The Digital (and Conceptual) Crossover in the Visual Arts

ChemoDigital image by Jorge Parra Photography
©Jorge Parra

This discussion comes out of a real aha! moment, after attending the presentation of Howard Herring, President and CEO of the New World Symphony America’s Orchestral Academy , during one of the fantastic Creative Mornings Miami events, under the efficient leadership of Maliks Benjamin

I have previously started a discussion on the impact of digital technologies in the way we do business, and it’s implications in the Visual Arts (see for example, but there is still more to talk: a critical conceptual and relevant element in the discussion was very clearly exposed by Mr Herring in his presentation: the fact that many artists and creators are still having issues embracing digital technologies as the way to create new work.

 Of course, we are the generation dealing with the transition process, and that is already hard and harsh. Many of us learnt our craft the “analog way” and many are reluctant to just switch over to digital technologies.

It was impressive to hear Herring talk about the problems in the music world, all the more so in classical music ( Mr Herring is in charge of developing the right digital tools and strategies to teaching classical music to young musicians, whose interests are mostly elsewhere) and the experience has been quite challenging and yet, successful.

Many other artists, and specially photographers, have had troubles in embracing digital cameras, computers, software, plug-ins etc, etc, after having lived for decades under the analog technologies, shooting in film, chemical processing, chemical printing, manual retouching of both negatives and prints, tons of darkroom techniques to produce “alternative” results, and then, in the scope of less than 10 years, it all changed. Film manufacturing is going to minimum amounts, Kodachrome ceased to produce new film, ( actually, Kodak went out of business!), Polaroid closed doors, and , while still a few artists keep shooting in film ( just the same in the movie industry), most shooters from older generations have had to forcefully adapt, in an attempt to not go down the drain.

It is then when Herring’s presentation brought in a fantastic insight to the state of things, bringing back from the past no other than Marshall McLuhan, a well respected communications visionaire from the 60’s and 70’s. Herring recalls one of the most remembered phrases, “The Medium is the Message”, and even though McLuhan did not even foretold the advent of the internet and the digital revolution, the relevance of his words resonate today more than ever.

Basically, in current terms, we have to understand, absorb and digest the fact that EACH NEW MEDIA IS MEANT FOR AN INTRINSICALLY NEW MESSAGE.

 And here’s a simple train of thoughts I offer to explain this:

Back when the telegram was invented and put to use, communications were brief and to the point ( probably, the first iteration of Twitter). Then comes the Radio, and now the message is not just written word in a few characters on paper, there is now audio, and conversation is “streamed” through the airwaves. Then comes Television, and now the message involves both audio and moving images, generating an altogether new message (or type of messages), that no telegram or radio program could provide. You can, of course interject photography and movies in between.

So here we are, with each new media, a new message was intrinsically created and developed.Then we jump back to current times, with the Internet and all the digital technologies popping out.

We then have to question ourselves: for these new media, which are the new messages?

For the initial years, the term Disruption has been used over and over. Digital is destroying our way of life, or at least the one we have lived through several years/decades. The Digital Crossover is right there, in front of us.

But disruption is the initial stage and things just change and move on. Most everyone was convinced at the onset of the 20th century that Painting was going to die, due to the disruption created by Photography, but then again, Painting just took another, less pictorial, representational road, and thanks to that we have contemporary Painting, well away from Photography.

We then have to deal the realities of living the “disruption era” of digital technologies, the Digital Crossover. As a sad reality, among the visual artists, I see so many photographers still entangled in this recurrent and pointless drama. The fact that so many shooters are just trying to emulate analog photography, while using their digital cameras, is merely a disappointing way to deny the new message that is implicit in digital photography!

The fact that cameras look almost exactly the same may be part of the issue, but when I see so many of my colleagues, for example, longing for grain (and actually, adding noise to digital captures, in order to make them look like grainy film) and so many other complaints about how film photography was soo much better, I only have one solution to their longing: get back to film photography. Use the old media in the context it was developed. Artists and creators can still go a long way creating interesting images in film ( some movie directors, like Tarantino have sworn they will stop shooting movies when they run out of film), but in the meantime, if you are going to embrace digital technologies in your visual art, then get ready and curious to explore a new media, create and produce your own, new/revamped message.

Recently I tried to sit with my teenage daughter, to explain to her the basics of Photoshop, and she flatly refused to go there. She quickly showed me all the editing she does directly on her smart phone, and even challenged me to do it as fast as she does. For her, Photoshop is already old school!

