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.
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

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

Some of the photographs in this blog post could be TRIGGERS or considered of graphic nature (none are newer than 2001.)

Photojournalists often go hunting for doom and gloom because that's news, and nobody wants to report boring news (well almost nobody.) Some of the world's most famous photojournalists have taken horrific photographs. 
Shouldn't photojournalists help their subjects instead of selfishly dramatizing the suffering for the sake of a paycheck? 
Let's check the record books...
"Napalm Girl" by Nick Ut, Associated Press 
This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a girl (Phan Thi Kim Phuc), was taken in Vietnam on June 8, 1972. She was running away from her village after the South Vietnamese forces dropped a napalm bomb on it.

After taking the photograph, Ut took Kim Phuc and the other injured children to Barsky Hospital in Saigon, where doctors said her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive. After a 14-month hospital visit and 17 surgical procedures, Phuc beat the odds and returned home. Ut continued to visit her until he was evacuated during the fall of Saigon.

Today Phuc is a Canadian citizen. Ut still works for the Associated Press and is currently based out of Los Angeles.
Vulture and Kid - by Kevin Carter, Johannesburg Star & NYTimes
Carter photographed this Sudanese boy trying to reach a feeding center when the vulture landed behind the child. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

This photograph was the source of a lot of controversy about Kevin Carter because he was rumored to have stopped to take the photo and then leave without helping the starving child. 

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida said this about Carter: "The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of him suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene." 

The photo was sold to the New York Times in 1993, and the Times was contacted numerous times about the fate of the boy, to which they truthfully said that they did not know if the child reached the feeding center.

On July 27, 1994, Carter took his own life. His suicide note said: "I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners ... I have gone to join Ken (recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek) if I am that lucky."

An alternative account of the scene of this photo was provided by João Silva, a Portuguese photojournalist based out of South Africa, who accompanied Carter to Sudan.

According to Silva, Carter and Silva traveled to Sudan with the United Nations aboard Operation Lifeline Sudan, landing in southern Sudan on March 11, 1993 with only 30 minutes to take photos. Silva went looking for guerrilla fighters, while Carter strayed no more than a few dozen feet from the plane.

After some time, Silva also started to take photos of children on the ground as if crying, which were not published. The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane, so they had left their children only briefly while they collected the food. This was the situation for the boy in the photo taken by Carter when a vulture landed behind the boy. Carter took a few photos before chasing the bird away.
Is it biased to publish a photo that only shows a portion of the global story?
The short answer is, maybe. But the thing is, even though a photojournalist's goal is to capture the story in one frame, it's not always possible. In the case of Carter's photo, he could have zoomed out to get the adults in the frame as well. Doing so would have probably saved him some controversy, which may or may not have saved his life.

People who argue this were not there when the photo was taken. The fact that the bird flew and landed behind the boy was the story behind the photo. The starving child was lying in a position that even had the bird wondering if the child was deceased. When the adults approached with more food, the bird would have likely flown away.
With all the prestige associated with winning a Pulitzer, how do we know the photos are not staged?
Photojournalists are not allowed to pose an image, add anything to an image, or take anything out of an image after it was taken. That is treated the same as when a reporter knowingly publishes information that is made up.

Even before today, there was always a curiosity about award-winning photos, and whether or not they followed the rules. In fact, this was something that Ut experienced with his photo of Phuc (Napalm Girl). Audio tapes from 1972 reveal that then President Richard Nixon said, "I'm wondering if that was fixed" after seeing the photo. 

After discovering that, Ut commented, "Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on 12 June 1972. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam War itself. The horror of the Vietnam War recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives."
Raising the American Flag on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press
Rosenthal was standing on Suribachi, a Japanese observation post on Iwo Jima island in World War II when he made this photo and the two that followed it. This image is the most reproduced image in history and won a Pulitzer Prize.

The third photo in the series, depicting 18 Marines smiling and waving under the flag, is what caused accusations that this photograph was staged.

The confusion about Rosenthal's photo stems from a report from Guam, where the reporter asked Rosenthal if his photo was posed. Rosenthal allegedly thought the reporter was referring to the third photo of the 18 men under the flag, which was posed.
Why do photojournalists take images depicting death (taking advantage of victims), in the interest of getting rich and famous?
One of the "Boston Photographs" by Stanley Forman, the Boston Herald American
Stanley Forman documented a young woman and two year old girl falling from this building that was collapsing because of a fire. He won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1976.

