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.
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

Sometimes as a photographer, I get stuck in what I like to call "the abyss of the perfect frame." Film shooters might know more about what I'm saying. You go out with your camera and shoot 24 or 36 frames. Limiting yourself to just a few dozen photographs ensures you only shoot when everything is perfect. Then you develop the negatives, and when viewed under the enlarger, there is only one frame out of those few dozen that you think is worthy of your portfolio or just one that you think garners the vision you had for that particular shoot.

But that doesn't do if the client paid for more than one image. In fact, it can be a death sentence if you only have one frame you deem good enough. One saving grace is that inevitably, the client will always have a completely different opinion about which image is the perfect frame.
"The Haunted Shower" - model: Calissa Lieben
For this particular shoot, I wanted to shoot glamour model Calissa Lieben as the ghost haunting the shower. Though I had many shots, this was the only one that I thought really captured that story. But I needed more than one to satisfy the shoot. So what do I do?

Well sometimes, even though one image tells the story just fine, adding a few other frames gets the story better. Calissa didn't get to see the images after I took them, as I had to scurry back to California right away, but I have a good idea of what models like, and I discerned that she would like the last image in my series the best - the one that looked the least like a ghost and the most like a model. 

These three images were not taken in this sequence, but when looking at each photo individually and rearranging the negatives or thumbnails in different ways, I was able to find the perfect three-photo series that tells the story of the sighting of the beautiful ghost and highlights just how beautiful Calissa is.
These are my two main objectives as a photographer who shoots horror: 1) Show the fear. 2) Show the beauty. The different emotions that Calissa was able to show on her face is an added bonus.

Adding the extra frames made me as the photographer - the creator - wonder what would happen if I took her hand in the last frame and followed her. I wondered how she died. What is she disgusted about in the second frame? If I as the photographer now have questions, the photo series tells the story needed.
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 Chipera
Owner, portrait photographer

A reliable model is a beautiful thing. Literally.

Every portrait photographer has had at least one model flake on them. If they haven't, then they're either lying or they've only photographed a model or two.

Simply, the way you get a model to show up to your planned shoot - is to promise something in return. If you don't want to pay the model, then you have to offer something else of value. And offering "prints" or "exposure" is not going to cut it. Contrary to the "dumb model" stereotype, I've never worked with a dumb model. They've all got brains to think with. Professional models are professionals. That means they do business, and that means models think.

The world of business is all about revenues and expenses. If the model isn't going to directly make money from you, offering something that could make them money indirectly is key. The mind of the professional model thinks about how to make more money just like the mind of any entrepreneur.

I once took a gig for free simply because of who I knew would see my photographs. In this case, it was technically working for "exposure," but not in the typical sense. In my little entrepreneur mind, it was a gamble. A risk. But it was worthwhile because my photos were seen by a fashion diva, and I got time to speak with one of the editors of a magazine I wanted to be in - and get advice about what they looked for in photography.

Had the model approached me asking to shoot for trade, I would have said no. But she said, "I would like for you to photograph me. I cannot pay you, but I can promise that your images will be seen by ___________." I went to her Model Mayhem page and saw that she had the professional experience to back it up. So I took the risk.

That brings me to the second point: never lie and promise what you can't deliver. If you can't promise anything, you'll be stuck working with the noobs until you're also not a noob. And if you promise something cool, be confident about it. If you seem flaky, the model will flake.

I have had models want to work with me when I promised them publication on my site and in a eZine. A few were eager to get put onto metal prints and displayed as art around the United States. I offered them something.

No business engagement in any field is ever completely flake-proof, but this is the way to get people to commit and take you seriously as an entrepreneur.


Step 1: Confidently promise something it's obvious you can make good on.
Step 2: Deliver that thing.

Playboy / Maxim's Caitlin Lee poses for me in the light.
by J. Rae Chipera
(not a Twitter stockholder)

Alas, my un-named source who works for Google has informed me about the truth behind the rumors that Google+ will abandon ship.

