Not long ago, I got my USA citizen status. During the preparation process for the citizenship exam, I had to learn basics of US history, but I got so fascinated by so many different events and personalities involved in the creation of this amazing country, that I went really deeper into learning more about the founding fathers, the wars, the celebrations and the people, the pioneers, who threw away the life they had, and chose to come to the newfound lands, to experiment whatever this new life will bring them, the expected and the unexpected, probably much more of the latter!
I reviewed several historical documents and images, and I found this amazing painting by french painter Jean Louis Gerome Ferris, (1863-1920), who happened to be in and around many of the events related to the creation of this great nation.
The painting in question, which grabbed my attention and stunned me more than anything else, was the depiction of the First Thanksgiving Partyever celebrated in the not yet founded USA, in 1621! A true feast of sharing abundance and coexistence and friendship between the very first pilgrims and the native american indians, (who actually introduced the Cranberries, native american fruit, to the pilgrims).
This painting evokes in me the basis on which all relationships must be built, trust, joy in sharing and above all, tolerance to understand others and live in acceptance and harmony.
These basic attitudes must remain in time for any group, company or nation to survive in a healthy, productive and beneficial, reciprocal manner.
I have already experienced what happens when these values are removed from our everyday behavior; that is EXACTLY why I knew I had to emigrate, abandon my country of origin for good, and not look back.
Now that I am in the US, and came to stay, I have this brief message to everyone:
May the first Thanksgiving party ever celebrated in the US reminds us FOR REAL to share with joy and remove the intolerance towards others.
Nothing good is born out of intolerance, selfishness and greed.
Several good things comes out of trusting, sharing, cooperating, accepting others and pushing to live and love in harmony.
Happy (true) ThanksGiving to all!
About the Author:
Jorge Parra is a Fashion, Beauty and Portrait Photographer based in Miami. You can see some Jorge’s work in his spanking new website at
The text below is a very personal testimonial, written by Adenike Akinbisehin, one of my best students from the Miami Ad School Advanced Photography classes.
I can’t be happier to receive such cool feedback, as education is something I do not do on a regular basis, and, as an active Advertising/Commercial Photographer, my educational methods are less than conventional, as I put to use my own personal vision into it, taking my students to do assistant work in some of my shootings, not sending them standard homework/assignments, but rather encouraging students to develop their own portfolios with visual work that is worthwhile for their future, taking them off the classroom more than expected, always pushing them beyond their comfort zones, and this lack of convention is sometimes criticized by a few, mostly those who just want to do some homework, get a decent grade in all classes and graduate.
Today, becoming a photographer, a visual artist in general, requires TONS of effort, all guided by an innate passion, a drive that makes people go the extra mile day after day. Once any of us start going up the ladder of success, we will be meeting- and competing- with super stars that are already at the top of their careers, so it just takes a simple look at their work today, to know what level of work we need to produce to become really competitive!! Adenike is one of those students who will grow big time, and I know for sure she will be a great photographer pretty soon!
The Dalai Lama said something amazing about Education, here’s his quote:
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
I know for a fact that my mentor, long ago deceased master photographer Julio Vengoechea, somehow is still alive through me, as his teachings are still influencing what I do today. So, here’s what I have to tell Adenike about this: You have made me take a glimpse at immortality, and that is a tremendous gift to receive!
Well, these are her words, and I can’t thank her enough!
Adenike Akinbisehin wrote:
“I am fortunate. Fortunate to know an exuberant and inspiring artist and gentleman. This man also happens to be a genius when it comes to photography. Better yet, he’s one of my favourite instructors.
Today, the delightful Jorge Parra shared a personal and humbling story about his move to the United States with his beloved family, with nothing but 5 suitcases. He spoke of challenges and inner dialogues he had to leave behind, and I identified very much with his story. As time would have it, it has been a decade today.”
“Thank you for the endless support and encouragement. For your time, resourcefulness, patience, radical honesty, and kindness. Thank you for your sense of humour. For your words of wisdom. Thank you for helping me in more ways than you could imagine, overcome some of the deepest fears and insecurities I have.
