by J. Rae Chip

2013 was a great year for J Rae Chip Productions, but a unique one as the images that made us the most money were not posted on social media. This year, social media showed the world the work we took for hobby purposes, and it was nice to have that freedom. We grew and expanded into Imperial County in addition to San Diego County. We transitioned from being the firm that documents "naked zombies" and political protests to being more artistic, documenting trash, pollution, and we went on a journey to illustrate a thrilling book about American heroes. Most of our portrait sessions were shot without social media permissions, and that gave us a chance to explore Imperial County before expanding out to there. 

The images that people seemed to love most were the ones I took in some of my favorite places. These places spoke to me for a reason, and I'm glad they spoke to my audience.

2013 was the year that taught me how to deal with negative press, stalkers, competitors who want to bring down the brand, and cyber bullies. However, it also taught me more about myself as an artist. These images were taken with my camera, but each of them contains a piece of my heart. And you will notice that my heart isn't full of macabre and gore. On the contrary, my heart is full of edginess, haunt, and also beauty.

It is almost 2014, and J Rae Chip Productions still exists despite the best efforts by those who find our work controversial. We still employ other artists, and we all still eat and pay rent. We also assume we will continue to exist. We learned something valuable that other artists need to hear before looking at the images below: Art is done to please the artist, not the audience. Create art for you and never mind everyone else. Find people who are like you, and show them your work. Those are the people who will support your craft, and again... never mind everyone else.

This year, they are all safe for work.... weird.

#13: "Three Sisters After Dark"

These are some of my favorite trees. It's odd that I can take photos of these every time I visit them, and the photos always look different. I am considering whether or not I want to make a 365 project out of these trees.

#12: "Heavens"

This is one of my favorite places to camp. My friends in East Jesus let me pitch my tent here (they also offer me a bed). I don't often keep the rain fly on when I camp here, and I'm sure you can guess why. The light pollution is almost non-existent.

#11: "Haunted Pier"

I'm glad this image made the top list this year, as it is taken at one of my favorite places. I stand here and meditate sometimes, daydreaming about the history of this resort town that is now almost a ghost town. 

#10: "Milky Way Smoke"

One of the creepiest places I've ever been to, this place has a metal piece hanging down about to fall apart. When the wind blows slightly, it moves, and it sounds like someone is coming behind me, ready to knife me for intruding on their space. Yet I never actually get knifed. Sacrifice all for your art, though! This photo was fun to take. Half the thrill of it was the fear running through my blood, and I'm glad social media liked the image so much.

#9: "Vampire Swim Suit Model"

This image of model Kaily Sanders became popular. I'm known for macabre, and this was something we decided to do for her portfolio. She wanted something edgy, and I wanted something fashion. So this is the compromise we settled on: J Rae Chip Productions' take on bikini modeling.

#8 "God Clouds on the Farm"

This is an image I took from my car. I was on a little-used back road, and it was flat as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately it was a two-lane road with no shoulder. So I stopped in the lane real quick and snapped this photo. I think I might have been in South Dakota. It might have been Nebraska. It's a sunset, and it's beautiful, so people like it. I'm honored it made the list because it was taken from the car. I run (with help) the #fromthecartuesday theme on Google Plus.

#7: "Habitat for Insanity"

This image was taken in the Slabs, and it is an image of my friend's house. The architect made it out of trash found in the desert.

#6: "Borderline Personality Disorder"

This image starring model Eurocat, was taken in the studio and reflects a mental disorder.

#5: "The Hotel New Mexico"

I took this image while on a photo walk with a colleague I met on Google Plus. I've always wanted to shoot at this location, and I finally had the time to make it happen. This abandoned hotel was by far one of the most fascinating places I've ever explored.

#4: "Alien Crash Site"

This image's induction into my 2013 hall of fame shows that my social media following appreciates my sense of humor (and that of the unknown artist who made this scene out of trash found in the desert). Thanks for the laughs and good times, guys.

#3: "Kindness for Kimber"

The fact that this image was so popular really warms my heart. It represents the kindness people on Google Plus showed me by helping me pay his vet bills when he decided to jump out of my second story window. This dog is more than my best friend - he is my family, and we had a print sale to raise money for his care. And lots of friends helped. Some strangers helped. Even some people who I thought hated me, shared the sale.

#2: "The Grumpy Sunset"

This was one of the most beautiful sunsets this year, and proof that if you post a simple sunset photo on social media, everyone will like it. We had some spectacular sunsets in Ocean Beach, and this was one I happened to be present for. It was taken with my infrared camera.