The two-year-old baby survived this fall, but the young woman, the mother, died.

A lot of people say it is unfair to the victims to publish a photo like this, showing the death of the young woman in slow motion. However, it is what actually happened. One argument was that the two-year-old, when older, would be traumatized by this photo, seeing the death of her mother.

Is it necessary to dramatize the death so publicly? It's not for shock value, and Forman didn't take the image in order to become famous. In fact, he happened to be at the scene documenting the fire. He was not expecting, and surely not hoping that such a tragedy as this would happen. 

Showing images like this, what actually happened, is important. Without the truth of what happened in an image, how is the average American supposed to take anyone's word for it? The old phrase "pics or it didn't happen" holds true more than ever, especially since we have the tools to show the images.

Conspiracy theories happen if people don't get to see what happened with their own eyes, as is evident by the death of Osama bin Laden, where some Americans now say they don't believe he is dead because they didn't see a photo of him deceased before he was buried at sea.

Showing images of death is not new and not old. In fact, it's been happening the entire time that photojournalism has been a profession.
Twin Towers Jumper 9/11 - by Richard Drew, Associated Press
Richard Drew photographed this man as he fell head first toward the ground. The man jumped out of one of  the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Suicide of Evelyn McHale by Robert Wiles, Life Magazine, NY Times
She jumped off the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City, falling to her death in 1947. This was taken a few minutes after her death.
Monk Sets Himself on Fire - by Malcolm Browne in Saigon, Vietnam 1963
This Buddhist monk lit himself on fire to protest the poor reforms of the South Vietnam government. Browne photographed the monk as he was dying.
Footage of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011 seems to have cemented the
guidelines of documenting death. That is the first time I can remember as a journalist or consumer of the media's product, when I ever remember it happening. When one of the reporters from The Weather Channel walked over a hill he took a look, and turned to the cameraman. With a tear in his eye he said, "CUT IT NOW!" 

It's worth clarifying why he did that. Journalists don't like to announce to a person's family that their loved one has died. Journalists like to wait for the police or other proper authorities to do that first. Nobody wants their first notification to be from national television or from the newspaper; it's just not right. Journalists are human beings and follow guidelines that would be expected of other human beings.
by J. Rae Chip

I've been quietly observing a trend in the photography world lately, where images are becoming more and more over-processed, over-saturated, and over-sharpened. The web world has taken kindly to the trend, so I thought that maybe a well-worshiped internet photographer [nameless for the sake of professionalism] was right when he told me [publicly on his blog in front of several million people] that I would never make it as a successful professional photographer and photojournalist because I don't over-process my work.

Admittedly, as a journalist, I have to follow certain rules about photography. However, I also shoot portraits, and I like pretty places as much as anyone else. I do use Photoshop on both my portraits and my memory-keeper landscapes I take. I've just never got too much into adjusting saturation because I think it looks fake, and I don't like the hues that sometimes come in accidentally when images are corrected heavily afterward.

Outdoor Photographer recently published an article by Tom Till, a nature and wildlife photographer, who decidedly came to a realization that he was over-processing, after receiving a harsh note from a friend. 

The other day, I went on a little escape, a day off from the city, and wandered out into the California desert. I ended up at Bombay Beach for a sunset of a lifetime, and of course the moment was ruined by an arrogant photojournalist (or at least that's what he claimed to be.)

He was there with some friends, capturing the sunset. There were Jesus Clouds, angels were singing, and the magic was in the air. His friend set up a camera next to me, and started bracketing images.

Naturally I asked, "Are you bracketing for HDR or simply just to get different exposures?" 

The arrogant guy (who had the most gear, about four filters on the front of his camera, and a shirt that said [brkt]) said defensively, "That's what you're supposed to do in light like this."

I explained that I was just making conversation and not interested in a debate about photography workflow. He asked me why I wasn't bracketing, and I explained that I'm a journalist and don't really use things like that much. I explained that I generally don't really care for the look much either, as Photomatix seems to put more grays and silvers into color scenes. I also told him it was a free country and he could shoot however he wanted.