Thanks for confirming the virtues that come with traversing scary emotional terrain. To reciprocate your openness, I decided to share this article I wrote, with you.”
“Jorge, it is with great pride that I call myself your student, and it is with deep joy that I call you a mentor and a friend. Thanks for summoning up the courage and making that shift a decade ago. I for one, am more than glad you did.”
After my number one passion and obsession, which is Photography and Imaging in general, I love talking!
I always recall a phrase from one of the most creative and prolific writers from the 19th century, super well known poet Novalis, (check his amazing “Hymns to the Night”) repeating over and over something like: “The very best of my creations comes from conversation” and that is something I totally agree on!!
To this end, and even though the video monologue format is not totally open, I decided to record myself and talk about the diverse aspects of my work as Photographer and Director , so this brief piece about Beauty Photography,
is just the start of a series of Conversations, as to give you some pointers about myself and why I love what I love, what drives me and tickles me, and you can get to know more about me, let’s say, in a more personal, conversational way.
I hope you liked these brief clip, and if you really enjoyed it, and would still like to hear more, feel free to quickly jump to my “Conversations” link, where you will find brief clips to my talks on Fashion Photography, Advertising/Commercial Photography, Fine Art Photography and Portrait Photography, and ideally, contact me, so we can start an IRL (in real life) dialogue.
Miami-based Photographer and Director Jorge Parra has just announced the launch of a totally new website, using responsive design, for his extensive portfolio of images, right there, in his well known domain
In addition of the “classic” sections for still photography, like Fashion, Beauty, Portraits, Leisure and Luxury plus Fine Art Photography, a new a cool section of Essays, the new site has the versatility Jorge’s work and personality demand, as visitors will keep finding new galleries and sections, works in progress, popping out, as times passes by.
As indicated, the site has been launched with Still Photography at it’s core, but Jorge is already editing and refining works for the upcoming Motion section, to include BTS videos, Music and Fashion clips, Testimonials, Time Lapse, Gif Animations and other experiments with images in motion.
Also, a cool new section of Instant Art, an ongoing and ever-changing portfolio ofAlso Shot on iPhone 6 Photography, fully shot and edited in Jorge’s cell phones, with the aid of different editing apps, will showcase Jorge’s curiosity for the abstract and the mundane, keeping his street photography portfolio alive, while transforming some of the images into instantaneous artwork, in almost real time.
The Essays section, where you can read Jorge’s point of view on critical and contemporary issues related to the visual arts as well as tidbits of images and brief news, works in progress and updates on several matters.
Links to Contact Jorge either directly ( phone / email) or via his Social Media Channels are also available, so, if you don’t find Jorge, you are not looking for him!.
This is an adaptive design website with responsive media, which works flawlessly in just every full screen size, from smart phones to tablets, to laptops, to Retina Displays, thus allowing about the best way to showcase Jorge’s visual art in the most effective and pleasing way.
Visit Jorge Parra’s website right now,and stay tuned for constant additions of content, both stills and motion plus essays, works in progress and unexpected content, just as Jorge’s explorations in creativity flow around. Share with your friends and colleagues the images you enjoy the most in your own social media channels and come back soon for more!!
I had previously posted a whole set of tips and suggestions on how to successfully use Linkedin as a professional networking channel, taking advantage of the fact, that, contrary to FaceBook and other channels, Linkedin gathers a huge percentage of professionals from all areas and fields of human performance. This characteristic makes Linkedin a potentially useful platform to build up new business relationships and strategic alliances, which can help on the profitability of your own business.
Thing is,Success is, from my point of view, more of a process than a goal. It can be easily proven that, once a goal is achieved, in any aspect of our lives, the mind already has yet another new goal to achieve, and on and on, indefinitely, so it makes sense to focus more on the process to achieve success than in the goals themselves. Improving the process will facilitate achieving new goals.