The truth is that they are dismantling Google+ and all existing employees are going to work on the secret Dinosaur Cloning Development department. Jurassic Park will benefit our economy by eating Facebook. After all, Google's only concern as a corporation is NOT increasing the wealth of its shareholders and ensuring the longevity of its long-term assets - it's all about taking down that face place. 

The reorganization originally happened because of a broken light bulb. Nobody could figure out how many Google employees to get to fix it. Thus the light bulb went unchanged, and our beloved Mr. Vic Gundotra had to resign because he couldn't see the power button to turn his computer on at work.

With his departure, the entire platform will go to the Dinosaur Development project because no project on earth has ever survived after its leader leaves - ever. In the history of all time. Though people have been working hard on Google+, it's just not allowed to function anymore now that Gundotra is leaving.

<<Disclaimer: This truth has been completely made up. Thanks for clicking.>>>
by J. Rae Chip

<<UPDATED 3/15/2014 due to additional information from a Google employee>>

Bigger photos in links: a photographer's dream come true, but a headache to make it work in some cases.

Google rolled out a new feature on their social network, Google Plus, and it quickly became a popular topic of conversation. Big links are a great solution to a debate: should links emphasize the content or the photograph? And in my opinion they look great.

The problem is that they don't seem to work consistently throughout the internet. Some photographers have had the luck of the big links just happening and others have not. I originally thought that, like all new features, it was just going to take more time for it to reach my profile. In this case, though, that was not true. I could post a link to someone else's page and it was big; I just couldn't make links from my own blog work in that way.
British Columbia photographer Michael Russell, whose post to the right, was one of the several people including employees at Google who helped me troubleshoot why big links did not work. That is important because I can't be the only person with this issue.

We thought it might be because I did not have authorship enabled, as one Google employee suggested on my initial test post.

Harald Wagener
Yesterday 6:48 PM+
+J. Rae Chip you need rich snippets on your site:

The language on the schema site is a bit too complicated for me, so Martin Heller helped me attempt to use webmaster tools to get my website and plus profile communicating better. Though we got it to work, that did not fix the problem completely.

It didn't fix mine initially because there was more work to be done, but it might help some people.

Leo Deegan, one of my favorite Googlers who works closer to this topic, helped too. He thought it had to do with a code that had to be in the head of the website. Inserting the code <meta property="og:type" content="article"/> in the head works for some people.

Taking those steps caused big links to work on my site on SOME of my blog posts but not ALL. In any case that's better than none, and I'll take it.

((UPDATED 3/15/2014: Via Leo Deegan again Yesterday 10:29 PM on the right, the algorithm has trouble choosing an image if there is more than one in the post.

I was able to trick it into publishing the header image in the big link by publishing the below photo afterward.

However, Deegan suggested the more correct way for people with control over their HTML: "move your main image of the blog post to be the first image in the mark-up."))

Like all things, this feature is not perfect. But one of the things I like about Google's social media site is that Google tries to help people as much as possible. Try getting this kind of response at the Face Place.
The evolving conversation on my social media account is below:
Michael Russell, Leo Deegan, Harald Wagener, Martin Heller, and Rachael Alexandra for struggling through this with me.
This is what it will look like when your authorship is verified in Webmaster Tools.
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

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.
by J. Rae Chip

I finally became famous. There was a reddit thread talking about my work. That's all fine and dandy, but when it crosses over to encouraging people to break federal copyright law and screw over the artists... that's when it gets blogged about. 
I see the moderators have since changed the wording to exclude the phrase where they told users to upload content to Imgur, but I have a screen shot of it from before. The post has allegedly been deleted, but it seems that the link is still supported as pointing to the post. So if you are a delusional artist, you probably want to scour Imgur looking for your work where it is not supposed to be.
So the good thing is that they are no longer encouraging people to steal photos from artists. However, that does nothing for the people who have already had their work uploaded to Imgur without their consent.

If you find your work on Imgur because of this forum or another, write to this e-mail address requesting it get removed:

And as always... register your work at the federal copyright office.
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.