And the sunset was ruined with his arrogance. "Well just so you know," he said, "I was a professional photojournalist."

I asked him who he did photojournalism for, and he said, "Everyone. Every publication in California, and some international ones."

Knowing that the San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and many others don't accept images that look processed, I asked him why he stopped, and he said, "It didn't pay well enough."

His friends were condescending, asking me about how to shoot RAW images. They asked me what I had shot that day, and I told them I was just out shooting abandonment, Slab City, and some other stuff for an assignment. Then the arrogant guy wanted me to tell him where all my secret spots were. He was offended when I told him I wanted to keep them secrets. 

He wouldn't tell me his name. I wasn't going to publish his name, but I wish I had it so I could see the image he made. I'm just curious if it is as awesome as he claimed it would be.
This is my image from the night. I shot it in a single exposure, with flash to fill in the ground. I suppose I could have bracketed one shot to save the over-exposed clouds directly in front of the sun. This is how the scene actually looked.
by J. Rae Chip

<<Updated March 7, 2013 because both social media networks have changed.>>

Google Plus was created over a year ago, claiming to be the haven for photographers. Now they are trying to branch out and become more appealing for everyone. As a young network, there is still a lot that can be done to improve the social media platform, but it seems to be viable competition to Facebook. 

The site preferred by the author of this blog is indicated by italic letters.

"You Might Like"


Photo Albums

Photos and Text

Noise Control

Pornography Control

Spam Control




Lists / Circles

Unfollow / Mute Post


Game Requests

Private Messages

Finding Old Posts

Post / Photo Creation Date

Share a Post Directly with User

Change Visibility of Post

Search Function

Location Data

Mobile App

Friend Requests

Cover Photo

Groups / Communities


Recommends things the user might like in the form of ads based off web traffic. 

Does not have the feature.

Photo albums are nicely organized, easily renamed and re-organized without going to another site to do it. Re-sharing a photo that was previously uploaded does not create a new copy of it and muck up the photo album.
When a photo is shared, the text from the post stays with the photograph. The caption of the photo becomes the post (or vice versa). People who post words that are important to the photo like this feature.
Openly uses an algorithm that filters out certain posts, only showing users what the algorithm thinks the user wants to see. This means that they don’t see everything from the pages they “like” unless the page owner or poster pays a fee of $49.99 to get the post seen.
Lets the user choose which shared content he/she sees in the stream and which don't show up. User can turn off movies, status updates, photos, or likes etc. and only view what he/she wants to view from certain people instead of every public aspect of their lives.
Users can flag something as inappropriate, and the Facebook team then reviews it and decides if it is inappropriate, after thanking the user for their input. Material is not immediately taken down.
Users can flag something as spam, and the Facebook team then reviews it, after thanking the user for their input. (Not immediately taken down). 
They also seem to use an algorithm to look for repetitive comments, duplicate posts, deletes them, and then the post originator can say they're not spam to reinstate them. 
Limits the number of comments a person can initiate in a day, and the number of times something can be posted on an individual's wall.
Does not have hangouts.
Can be invisible so that one can be on Facebook without having chat pop up.
Users can choose only some of their friends to see in the chat.
When one user blocks another user, the blocked is not visible in the stream of the blocker, nor can they chat. The blocked cannot see anything the blocker posts, nor does the blocker see anything the blocked posts. 
Blocked cannot chat with the blocker.

Lists can contain more than 500 things or people in them, and can be shared or subscribed to.
Some posts can be unfollowed, but not all of them.
When a person mentions you in a post you unfollowed, you get notified of it.
Advertisers have ads along the sidebar, and in the stream via pay per click or sponsored posts. Ads tailored to user interests.
Get notifications about game requests unless you block the game or block requests from that person.
Stored in one specific place, making it much easier to find conversations had there.

The timeline setup lets users go back and find any specific post they want to find without having to run a search for it.

On the timeline, you can back-date the upload to match the time when the photograph was taken / when the post was made.
In order to share a post directly with people, the user must tag them in the post.

