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:https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1211158
http://schema.org/docs/gs.html

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:
THANK YOU
Michael Russell, Leo Deegan, Harald Wagener, Martin Heller, and Rachael Alexandra for struggling through this with me.
Picture
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

SOMEWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

TORRANCE COUNTY, 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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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"

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
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:
abuse@imgur.com

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

Ok so this is a blog post about fake blood, so it should be common sense, but just in case...
THE IMAGE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS BLOG POST (BELOW THE TEAR LINE) MIGHT BE DISTURBING TO SOME AUDIENCES. PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 OR THOSE WHO ARE SENSITIVE TO GRAPHIC SCENES SHOULD NOT VIEW THE IMAGE BELOW THE TEAR LINE. For more information, please consult our terms of service.

 
 
by J. Rae Chip

The town of Danzig was located about halfway between the towns of Ashley and Wishek in south central North Dakota. In 1898, the Danzig Post Office opened, according to Ghost Towns of North Dakota. It closed and reopened again while the town struggled to populate. The population of Danzig never grew beyond 100 people, and one of the industries in the town, like most North Dakota towns, was agriculture. The remaining buildings of Danzig are two grain elevators (aside from the house of the two remaining inhabitants of Danzig.)

The book Danzig, North Dakota: 1906 - 2000: Gone But Not Forgotten by Geneva Roth Olstad, clarifies that Danzig was not really big enough to be a town until the Post Office's reopening in 1906. Olstad, a Danzig native, was born in 1944 on a farm just north of town. She said that most of the businesses in Danzig had already disappeared by then. She remembers attending a Christmas program at the Salem Evangelical Church. She attended the Danzig grade school and said it is said that she can never go back home again since Danzig no longer exists. However, she says that a piece of her heart will always remain in Danzig, North Dakota.
 
 
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?)