups. I didn't solicit your services, but seriously this is the best free service I've ever had!
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One of the things the FUC J. Rae Club says about me is that I was never in Egypt. 

Well here's a photo that I obviously didn't take on a trip that I probably didn't go on. I also have some non-existent friends who were nice enough to host me in their house while I was not there. They didn't even feed me! Since they are paranoid about internet stalkers (though I can't understand why, because obviously there is no such thing as internet stalkers), it is hard to verify their nonexistence by simply the internet alone. And I respect their privacy, so I don't see a reason to ever reveal their identities for any stupid reason. I will not divulge that even if you pretend to be the FBI.

This piece, which I drew freehand with a box of crayons while sitting at a desk in the United States, having never seen the pyramids or the sphinx, is my single most-popular piece. It has sold hundreds of copies. It has been in three galleries in three different countries so far (none of which post photos of the art on the internet out of respect to the artists), which is part of the reason why I chose them. I like having more control over my work as it appears on the internet. If you want to see my expert crayon skills, this piece is currently being exhibited in New Mexico. Stop by and go take a look at it if you want.

And no... this blog post is NOT sarcastic. At all.

 
 
by J. Rae Chip

I think everyone can relate. 

There's a fine line in life between doing what you love, and doing what you need to do in order to pay the bills. If you feel like I just revealed some secret to you, then I am envious of you.

Seven years ago I left a job I hated - a job where I endured emotional abuse, worked long hours for no extra pay, a job where I was very competitive, but never promoted for alleged sexist reasons I could never prove - a job where I made six digits of pay a year. Money only goes so far in buying happiness, and I was not happy. I left that job and decided to just do what I enjoy for a while to see how it goes. And what a ride it has been!

There are consequences to that, and I discover new ones every day.

Leaving a job with a hostile work environment caused me to make some choices about running my own business. First, I decided I would never treat my employees the way I was treated by my former employers. What my old boss didn't understand was that when your employees feel like you are loyal to them, care about them and their well being, and give them perks for working for you, then like magic, your employees are more loyal to you. Employers can't always afford perks like cafeterias, adult playground slides, or in-house medical care. But employers can at least go to the appropriate lengths to not create a hostile work environment.

With that comes the creation of a job that people actually want to do and enjoy doing. In the arts business, it's especially important to make a position for a passionate artist and hold their passion. There is nothing worse than taking a hobby and making it a job, and then having that suck all the fun out of something that was once a hobby.

There are a lot of complications to my life that come with doing the art I want to do instead of the art that could make me money, but sucks the fun out of it. The artists reading this are saying there's not a lot of money in art, but I disagree. There is a lot of money in art if you are willing to do the kind of art that everyone wants to buy... the thing is though, that artists don't work well that way. Art is an expression of the artist's soul. People don't want to buy your soul in this day and age. They want you to sell them their own soul.
Picture
An abandoned KA-Bar paper factory in Brawley, California. This place was torn down, so I can't go back, but I loved running around inside, and I loved making this piece of art.
That's why people expect so much from wedding photographers. I don't shoot a lot of weddings. I don't enjoy them. I end up making my photos look how someone else wants them to look instead of making them look how I want them to look. People are supposed to hire a wedding photographer whose style mixes with their own, but yet I get requests to shoot them. And then when I meet with the bride, she asks for something bright and pretty. I'll take a wedding on occasion if I need to or wanted to, but I don't love shooting them. It's a constant decision between the opportunity to make more money shooting events like weddings, or shooting something I love for less money. Even when you're your own boss, you sometimes need to do things you don't love. I also don't love accounting, but if I don't do it, the IRS would be knocking on my door and asking for money; not only that, but it is unethical to not file your taxes.

Marketing is a challenge for my business. I am sometimes loud about the fact that Facebook and Google Plus make it harder for me by not allowing me to post my best work on their platforms because it has nudity in it (though, for some reason, other people can get away with it, but that is the subject for another time.) That's their choice, as it is their business to make a model for, but it complicates my marketing plan and again forces me to choose between doing what I love and compromising that in order to be able to market my work on social media. It gives other artists what I consider to be an unfair advantage over me in the business world, and therefore, I consider that kind of segregation to be harmful to the consumer.

Social media isn't the only internet source pushing me to make that compromise. One would think that I can do whatever the hell I want with my own site. I can, really, but it's hard to build links to my website. People who focus on search engine optimization know why that is important. A lot of directories or linking companies put a restriction on their sites, saying that anyone under the age of 18 should be able to see what they link to. I have warning messages on my site saying that minors should not use it because I do what I love, and I love horror and macabre. I love the human body, so I do art pertaining to that. I have to find creative ways to market that don't always include the internet. 

I'm still trying to figure out how to do what I love and survive. But for now, I'm surviving.

I am currently working with an author on illustrating her book. I'm working with a cast to make the scenes come to life, and I'm travelling to faraway exotic places, hiking up mountains, and climbing down canyons for pictures. And I love it. I'm working on some horror scenes that will be used as stills for a movie. And I love it. I'm working on some personal projects right now, something I haven't had time for in a long time. And I love it.