Once a post is created and shared, user can change with whom it is shared by switching between friends, acquaintances or public etc. 
The search feature works pretty well.
Location data can be placed in the post when it is uploaded from a computer, and not just from mobile phone snaps.
Mobile app works pretty well. Users can use almost every feature from mobile.
Friend requests are kept separate from other notifications, allowing users to see each person who adds them and decide if they want to add them back.
The cover photo is made to fit a normal panorama aspect photograph.
About the same as Google+
Events are well organized, and photographs can be added to the event without making the user’s album and followers’ streams look cluttered with duplicates. Text can accompany the photo to add an explanation.
Events are kept and organized internally to Facebook.
Recommends popular things the user might like, based on what the user posts about. 
Great way to see current events that the community is talking about, including news or tech. 
Terrible! Plagued with mandatory duplicates - every time a photo is re-shared, it duplicates it and puts into a new album. Glitches, photographers forced to jump through hoops to organize them on a separate site.
When a photo is shared, the photo and the post are treated as two separate entities, and the text gets lost in the black hole while the photo remains visible in the light box.

Passively filters streams by allowing users to place a photographer in circles and then control the volume of those circles in the stream.

Doesn’t let the user choose certain posts of some people. User sees every aspect of the public lives of those whom he/she follows, leading to a very noisy stream.

Users can flag something as inappropriate, and it is immediately taken down. The poster can request a review, which is allegedly done by a person on the Google+ team.
Users can flag something as spam, and the Google team then reviews it, after thanking the user for their input. (Not immediately taken down). 
They also seem to use an algorithm to look for repetitive comments, duplicate posts, deletes them, and then the post originator can say they're not spam to reinstate them (or request review). 
Limits the number of comments a person can initiate, and the number of people a person can add per day.
Has hangouts.
Can be invisible so that one can be on Google+ without having chat pop up.
Users can choose only some of their friends to see in the chat.
When one user blocks another user, the blocked is not visible in the stream of the blocker, nor can they chat. The blocked cannot see anything the blocker posts, nor does the blocker see anything the blocked posts. 
Blocked cannot chat with the blocker.

Circles can be shared, but cannot contain more than 500 people in them. Cannot be subscribed to.
Any post can be muted and no longer seen.
When a person mentions you in a post you muted, you no longer get notified of it.
No paid advertisements, but Google promotes some posts or people for free. Ads tailored to Google's interests.

No game requests. Ever.

Private messages get lost in the soup, making it necessary to search for them.
It keeps some of the most recent posts in chronological order, but then after a certain date, looking for any past post proves fruitless because they’re in a random order.

The date cannot be back-dated to match the time of creation.

User can share a post directly with people by placing their name in the bar, tagging them in it, or by sending an email to the circle.

Once a post is created and shared, user cannot change with whom it is shared.

Terrible! Google should be embarrassed of it.
Location data can only be uploaded from a mobile phone post and not from a post uploaded from the computer.
Mobile app does not work well; users cannot use a lot of features from mobile.
When people add user, the latest 9 of them show up in the user's notifications, so the user may miss it when important people add him/her.
The cover photo is huge ... like MySpace huge (if you want it to be).
About the same as FB.
Events are more aesthetically pleasing, but uploading photos to them is a complete mess! Duplicates appear in the uploader’s albums, their followers’ streams, and text cannot accompany the photo.
Events are kept and organized on Google+ and also uploaded to Google Calendar.
In yesterday's debate Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of being responsible for the rising gas prices.

ROMNEY: "The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump. If you're paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you're paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's 

Mitt Romney was mistaken when he claimed President Barack Obama took 14 days to declare the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya as a terrorist attack.

OBAMA: The day after last month's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, "I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what 

What is the difference between propositions 30 and 38 on California voter ballots? The main difference is that proposition 30 benefits both grade school and colleges, and proposition 38 benefits grade school while threatening community colleges. Voting for both doesn't cut it because the one that gets the most votes wins.

Governor Brown’s Proposition 30 proposes benefiting California schools by means of seven years of 

Last night marked the second debate between incumbent Barrack Obama and challenger, Mass. Governor Mitt Romney. Though President Obama’s body language was disappointing to most during the first debate, the president came prepared for tonight’s debate and left Romney short-handed at the end of the debate.

The debate opened with a question from a young college student who asked what each candidate 

A hearing of Congress this week revealed some details about the attack in Benghazi of which the Vice President was apparently unaware.

The question was whether or not security should have been stepped up at the U.S. Consulate before the deadly terrorist attack.

Biden said, "Well, we weren't told they wanted more