The well known formula: [Garbage In = Garbage Out] applies wonderfully to Linkedin and every other platform and channel you intend to use for marketing and promotional purposes.
Basically, if you do not commit to provide useful, appealing content, a well groomed profile and stay active on the process of updating all your info on Linkedin, and participate in Groups, you can not expect better results than the ones you have today. Too many Photographers believe that they just need to create a profile, as brief as possible, and sit and wait for a torrential rain of new clients and projects to pour on them. Then the complaints about Linkedin not being useful as an instant cash cow pop out in every forum.
I can not emphasize enough how critical it is to prepare a very effective Profile about yourself in Linkedin. Almost everything is relevant!! From your education to the causes and organizations you donate time and resources to, to the historical career path which has led you to who and how and where you are today, everything counts, if posted properly.
Just recently, the Linkedin Blog published the 10 words people OVERUSE the most in Linkedin in their Profiles, and therefore, have been rendered technically useless for self-promotion, specially if you want to differentiate yourself properly, so your Linkedin Profile should avoid the following:
Ten most overused Profile buzzwords:
• Extensive experience
• Track record
Sounds familiar?? How many of these are right now in your Profile?
To make this brief, consider this: if by any chance you actually are NOT motivated passionate, creative, responsible, etc,etc, then you are not a good profesional anyways, and again, if you are all of the above, a cool Pro, make no mistake: every other Pro who is your actual competition, claims to be exactly the same cool Pro!
So, use your motivation, passion, creativity and experience to build up a better profile, avoiding most of the words above!!!
The matter of connecting with potential clients stays the same: One of the most useful decisions is joining Linkedin Groups, BUT, do not join a dozen of photographer’s groups, since basically none of them will need your services!! Of course, it makes sense to be in touch with the photographer’s community, so being in a couple of those groups is healthy to stay in touch with changes in the industry, etc, so, do not discard all of those, but know in advance those do not offer lots of marketing opportunities. For the same reason, Retouchers, Educators, Assistants, Coaches and Consultants need to be in photographer’s groups, since they can become their clients.
Think exactly in the same way, to decide what groups you should consider joining. You have to be in places where your potential clients also roam. If you are interested in architectural clients, join architect’s groups, same for Corporate, same for Fashion, same for Advertising etc,etc.
Participation in those groups will streamline the process of connecting with people who might become your future clients or strategic allies. It is also important to note that potential clients, prospects, may not necessarily react instantly to your profile and activity.They may bookmark your profile and will check it out for changes/updates in time, and might consider you for a project later on, when their need for your type of work arises. Months may pass by before this happens. Be patient!!
This is solid proof that success in Linkedin is a process, as you can not measure your success by what you have already achieved, but for what is coming ahead.
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 http://linkd.in/12i2K0Z), 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.
A good part of his photographic work can be seen in his recently updated website,
We are living the interesting yet critical transition period during which most of the analog world is crumbling, and giving up way to an entire paradigm, where digital technologies are replacing the old ways, new rules are redefining many concepts in most industries and markets, changing education, culture, the arts (pls, check our previous posts in this matter).
One interesting case in point is how the definitions of what used to be a “Specialized”Professional Photographer, as opposed to the classic “Generalist” shooter, this guy who used to be the “Jack of all Trades”, have changed in time.
Most photographers who have dealt mostly with Advertising projects have traditionally been more successful when they were truly specialized shooters. Either still Life, or landscape, or architectural, or People/Lifestyle,etc, with a known style have been (and some still are) picked more frequently for large scale productions. “Being in the top of their game” has been a requirement for hiring shooters for national , international and global campaigns.
