Your Guide to Photography in the Metaverse
Conversation with Jeff Excell
Fellowship has released a large, 135-piece collection from Magnum photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti. The collection combines two inter-related projects that follow the lives of two cousins, Guille and Belinda, in rural Argentina. Shot over two decades, the photographs follow these two girls from adolescence into adulthood while charting the relationship between them.
Greg Miller - County Fair
On March 10th, Greg Miller released his widely-renowned series of portraits, County Fair, via Quantum. Miller is known for his use of large format, 8x10 view camera to create highly detailed portraits of strangers whom he asks to pose for on-the-spot tableaux narratives. The Nashville-born photographer is a former Guggenheim Fellow, and has exhibited his work widely in galleries and museums. He has photographed for TIME, Fact Company, Esquire, and many other high-profile editorial publications
Imag3Aid, is expected to debut its website in the week ahead and share the names of the photographers contributing to its fundraiser. The initiative aims to bring all the NFT photography communities together in a collaborative effort to raise funds to provide humanitarian aid to Ukranians via a blind mint. The group is seeking more volunteers to help with organizing and marketing it’s effort, and invites any who are interested in contributing to reach out via Twitter.
RawDAO also has recently created a website to showcase its collection
KGP NFT is gearing up to release the first ever NFT photobook, a title by one of its founders, Marshall Scheuttle titled Morningstar. The platform currently is offering presale access to the publication via an online form. Earlier this year, they released a teaser, and we’ll be eager to see how the project takes shape as a connective tissue between NFT and photobook communities.
Fellowship has released a 1/1 photograph by legendary photographer Stephen Shore from his 2015 photobook, Survivors in Ukraine, a series that documents the country’s Holocost survivors. Shore, who descended from Ukrainian ancestry, is donating 100% of the proceeds of the sale to the United Nations Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.
Obscura is preparing to launch an ambitious 10k photo collection titled The World Today, made up of the work of 138 photographers from around the world. The collection is framed as an homage to the 20th century MoMA exhibition The Family of Man, and presents a “visual timestamp of the 21st century.”
The collection will drop on March 16th, and proceeds of the sale will be given to each of the participating photographers to complete a new project within 4 weeks. The platform is currently allowing collectors to register for the drop via Premint, and has recently created a tweet thread sharing all participating photographers.
Art3 announced a greenlist opportunity for it’s upcoming collection, JAPES (James and Other Apes), with a deadline of March 20th to enter into a drawing for the first opportunity to mint one of the collection’s 50 images.
Collector’s Corner: Conversation with Jeff Excell
This week we had a great conversation with high-profile NFT photo collector Jeff Excell, who lent insight into his collecting practices in addition to advice for photographers and fellow members of the NFT community. Have a read, then check out his very impressive photo collection in full.
This interview is the first of a series of conversations with NFT photo collectors that aim to dig deeply into collecting practices and seek insights from the most influential figures in the Web3 photo community.
PhotoVerso: So we of course should start with this question: Can you give us your NFT origin story, and talk about how you decided to get involved with collecting?
Jeff Excell: Okay so I was resistant at first. I was a crypto enthousiast. I put all of my money into LINK and ETH and was just so excited about DEFI.. this was coming off of defi summer. I always kinda catch the downsides of things.
That was Oct. 11 2020. I watched NFT peripherally for…. Months (sadly) before buying a BAYC in late July. Watched it go to 60 and back to 40 before selling for a tidy profit and of course this was one of my first nfts so I was addicted. The first time I connected with NFTs was when I found World of Women. I dove in head first about 8 days after mint and collected as many as I could. So yeah I rode the PFP ride for about… 3 months, was pretty happy with the results and was listening to a podcast with some heavy hitter who suggested that NFT photography was next.
He recommended Julie Pacino and Chi Modu. I immediately went out and grabbed both. The response that I got from buying Julie’s piece was swift and loud. A massive swath of people came out just to congratulate and celebrate, which kinda felt crazy to me. No one did this when I bought pfps. So yeah, I don’t know, I kinda fell in love with the scene and all the people in it. I started collecting amazing photographs for like….. Peanuts. I grabbed several mints from Quantum starting with the amazing Joey L. and I was gone after that. I just wanted more… Here I am, having to slow myself down intentionally because I was spending too much money. It is really hard not to just throw all my money at it. But yeah… I love the community. It’s crazy.
PV: How many pieces do you have in your photography collection now?
JE: I am closing in on 200 pieces. I think I have 155 in the gallery. Some are not there. But that is mainly because I don’t have a matching image for it.
PV: As you look back on the pieces you’ve acquired so far, do you see a theme emerging in terms of subject matter or artistic voices that you are drawn to?