So, for this coming generations, who were born in this digital/technological environment, for them the new media and it’s new message are matter-of-fact. Looks like once again, and more than ever, we have to keep learning from our kids, and stay in touch with the ever-changing technological landscape, as we learn to embrace the new world we are crossing over.

The same applies to so many other careers and professions, from lawyers to architects, to engineers, etc., meaning, we all have to stay in learning and experimenting mode, in order to stay relevant, as the business models also keep changing, sometimes in unexpected and aggressive ways.

My question/challenge to the Visual Artists is: are you willing to explore and craft your new (or revamped) message, as a way to stay relevant in this digital world we are crossing over, full speed ahead?


About the Author: Jorge Parra is a Photographer who shoots mainly Fashion, Beauty and Portrait  for Advertising, and based in Miami, FL. He is also an Advanced Photography Instructor at the Miami Ad School.  

Jorge’s photographic work can be seen in his spanking new website,

Business Challenges for the Visual Arts in the Digital Era – part 1- The Commercial Market

Digital Nude. © Jorge Parra
As digital technologies are constantly reshaping lifestyles, industry business models, the markets and the society at large, culture is also massively influenced, and there are still so many questions to answer as to what are the new directives, what will become the actual drivers and trend setters of our future, and truly important here, the profitability factor in several fields who were truly successful in the analog world, but are not yet properly adapted to the digital changes. There are many careers which used to be a perfect niche, a shot to the floor, as a proven way to success (lawyers, architects, just to name a few), who now see their market drastically changed and profits diminished. Same thing occurs for some aspects of the Visual Arts.
We will first talk about Visual Arts, mainly photography, and it’s interaction with the business markets, and then we will talk about the world of Fine Art in the digital era.
Digital technologies have brought a true democratization of the photographic process, with both positive and negative connotations. The presence of decent cameras in almost every smart phone out there, (not to mention the ever-improving quality of affordable, pocket digital cameras) is providing the background for a market flooded with “good enough” and cheap (or free) images that are affecting the way professional photographers are perceived. Most of the times, the perception is blurred, and Pros have to clearly showcase their differentiation capabilities to prove their worth in the market.
Well known cliches, like, “everybody is a photographer now”, is helping build the most amazing collection of images of human life, the environment and everything related, but is not necessarily positive in the commerce / advertising world.
The discussion about good enough images and cameras has reached a point where the perception of the average guy is that “a great photo comes from a great camera”, rendering the creator, the photographer, a second-hand matter.
If we add to this that millions of freely available images are added on a daily basis through so many digital online channels, the concept of what is a professional photographer in this digital era, needs to be reviewed, specially when we talk about commercial / advertising photography, used by businesses to promote their products and services.
The actual bottom line is that there is no way to impose criteria on people, it is and will always be a subjective issue, a matter of perceived value, except for the fact that a true professional photographer will be able to bring to the table, not only the much needed images, but all the production values that are involved in making those images, both before and after the capture process. Agencies and clients looking for visual services must focus not only in the glitz coming from highly photoshopped images, but how the business-savvy of each artist can certainly accommodate to corporate/industry business standards, and I promise you, not every person with camera can do that!
Saving a buck here and there, by hiring the wrong (inexpensive) person, can become a disaster for your marketing efforts and eventually, for your business. The use of inexpensive, Royalty-Free or Micro-Stock images has led competing companies to use the very same image for their advertising campaigns, harming them both.
(see for example,
Photographers also have to adjust their business models and the way they interact with the markets, in order to maintain and improve their perceived worth. Current photographer trade organizations are not really up to the dynamic of the changing markets and trends, and creators need different strategies to cope with those changes. The trade groups had their relevance back in the days, but are not currently capable of influencing the directions of the markets, setting trends or even protecting the professional photographer’s interests in a tangible way.
(see for example:
I firmly believe that smaller, clearly focused groups, like the Photographer’s Collectives, are becoming a better working structure, based on the cooperative business model for true professional shooters, and the aggregation of different collectives may certainly become the replacing structure of aging trade groups.
We created the Miami Visual Collective (, a group comprised of professional advertising/commercial photographers in Miami, in an effort to add our names, and both contribute and influence to the current trends and changes in the industry. There are already a good number of such collectives in the US and Canada, and we expect more collectives appearing in the markets in the coming years. We are already exchanging ideas with Canadian collectives, and this trend will keep growing.
In Part 2 of this text, I will discuss the influence of digital technologies in the Fine Arts Markets. Stay tuned!
About the Author: Jorge Parra is the owner of Jorge Parra Photography and founder of the Miami Visual Collective. More of Jorge’s ideas can also be found in his Blog.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: “Synthetic Habitat”, Architecture, Interior Design and Lighting Design Photography by Miami Advertising photographer Jorge Parra, launches fully revamped website