That is not the case at all times anymore. Photographers who have worked specialized in just one area of expertise are now doing this “cross-over” to often unrelated fields, and success has not left them behind. Add to that that motion works, video and cinematography are now part of the skills required by many demanding jobs, and here you have, an old concept has totally changed:
Traditionally, the Generalist was the guy who would do (or at least try) to do it all, commercial assignments, weddings on the weekends, family portraits, catalogs, etc,etc, and in most cases, this traditional “Jack of all Trades”was barely capable of producing, mediocre work, and, at best just “good enough” images. Think of it as the TV spot about the couple taking their car to the repair shop, and finding out the mechanic in charge happens to be also their tax accountant… Of course, no one wants that!!
Now, digital technology, in combo with the human curiosity and creativity, opens up a new vision and understanding of what a “Diversified”, Cross-over photographer is and can do, and by all means, is NOT a Generalist no more.
Adding Photoshop and illustration skills (not just retouching), in combo with CGI implementation, (even via team collaboration), the ability to direct people and even inanimate objects in motion sequences, TV commercials, music clips, etc, plus the ability to go from studio to locations, from outdoors to indoors, from natural to artificial lighting, from people to objects, in a seamless manner, makes them a new type of shooter.
In short, the classic definition of a Generalist is merely a concept of the past.
The Diversified, Cross-over visual artist is a new kind of creator, full of passion , know-how and sharp as the traditional Specialists, with all the skill sets required for highly demanding jobs, and yet capable to jump from Advertising to Editorial, from Fashion to Landscape, from Portraits to Still Life, and produce outstanding results.
It is important to mention that this is NOT easy to achieve: There is a quite long learning curve for the Diversified shooter, given the demands imposed from the specialty crossover process. New still image processing software, new video/motion equipment in the market, editing software, post-processing understanding and capabilities, plus several production capabilities need to be learned, mastered and performed impeccably in order to be really successful in this new world.
Two relevant examples of the “cross over” photographers, visual artists with with no apparent photographic specialty can be seen in the work of two fantastic shooters:
Other successful examples are easy to find online.
One interesting personal observation in this regard, is my personal experience with Advertising Photography: most of the times shooters are called for his/her strong vision on a field, BUT, on some occasions, they are hired (by interesting and challenging creatives or clients) to shoot some project outside their “comfort zone”, and this helps building up a body of work of seemingly unrelated areas, all just unified trough the photographer’s particular vision.
Same thing can happen with editorial work: you can be shooting fashion this week, and next you may be shooting corporate portraits, and next you can be directing a video.
Resolving the production values required to put together such different kind of projects through his/her vision, is what helps the photographer develop the skill sets necessary to perform the cross-over successfully, something the “classical” specialist may not be trained to do.
In conclusion: I feel it is time to say goodbye to the term and related poor reputation of the“Generalist”, and embrace the new, “Diversified Photographer”, the successful Cross-over shooter, one qualified and able to do specialized, high end work in different fields. The changes in meaning and scope may also apply to other creative careers indeed.
About the author: Jorge Parra is an Advertising, Fashion and Fine Art photographer, well known for his ability to work and direct people, and upon the request of clients and creatives, he has diversified his portfolio into other areas, like Architecture/ Interior Design Photography, gaining clients from the Leisure and Luxury markets in the process. All about Jorge can be found in his Visual Hub (www.TheVisualHub.com)
During the last 8 years, Advertising Photographer Jorge Parra has been working on a series of photographic projects in Architecture and Interior Design, mostly focused on the Leisure and Luxury markets, shooting Hotels, Spas, Restaurants, as well as private residences and vacation villas. Jorge is well known as a People Photographer, shooting Advertising, Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Photography for over 2 decades. However, a number of Creative Directors as well as Architects and Designers who recognize and value Jorge’s vision, have been pushing him out of his comfort zone, by inviting him to shoot architectural and interior design projects. The logic behind these requests was the interest of these creatives in exploring different approaches to producing and photographing these projects from a fresh perspective. In addition to these challenges, Jorge has been traveling around the world, shooting some large-scale fantastic Lighting Design Projects for public spaces in distant cities like Ankara in Turkey, Dublin in Ireland and Madrid, Spain. New projects are being produced in the USA and will be showcased in the near future. Lighting Design Photography is an area where only a few photographers have been successfully involved.