JE: I am drawn to humans in a photo. I am drawn to emotions and feelings. I want to see inside someone’s soul. Sometimes I can do that with portraits or street shots. Sometimes with landscape or nature I can see inside my own soul.
I don’t want hollow photography, it has to mean something….. To me.
PV: Do you have a particular strategy when it comes to acquiring new pieces? And are there red flags that you look for when considering new artists?
Now that I have kinda restricted my funds a bit, I have some rules:
1. I have to be IN LOVE with the piece.
2. I have to have enough ETH to buy two (unless its special)
3. The piece has to give me a feeling.
4. Mostly, I want to collect pieces that are important. That is harder now, but… they have to mean something either to the world or to me.
5. No rude people. Seriously, if you're rude to me or someone I know I’m not collecting, I just can’t. NFT photography is special and we just don’t need any rude people here.
Advice to photographers:
There is too much hand wringing about what is the “correct way” to do a collection…. Just drop it…
The market will tell you what it thinks about your photography. Not saying that everything the market buys is good, but I am saying that it means something to someone. So finding that connection is important.
Just be real with yourself and ask yourself if you need to tokenize your photography. If you think the market wants it then you have a decent shot of selling. I have a lot of photography that I know for a fact doesn’t belong on the blockchain.
PV: With so many new artists coming into the ecosystem, I think that collectors often need to look for reasons NOT to buy a particular work. Can you talk about some things that might turn you off to buying a piece that otherwise might speak to you?
JE: Yes I am starting to think this way. I am looking for any reason not to collect. I already have a major backlog of photos that I really think are necessary for me to collect so it is hard for me to pull the trigger on anything that is in anyway sub par.
I guess easy to fix “own-goals” are:
Not putting things into collections, but also not putting photos into 1/1s
Minting two versions of the same photo in one collection. This is so weird to me. It happens even in very good photographers.. I think people fall in love with a photo and just want to have two in there.
If I don’t see growth from collection to collection then it is hard for me to be convinced that the photographer in question is going to succeed long term. I want to see growth and a stretching of legs in their work.
If you are an established photographer I can see that overconfidence is something to be scared of. I actually have been super impressed with what Justin Aversano is doing… that dude could have rested on his laurels…. But he really upped the game with the new collection, the Physical Tarot Cards.
For smaller photogs coming into the nft photo world and over pricing is an easy way to lose steam fast.
For Super established photogs outside of nft photography, I think over confidence and thinking that since they are established they don’t have to go through the hoops that everyone else did. That is a mistake.
PV: The market for photography is still in the process of maturing in this space. Do you have a long-term vision for your collection? How do you potentially envision it 2, 5, 10 years from now?
JE: I gotta be honest.. At the moment I have pretty much stopped collecting for a beat. Sadly I am behind on some bills and I have to catch up and it has been a hard month for me to not feel like I am part of the community anymore. I collect where I can, I grab what I can on discount or some hidden artist but it is hard for me to drop an ETH on a photo these days. I will hopefully get back to it soon. But as you know in NFT photography a month is a year so I feel like I have really really missed some great work this last month.
Long term.. I can see the collection slowly growing. I have recently decided that I am pretty much not going to make any money off of this collection ever. So everything that I put in is sunk costs. Not because I don’t believe in it, but I am not sure that there is a bigger whale who will want my specific work and that cannot just buy off the floor anyways because collections are not selling out…. Just saying what I am seeing ATM so don’t shoot the messenger. Maybe 5 years down the line when they look back and try to find a historical collection mine will shine through. But I just think that the NFT photography landscape will continue to grow a bit then constrict, then grow then constrict. More will come in and we will lose some, then rinse and repeat. I think the whole NFT scene might get a smack in the head this year. But maybe that is just me being a little bearish, I get this way when I am getting my butt kicked.
In the end I just want to learn stuff and feel feelings. If NFT photography ever starts to disappoint me in those two areas I might not be as present. But so far it has not. I just always want to learn something new, and feel some feelings I have not felt before. So far this has been a great space to do it in.
PV: Any parting thoughts for the NFT community?
JE: I hate to be this guy…. But plan for taxes. This is the main reason I have had to stop collecting as much recently. I’m gonna get murdered by taxes and I didn’t plan for it.
Other than that, I would recommend what I always recommend. We are all in this place building a city together, sometimes you are building your house, sometimes you are building a public park, sometimes you are building some building you are going to sell off. Either way, if you are not building then you are not a part of this. If you are coming in to sell your wares and leave the city… then honestly just stay home. If you cannot be bothered to pitch in and help, to build things for others, to help people build their things, then don’t show up. This thing we are building together, is a group effort, we can make it whatever we want, but we all should be contributing in some way. The good part is that you can plant your best ideas anywhere and if you work hard enough they might grow into something beautiful. So pitch in.