Giving good benefits and being nice isn't the only thing that contributes to a positive working environment. When I left my previous job, I also promised myself I would always conduct business in an ethical way. I also love journalism. So in addition to my own business, I was working for a while as the photo editor for a paper here in San Diego. I loved it, but the moment I decided I didn't love it, I quit.

When the editor-in-chief and some of the other editors on the paper needed a photo and we didn't have it, didn't want to license it, and couldn't get a courtesy photo, they pressured me to steal a photograph off the internet and publish it. I decided I didn't love it anymore. I will not steal work from someone, especially someone like myself who is just trying to pay their bills doing what they love. The other editors tried to hide behind a law that is still a gray area and not intended to be used in that way. I was all of a sudden once again faced with a decision to either do something I don't love - something that compromised my moral code, and even jeopardized my reputation and possibly my wallet - or to make less money.

My reputation as an ethical entrepreneur is very important to me, so I chose to resign from that position.

That closed another marketing door for me, so I'm branching out. I decided I also enjoy graphic design elements, and I enjoy producing and making short films. So I'm going to do a lateral branch out, and hopefully I'll be able to market those better than I can market photography because I won't have to contend with no-nudity rules as much.

I'm showing my work in galleries in other areas around my country and the world besides just places that are close to where I live. I'll let you know how that goes, too.

It's a complicated, hard thing... making your living doing what you love, but I'm determined to make it work for me. 
 
 
by J. Rae Chip

Photographers... do you use Apple or PC products? I think there is a good split between the two. I use Windows. There comes a day in business' lifetimes when equipment becomes obsolete and must be replaced. My Dell Inspiron still runs, actually, and is a great personal computer now, but it's past its forecast business lifetime and was therefore up to be replaced.

After much unwanted drama with Best Buy (read it HERE), I ordered a Lenovo IdeaPad for my photography business, and like most new computers, it came with Windows 8, a steep learning curve for me. 

Please allow me to give you this Windows 8 tour.

It seems that most of the tech-minded people I know don't like Windows 8 for some reason. For me, every time Microsoft Corp. decides to update their operating system, it is a learning activity for me to figure out how to do all the things I need to do. I remember being in awe of XP when I took the tour of it. My Dell Inspiron runs on Windows XP, and I love XP.

That said, my only real complaint about Windows 8 is that it doesn't have a function to run in XP mode. I checked, and it does not exist.

Otherwise, so far, I'm satisfied. I think a lot of people just haven't figured out how to use Windows 8 yet, and that's understandable. In fact, it makes me feel better that I'm not the only tech-challenged sub-35 year old individual on the planet. (I know of at least one other, and he has had the same last name as me since he was born.)

Contrary to popular belief, you can customize the Windows 8 start screen. If you click on the tiles and drag them to new positions, they will be stuck there. I have a nice dock of Adobe functions so they're all together for me to use for my photography business. Then I have another dock of office programs, accounting programs, etc. For touch-screen computers, you can do it on screen. You can create a new dock by holding a tile between established docks. A vertical bar will show up, and then drop the tile there.

If you right click a tile, it brings up a menu, and you can ask it to make the tile smaller (or bigger), or you can deactivate the animated tiles. You can un-pin a tile from the Windows 8 start menu so the tile never shows up on that screen again. You can even uninstall a program from the right click function. 

Allegedly, Windows 8 was developed for people who like touch screens. They're trying to turn your computer into a phone. As a photographer, I like my screen to be clean, so I don't have a touch screen. 

If you have a touch screen you can still right click, but you can also touch the bottom segment of the screen, and a dock will pop up. Click on the tile and hold onto it for a second until a check mark pops up, and then you should be able to utilize all the functions as if you right clicked.

Pressing the windows button from the desktop brings you to the start screen. Pressing the windows button from the start screen brings you back to the desktop. You're welcome. 

You can also get back to the start menu from the desktop by moving your mouse to the lower left corner where the Windows icon used to be. The Windows 8 start menu will pop up once you move off screen, and then you can click on it.

Pressing the windows key and holding it while you press w brings you a small new Windows 8 menu where you can search for programs on your computer easily. Again, you're welcome. Make sure you have the apps option selected if you are looking for a program (I guess Microsoft wanted to emulate a phone operating system and utilize the word "App.")

Pressing the windows key and holding it while you press c gives you a menu where you can go to the start. Or if you click on "settings" in there you can shut down or restart windows.

If you downloaded something and it doesn't show up on the start screen, you can find it in the windows w menu and ask the computer to pin it to the start menu. If you downloaded something as a zip file, you have to unzip it in order for it to show up on the start menu, just like before.

You can update your start menu profile photo by clicking on it and uploading one or taking one with your webcam.