The resulting body of work includes visuals for Conde Nast Traveler, Luxe Magazine, Hilton Hotels, SLS Hotels, Mandarin Hotels, Ritz Carlton Hotels, plus several travel and luxury commercial and private residential projects, plus the cool lighting design projects.
The next natural phase for The Synthetic Habitat Project involves a fine blend of Fashion and Architecture, both Stills and Motion, putting together all of Jorge’s skills, in an ongoing series of images to be published in the near future.
We talked in Part 1 about the major challenges most professional photographers have to deal in commercial/advertising markets due to the democratization process introduced by digital technologies, as cliches and new standards. like “good enough images” or “Your camera takes great pictures” have affected the perception of what a REAL professional photographer brings to the table for the execution of a project.
The Fine Art market has also been shaken in both directions, for the benefit of it, but also to absorbe certain negative aspects that are reshaping the way collectible visual art is perceived.
One one end, Photography has got another setback. Back in the analog – film- era, it was relatively easy to point out how many original prints were done from each negative. There was a lot of art, technique, craftsmanship and commitment for an artist to be able to identically reproduce a few ( limited number) of prints, and offer them for sale as a Limited Edition Series. A scarcity criteria will just pump the prices up as the availability of less prints in the market would command for a higher price tag to acquire one such work. Much certainly, serious Art Collectors look ONLY for this kind of work to invest in, and the smaller the number of originals in a series, the better.
Now, when discussing modern photography, digital technologies allow for endless reproduction of copies that look and feel exactly like the original,basically, you can provide an infinite set of originals, and then the scarcity criteria gets removed from such work, and it becomes an inexpensive commodity, sometimes termed Wall Art.
It is up to the artists to be able to generate a scarcity criteria, not only by limiting the number of original prints, but also by means of interacting more in-depth with the media, mixing techniques from different crafts,etc,etc, as to be able to provide try few true originals to the market.
There is also a number of ethical and moral issues involved here, since the “sudden” presence of a new series of images from an originally closed series, printed at a different size or using another substrate, has been used as an excuse to keep profiting, while theoretically bringing down the value of the first, “original” series. See for example the case for photographer W. Eggleston, sued by a collector of his work:
Many things can be said about the actual loss of value – or not- of the original Limited Edition Series”, which turned out to be” not-so-limited”, but one thing is certain: this situation is a by-product of digital technologies redrawing the art scene.
Painting, in it’s classical definition, has not seen the same abundance of copycats, as it takes a real artist to generate a copy of some artwork which could be truly thought to be an original, and even at that, there are numerous expert museum and gallery curators, who are usually consulted when a “new” painting from a classic artist emerges in the market.
With artists like Vermeer, who painted such few original pieces, you can easily tell which works are his and which could be just a fake.
That said, a new market for art reproduction of original artwork has emerged (more wall art), as thousands of digital prints from one original painting can be sold for a few dollars.
In general, the process of transforming once-original artwork, with limited originals, into a commodity, with potentially endless copies, and how to deal with it, is still a matter of discussion in art circles, schools and museums.
The situation gets even more complicated with digitally generated art, something that has been created not in the real world, but in the world of vectors, pixels and software (read about CGI, for dramatic examples), or a mixture of analog and digital, work plus the exponential growth of Motion Works. And it still gets even worse in the universe of social media sharing, plus all digital distribution channels, those that exist now, and those that are yet to be created!
In conclusion: I have the clear sensation that we are living the “transition-to-digital period”, where many things are yet to be re-defined, and this process will provide the changes in attitudes and concepts that are necessary to design a new business model for the Visual Arts, both for Commercial Work and also for the Fine Arts.
Digital Technologies are barely entering our lives and the more, massive invasion is yet to come (look for “The Internet of Everything“), so, as it has usually been the case with disrupting technologies and trends, we still don’t know where we are going, but it will certainly be a challenging process, full of new experiences, where creativity will be, as always, the key to the solutions.