#1: "Post Apocalyptic Living Room"

I took this image while filming my big corporate commercial, where you can view the behind-the-scenes steps this image underwent. The model is PDN, a fabulous male model and actor. This image quickly jumped to my top image both on social media and in sales. Sales of this image even flew past the images of mine that are hanging in galleries.
In May of 2000, the Cerro Grande Wildfire began as a controlled burn originally lit by the U.S. Forest Service. It became out of control because of high winds and drought conditions. The fire resulted in the burning of 48,000 acres of forest as well as the homes of over 400 families of the city Los Alamos, New Mexico. Amazingly and luckily there was no loss of human life (and no danger was posed to any materials inside Los Alamos National Laboratory.) 

As a resident of Los Alamos, I remember that smoke plume looking like a hand reaching up to the heavens as we evacuated, feeling helpless to do anything about it. I remember watching the destruction of homes on the news, feeling as if it were unlikely that we would be able to return to a town at all. I remember the Los Alamos Fire Department working long hours to fight the Cerro Grande fire while the other fire crews deemed it too dangerous to stay. It is because of the LAFD that most of the houses in the city were saved, and many of the firemen fought to save the houses of their neighbors while their own house burned to the ground.

This photograph was taken in March of 2011. Eleven years later the hillside is still barren. This fire taught firemen everywhere how to fight wildfires more efficiently. Because of the mistakes made here, homes were saved from the Wallow Fire in Arizona and then from the Las Conchas Fire in these same mountains in June of 2011. Indeed it is true that from all bad, good is born.

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San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon Wheel Chair Invitational Event

Out of all of the athletes at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon (3 June 2012) I found the wheel chair invitational athletes to be the most inspirational. (I'm a former athlete and marathon runner who now can't run.) These athletes didn't let their disabilities get in their way, though! Some of these wheel-chair-sporting athletes finished this 26.2-mile race in under three hours by "running" this marathon with their hands on tricycles similar to this one!

This photograph was taken on the final stretch when the finish line, located next to Sea World, came into view. This was a successful year for the Rock and Roll Marathon, raising over a million dollars for cancer research, and the Wheel Chair Invitational was a great addition to the event.  
San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon Winners

Russian Alevitina Ivanova finished the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 44 seconds, making her the fastest woman runner in the marathon. She is pictured below running the final stretch of the Rock and Roll Marathon just before crossing the finish line at Sea World, San Diego.  
Kenyan Nixon Machichim, an olympian, finished the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in a staggeringly-fast 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 3 seconds. He is pictured here crossing the finish line at Sea World.  
As a general rule I expect to get paid for my work, but I am legally authorizing this article AND photo (together only and as they are only) to be used by any San Diego news agencies or the San Diego Police without compensation as long as I receive credit for my work by mention of my name and/or business name.

There was an emergency scene outside Fluxx Nightclub on 4th Street in downtown San Diego while this photojournalist was working on a different project capturing the San Diego night life and homeless population for Jessica Rae Photography's (my business) annual "Photography to Combat Homelessness" charity. The fire crew were happy to be a part of the photos, and out of courtesy for them, I stayed out of the way and made sure their faces were unidentifiable. I did not photograph the injured girl out of respect for her privacy. The manager of the Fluxx Nightclub came outside to tell me that I was not allowed to take photos outside the club. (Anyone is fully within the law to take photographs of anything visible from a public street.) After calling the cops, the manager stated that the cops were not going to do anything about it (presumably because I was not in the wrong). He then attempted multiple times to fling the camera out of my hands and damage my personal and business property. He shone the flashlight into my lens to ruin every shot afterward, and even followed me down the street doing that for some time.

Upon further pressure toward him, I discovered that the "manager" did not want me photographing there NOT because of the injured girl, whose privacy I respected, but because he did not want any evidence of his letting underage girls into his club. I had another photographer with me who would be willing to verify this statement by the "manager." No wonder the Fluxx Nightclub is the most popular club in San Diego! 
One of the things that makes America a great place is the right of the people to peacefully assemble. HOWEVER.... In my personal opinion it is WRONG to recruit a child to protest with you. Regardless of whether or not the protest supports something that would benefit a child, they cannot make up their own mind and make an educated decision about what the protest stands for, so they should not be recruited into protesting at the rally. There were many people who had their children with them which I do not find questionable, but when you hand the kids a picket sign.... that is something I have a problem with!

This is a protest by the Westin Workers in downtown San Diego - they want free medical care for their families. There were probably about 30 people assembled here, but they made more noise than the Occupy protesters did!