Are you bilingual? If you click on your photo and name in the start menu, click on "change profile photo" but instead click on "general" in the menu and scroll down to "languages" to install a second language on your machine. Go to "language preferences," and from there you can "add a language." This is actually much easier to do with Windows 8 than it has been with previous operating systems.

Clicking or touching the top of a program and moving downward off the screen will close the program for you. Also, moving or touching from the left side to the right side will change the screen to your most recently used app. If either of those things annoy you, you can deactivate them under the profile photo on your start menu, under the general tab and "app switching." This tab is generally your control panel now.

You can change the background of your lock screen and start screen under the new control panel and the "personalize" menu. Change your desktop background by right clicking an image and saying "set as desktop background," just like before.

To change the screen saver you can go to the windows w menu and search for "screen saver." That will find the menu for you. And holy cow you'll realize that the menu is the same as what you remember from previous versions of Windows.

Do you have any other questions about Windows 8? (That a dummy like me could answer?)
 
 
by J. Rae Chip

I'm about to go abroad for some great photography fun! (Are you?)

Obviously, I'm going to pack cameras, lenses, batteries, etc. and depending on where you're going and what you're shooting, your list for what to bring for that will probably be different than mine. 

Before you start packing every piece of photographic equipment you own, there are some things you need to pack and check on first!

Make sure you have a guidebook for the place you're going. Read it. Now pick the places you want to see, and think about what lenses you might need to capture them in images. Set only those lenses aside, along with two camera bodies, batteries and chargers, and at least two memory cards.

 
 
by J. Rae Chip

This post is an addition to a previous blog entry that goes into better detail about steps you need in order to act on issues presented in the following paragraphs. You can find the previous blog entry here.

Law in the United States is about as straightforward as warp drive technology. Copyright law is a constant issue for artists because it’s hard to understand. I have literally called the U.S. Copyright Office to ask a question on two separate occasions and received different answers.

However, recent events have caused me to be forced to clear up my own understanding of copyright laws in the United States.

Most of my experience has been with published work and copyrights, as I have been published a few times.* If you grant them LICENSE to your work for the sole purpose in the contract. I could license something for use / reproduction, derivative work production, distribution, etc. If I license a work to someone for use purposes, that does not give them the right to use it outside of those terms, and I could sue them if they do because they are violating my copyright. Before I license work, I have a lawyer look at their licensing agreement as a way to help me decide if I want them to use it for that purpose, and whether or not they have motives to do other things with my work. I’d highly recommend doing the same.

I register all my work, licensed, published, or unpublished, with the U.S. Copyright Office, and it is really important to do that. Unless work is registered prior to its theft, the artist cannot collect punitive damages if his or her work is stolen. If it is unregistered, it is still copyrighted; however, the artist can only collect actual damages. This means that the artist can only collect moneys they lost from the theft of the image, and it is the thief’s responsibility to prove they made profits of their own accord and not because of the stolen image.

The first thing I learned recently is that I really need to make a will. My work is worth more once I’m dead that it will ever be worth while I am alive. I imagine, without even getting my work appraised, that I could exceed the $1 million limit set by the IRS defining the point at which beneficiary has to pay estate tax. People who I name in my will would likely have no idea what to do with my work once I’m gone, and I need to outline it for them in the will. IE I need to say who I want to get all my printed work, paintings, digital copies, how much they are worth, and then even give directions for filing the paperwork.

I learned that you really do need to WATERMARK your work. The image I had stolen was one submitted under the stipulations that it not be watermarked, and it was a mistake to agree to that. Watermarking an image shows the users that it belongs to someone. Though you’re not required by law to put a copyright notice on your work anymore, a thief can claim it was accidental and he or she thought it was public domain unless there is a notice on the work, and that significantly reduces the amount of money you collect from the lawsuit.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can get cheap or free advice because of the Visual Artists Rights Act. If you Google it (or Bing it), there are resources available to residents of most states.

Lastly, I learned that copyrights solely belong to the “author” of the work unless it is written into a contract, and even then it might still belong solely to the “author.” A photographer maintains all rights to his or her own work unless it is “work for hire,” which means you are doing it for an employer. If you got a W2 because of the photography work you made, that is work for hire. Doing work for another person based on a contract is not work for hire. My work as a journalist is work for hire. My work as a freelance photographer is not work for hire. Another reason why someone else could own rights to the copyrighted material is if they contributed part of it, and it has to be a portion that can be copyrighted. A designer cannot own part of the copyright, nor can the model. However, the designer and photographer can have a say in how the image is used because it is their clothing or image being displayed.

A book I highly recommend purchasing: Art Law Conversations: A Surprisingly Readable Guide for Visual Artists by Elizabeth T. Russell

*The Albuquerque Journal, Arab San Diego, The Aztec, Department of Defense Reporting, Egypt Daily News, Gothic Beauty Magazine, The Guardian, Inked Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Maadi Messenger Magazine, Moderate Camel Chronicle, The OB Rag, The Oklahoman, Pinup Magazine, San Diego City Times, San Diego Union Tribune