©2014 Jorge Parra

MIAMI June 20th, 2014–  Miami Advertising photographer, Jorge Parra  launches a fully revamped website for his Architectural  and Interior Design Photography Projects  

Working in tandem with a creative consultant, photographer and director Jorge Parra,  edits and restructures the large amount of photos he has shot in these challenging and amazing fields, to produce a revamped website with a more conceptual approach, and much larger images, for a more pleasing experience.

Different sections of the portfolio online include, the “classical” sections of Architecture and Interior Design Photography, but Jorge’s involvement with the luxury market keeps growing,  so he decided to also include both personal work and lifestyle images,  (travel, club life, spas, yatch, ) , which would not usually be part of an architectural photographer’s portfolio, but reflects Jorge’s  cross-over vision and passion for working with people, spaces and  travel images.
Additionally, Jorge’s work in Lighting Design Photography, has proven to be one of the  most fascinating and challenging projects he has been involved in, where light is the actual subject matter, as seen through the designer’s eyes, as an added value for human comfort,  when rebuilding/refurbishing  public spaces with just light.

Jorge Parra can be contacted directly via email (,  by phone at 1-786-222-9405, and through his agency, ArchNetStudio, in the West Coast


Press Release: Jorge Parra Photography Receives 2013 Miami Award

Jorge Parra by ©
Matt Pace


Miami Award Program Honors the Achievement

MIAMI December 3, 2013 — Jorge  Parra Photography   has been selected for the 2013 Miami Award in the Photographers category by the Miami Award Program.

Each year, the Miami Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Miami area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Miami Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity.

Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Miami Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Miami Award Program

The Miami Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Miami area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Miami Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Miami Award Program

Miami Award Program

Providing Visual Support for our Returning Troops

There are many ways to provide some simple help, assistance or support to our soldiers when they return from war duty, and it can be just the moment they may need it more!

As provider of visual services to the commercial / advertising community, Jorge Parra Photography is  more than happy to offer a substancial discount (75% to 90%) to military individuals and their family groups, who may want to have a simple series of portraits taken in their own homes, after the returning soldiers have settled.

Our previous experience  of many years doing portrait shootings for kids waiting for adoption ( The Heart Gallery and The Waiting Projects), people waiting for organ transplants (Univ. of Miami Organ Donor Program) , women with breast cancer (  American Breast Cancer Foundation) or the portraits of kids with terminal illnesses( Flashes of Hope), have proven us time and again  the positive and powerful impact a good portrait can have on an individual and his/her  family / group, and this is the modest offer we can do, within our actual capabilities, to try to provide some comfort to our returning heroes.

So please, make contact with Jorge Parra, using the standard channels (listed below), and let’s plan for a few hours of family fun and some cool portraits!!.

Spread the word and help out with this initiative. Our soldiers very well deserve this, and more!!

This is NOT a Veteran’s Day special or anything like that. This is our year-long commitment to support our troops!


Jorge Parra Photography   |    7 8 6 . 2 2 2 . 9 4 0 5   



Jorge Parra’s Vision of Casual Summer Luxury

©Jorge Parra

The image for the Summer e-Promo was shot in South Beach during the rush of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, under the hot summer sun of July.

The shooting was done at the Rooftop of the “W” Hotel, with fantastic swimwear from the “LUXE COLLECTION” by Lisa Vogel, with accessories by designer Heather Hawkins.

Many thanks to Mac Cosmetics for the styling and to model Maddie Collins from Ford Models Miami




After having worked with Bravo Miami Ad Agency, the Young & Rubicam office for the hispanic market, in a campaign for the Winn Dixie brand, I was asked if I could work with them on a rush job to photograph the entire team of Creatives, Vice-Presidents and CEO of the agency, for their new website.

So, in brief, it was a  rush corporate portrait assignment, you know, one of those shootings where a simple portrait of each executive is required for corporate identity purposes. 

Fortunately, one of the Creatives of the group, Noel, was assigned in charge of the project, and when we discussed it, he told me he was expecting not only the “homework” shooting, the standard portrait image, but he wanted to further explore the personality of each of his team mates. 

When he mentioned this concept, I quickly suggested that each person be advised to bring a very personal prop, some dear personal belonging, be it a toy, a tool, a memorabilia, a doll, in short, whatever personal item(s) that truly relates to each one of them.

The standard portraits were done, and immediately we “switched” into non-standard portrait format, and that was then the fun began!
©Jorge Parra
We had both unusual and familiar items, but it all helped bringing  a true personal touch to those portraits.

It was a great opportunity for Advertising Professionals to momentarily become subjects in front of the camera. 

This usually never happens, as their natural role is meant to be right behind the cameras, either working along with photographers and directors on the production of the campaigns they handle, or running the executive decision processes happening behind the scenes.
© Jorge Parra
This rather unexpected images, will publish later on, in different company communications.

The standard portraits can be seen on their new website.



Every once in a while, I feel everyone has to stop the rush, take a couple of deep breaths, and dedicate some time to oneself, look back, and enjoy the road already traversed, and this is even more satisfying when you receive spontaneous comments from creative people in teams you have set up for specific projects.

In this regard, a testimonial can do a lot to see how are you perceived by others, and I can’t thank stylist  Nikki Peglow enough, for her kind words, after shooting a project in which she was given creative freedom like she has not had before.

May her words speak by themselves:


Awesome! Congrats on your success. I enjoyed very much reading your interview and looking at your images.  You are truly an inspiration to me, as one of the first “real” photo shoots I participated in when I arrived in Miami a couple of years ago, fresh out of Art and Design College and hair and makeup school. 

I had no idea you were such an accomplished photographer at that time or else I would have been even more extremely nervous!! 

I remember the kindness and graciousness you treated me with, no ego or attitude, and you let everyone have equal creative input. This was especially exciting to me at that point in my career, when I was just used to following orders. 

How ecstatic I was when I had the opportunity to style the models hair with the leaves at my own creative will, after completing the makeup!!

 Also, my first shoot doing “natural” beauty makeup, which is by far harder than an elaborate makeup! It inspired me on a continuing quest to master the technique of minimalist makeup in the glamorous over the top sea of Miami Beach. It is truly far greater of a challenge to develop a slight hand.  

Please send the photos I participated in as makeup/hair which are featured in your Fine Art Showcase Gallery 1 (Flower Beauty). I would like to include the images in my makeup portfolio as I am creating a new website.  

Thank you!   xoxox, Nicole “Nikki” Peglow makeup/hair/art/design
NOTE: some of the images of this project are available on my Fine Art Photography website:



Next week, on both Tuesday May 21st and Wednesday 22nd, from 9am till 5 PM, my NY Rep Frank Meo, aka “The Photocloser”, will be running a special event at Picture Ray Studio in Chelsea, gathering NY Creatives, Art Directors, Art Buyers and Graphic Designers, to explore the portfolios of the photographers Frank is currently representing, under the Photocloser Brand.
It is going to be a very cool moment to check my current PRINT portfolios, which will be  available on display on those days, so I strongly encourage you to take the time and visit the Showcase.
 There will be food, drinks and snacks for all attendants, and on top of it, there will be a raffle of 2 iPads just as well!!
I have prepared promotional give-away marketing materials, ( mini-books)  which will also be available at the table, along with my large scale portfolio books, so feel free to take a sample with you.
More details below:
The PhotoCloser PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE @ Picture Ray Studio Tues & Wed, May 21st & 22nd, 2013
PLEASE NOTE: This 2-day portfolio viewing event is for REVIEWERS ONLY!  Reviewers, you can come and go when you please to look at the books during either Tuesday, May 21st and/or Wednesday, May 22nd at Picture Ray Studio, have a bite to eat, and chat with whoever else is there. For more information, contact Frank Meo, at
Address: 245 West, 18th St. Ground Floor. Ph: 212-929-637
I really wish you visit the studio and take a look at my work there!

Select-Magazine Architecture/Interiors International Showcase

It’s been a great week for marketing our brand.

 With a fantastic and welcome double feature, Jorge Parra Photography’s work is presented in the British Select Magazine’s  Architecture/interiors International Showcase and also as the Image of the Week in Selects’s Home Page.

You can see the entire Showcase in the following link: