Building An NFT For The Photography Community With Peter Hurley
NFTs are fast becoming an ubiquitous part of the digital economy. Once largely a digital art medium, NFTs are starting to encompass other art forms as well. Monika Proffitt takes a look at Shabangrs, an NFT that is focused on the photography community with some help from co-founder Peter Hurley. Peter takes us on a guided tour of the impetus that brought the project about, where the project is going, and why Peter thinks NFTs are great for photographers. Tune in to learn more about this revolutionary NFT project right here on The New Trust Economy.
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Building An NFT For The Photography Community With Peter Hurley
I’m here with Peter Hurley. He is the Cofounder of Shabangrs, a cool new NFT project. You might be the first NFT project we have had on the show. Welcome, Peter. Thank you so much for joining us.
I’m the first. That’s so cool. Thanks for having me. I will take it.
We were catching up before this. You were giving me a little background, which is always like, “It’s a little bit here and there.” I never ask for too much background because I don’t want it to be not real-time and impromptu. If you are going to tell a story twice the second time, you usually don’t tell it as well. It sounds stuffier or more rehearsed. How much do you feel like you know about NFTs? How long have you been dealing in the NFT world? You are a photographer and now you are a photographer NFT person. What does that mean to you? How long have you been doing it?
It means a lot to me because I’m on the precipice of this thing. I haven’t been doing it long. I have a team behind me. My other cofounder Vadim came to me. We had worked together previously. I’m a portrait photographer in New York. I have a community called the Headshot Crew and he is one of my photographers. He came to me and said, “I have been studying this NFT forever. We need to do a photography-inspired collection. I’m going to find an artist. We are going to do something cool.” I had been hearing this NFT and starting to say, “Non-fungible token, what does this mean?”
I started to go down the path of trying to learn as much as I could about them. It coincided. You start to see something and then it’s everywhere. It was one of those things. He spoke about it and I was like, “I had heard about it all week. You are telling me this and you want me to get involved. Done.” He was looking at it as a couple of things. We have a relationship. We have worked together before. He was putting a team together that has been incredible that I didn’t have the ability to put together. It was great to team up with him, but I have a community behind me.Shabangrs is the first community-driven collectible that's photo industry related for creatives and filmmakers. Click To Tweet
Nobody had taken the photo industry into the NFT space yet as a collection. It’s one of the best things that ever happened for photographers. Can you imagine you get a residual on selling an NFT as a photographer that you never had before that’s 10% or whatever attached to it? It’s phenomenal for an artist. That’s a whole other conversation. My goal was to get photographers acclimated to the space as I am. I’m learning as I go and enjoying every minute of it. When we dropped the collection, there was some excitement in putting it all together.
We should have jumped on this even sooner. I wish we did, but we are good. Our timing was great. Right in the middle of us dropping everything, Facebook went to Meta. I was like, “This is amazing because I had never heard the word metaverse and now I’m creating one. This is unbelievable.” It’s excitement for me and an extension of my brand in a way. It’s bringing photographers and creators into something cool. Everybody loves the artwork. That was the driver behind this for me.
That’s the key part. You can’t just put out crappy who-knows-what images. If it works, it works, but it seems a little gimmicky. I have a long history in the arts. I was a practicing artist and arts administrator for many years before I went down the only entrepreneurial path and said, “Art brain, I will be back in 5 to 10 years. I’m going to stop being a starving artist. It’s either I will come back and will still be starving, no harm, no foul, or we won’t and we can go back to what we were doing. How about that?”
Our brain is like, “When are you coming back?” It’s like the child has been left off at the grocery store and I’m hoping that foster care is being good to it, “We will catch up when you are eighteen.” You wish you would have done this sooner. Being early looks a lot like being wrong. Your timing is perfect. When did you launch this?
My brain is mushed with how busy we have been. I don’t know our exact drop day. I don’t remember it. My schedule is crazy. Going into the holidays and everything was nuts.
Was it before or after Halloween? Do you remember that?
I believe it was after Halloween. We had a presale going on maybe around Halloween. I should know this stuff. I’m a busy human. I have a bunch of different things going on. This is another thing that’s taking up a lot of my time, which I’m enjoying.
You are the pretty face and mouthpiece of this organization. You have got a bunch of these tech guys as a team behind you doing the stuff. You have got the nerds nerding out and saying, “We got it ready.” You are like, “I will tell people then.” I know those structures well. I have been that person in those structures.
We have a bunch of Telegram stuff going on. We are global. The actual artist, Sergey, is in Ukraine. He did all the work to get these things going, which I thought was amazing. I’m so crazy about them. We have got a whole development team in Russia. They are speaking Russian on our Telegram. There are all these talks that I don’t even know about, but I’m on the thread. I was like, “This is crazy. Let them be all that stuff. Let me figure out my end of it, be the face of it and help bring awareness to it.” That’s what we are doing. We are bringing awareness to a cool community that we are building.
Speaking of the community that you are building, one of the things that you mentioned was this added utility. It’s not just, “If you think this is pretty, you should buy it. When you buy or sell it, the artist keeps getting a piece of it. Look at that. It’s pretty cool. It’s only right, but there we go.” In addition, it sounds like you have plugged in some other inherent value here, which is interesting to me from a pure NFT perspective. My pure technical brain is like, “Interesting cause of reviews case.” Can you tell me a little bit about the metaverse that you are foraying into?
Each Shabangrs that’s purchased gets a plot in our metaverse that we are building. We had a press conference and announced it. We are going to give them a little plot where they can have an actual gallery. They could put their Shabangrs on the wall and build it out. They could put their own artwork on the wall. We have got different utilities. They can have different things in the town and be the mayor. It’s called Shabangrsville.
We are creating a currency called the Shabuck. They will be able to use Shabucks in Shabangrsville. It’s all so crazy and out of this world to me. I have twins. They might understand all this stuff. They came to me and were like, “Dad, our friends are telling us about your NFT.” I was like, “Your friends know what is going on here?” All I care about is that my kids think I’m cool.
Good luck with that. They have made it through their teenage years and they still think you are cool. That’s almost like solving world hunger. How do you do that?
With Roblox, Minecraft and the upcoming generation being used to these, my generation is saying, “What the heck is a meta?” I’m getting calls from companies that are in the photography space saying, “What are you up to?” I’m like, “I’m so glad you reached out.” It’s cool. The awareness is going up. Brands are starting to say, “We have got to look at this.”
I was in a meeting where this woman came in and she said her friends had gotten a job with an NFT. She is working in a company on their NFT project and has a whole team underneath her already of all of this. This is a huge thing that people need. The more and more times you hear NFT, people are going to be curious and find out what it is.
As far as I know, we are the first community-driven collectible that’s photo-industry-related for creatives and filmmakers. We are excited about it. The little guys have these little cameras on their heads. The collectible end of it is cool with the utility that we have attached to it. I run the Headshot Crew, which is my coaching platform and referral engine for headshot specialists globally. We have got 20,000 members in it. I coach about 1,500 in my coaching program.
I had Shabucks in there for the past couple of years. I didn’t even realize that I was going to be able to take those Shabucks that people have been collecting and put them into the metaverse. That’s what we are doing. That’s number one. Number two, I do workshops all over the globe. When we dropped, I said, “If you own three Shabangrs and you are one of the first three people who ask, I’m going to invite you to one of my workshops.”Shabangrs is trying to get photographers to become aware that NFTs are another source of income for them. Click To Tweet
I have a studio in Burbank. I did a workshop there. Three people who had their own Shabangrs were invited. They came and loved it. It was amazing. We are attaching different utilities like that to it. The sponsors that I work with are also helping us out. I designed a lighting setup. I’m big into a lot of different things. My gear is very important to me. I’m a Canon Explorers of Light. I use all Canon gear.
For my lighting, I work with Wescott. I designed the lighting for a photo and video called the Peter Hurley Syndicate. A syndicate was attached to one of the Shabangrs as well. It’s a $5,500 studio kit. We also gave away an EOS R5, which is the camera I shoot. It’s a $5,000 camera. There are a lot of utilities attached to these. Each person who was on the presale got a signed poster from me and attached is one of the utilities. They also get their plot of land in Shabangrsville. There are more to come. It’s starting and my head is spinning.
I have technical questions to ask you. I’m not sure if this is going to make sense because you are new to this. You are 2, 3 or 4 months into this. That’s not very much. Do you know if you are on the Ethereum network?
Yes, we are on Ethereum.
This is not an OpenSea technology. Is that your own NFT platform or was it white-labeled to other technology behind that?
It’s our own platform, but the secondary market is selling on OpenSea.
That’s the way to do it. This is a quick-to-launch thing. How fast did this go? How did you get this gas behind it so fast?
The team is crazy. When the metaverse came out, I was like, “Go get the plot in Decentraland or Sandbox. Get one in both.” They were like, “We are going to make our own.” I was like, “Hello? Are we? Okay. Make our own.” We hired a team and now we are making our own. It’s exciting.
What is the price point for Shabangrs that gets you this access to a piece of your own metaverse?
We sold them at first for 0.09 ETH. That was through the site and the secondary market is what it is. It depends on the day when you go in there.
What is the average for the appreciation or depreciation from 0.09 ETH? What are things averaging out in the secondary market?
It’s around 0.06 ETH, maybe on OpenSea. You can go and take a look. We have to get the metaverse built and all this stuff is happening, which takes time. That is a reflection of the price, but we are working.
Having your kids come in and tell you about your own NFTs that they heard from their friends should be a merit badge in the boy scouts of parenthood.
They thought I was cool because I had got the blue check on Instagram. I was like, “The NFT thing is cooler.” The fact that their friends are talking about my NFT is cooler than that.
Who have you looked at being new to the space? Have you looked at other NFT platforms or initiatives and been like, “That’s a good idea. I like what they are doing. It’s cool what they are doing. We are going to do something like that or do it super differently?” As you have done a tertiary view, what have you seen in the landscape of NFTs around you that has either been inspirational or has been like, “Is it a danger and red flag? I’m not doing that.”
We are looking at everything to see what the next move is. We are trying to take the right steps. The thing that a lot of people in the NFT space now are like, “I want to get in on that so that I can sell it on OpenSea for a ton of money.” We have our Discord going. Those people who are ready for the flip are like, “What are you doing now?” I’m like, “I’m in a marathon. You are in a sprint, buddy. This is a photography-based community. The community is what is going to make this thing thrive.”
When I talk in Discord, I’m like, “I’m going to talk about photography.” The guy who won the flex kit, which is $5,500, contacted me. He was like, “Can I get an ETH for that because I’m not a photographer?” I was like, “Why have you bought a collectible that’s for photography?” I have got the team. All my people who are photographers were like, “I’m going to grab that NFT from the guy and get a deal on the flex kit.” I was like, “I will ship it to you tomorrow. Grab it on OpenSea.”
The value is in there. The utilities aren’t done. We don’t know where they are going. A lot of people are holding them because they don’t know what direction we are going. The thing that everybody understands is that it’s going to take time. They have to know that we are not a flash in the pan. We are not running away from this. I’m here building it out the best I can. It’s going to be a long-term project that I’m enjoying. Being in the space is like, “If I missed a drop, then I’m pissed about it.” I didn’t click the button and I was like, “It happens. It sold out in ten seconds and I missed it. What can you do?”
When I talk to people about cryptocurrencies and not even NFTs, people will say, “Where is the market? I’m too late or too early.” Only 5% of the globe owns any cryptocurrency. Years ago, it was 0.2% to 0.3%. You are not late for anything, but you have to think about the timeline. I tell people, “Buy it and look away. Don’t look back for three years. If history tells you anything, it will appreciate it.” NFTs are very new. They are the ICO of 2021 and 2022. If history tells us anything, there will be some flashes in the pan. If you are willing to hold on for long enough, you will see some cool things happen and come back around. It’s going to be great.
I’m excited about this for sure, but it’s a weird time to see volatility hitting everything. When you say, “We released it for one. The price is down since then, but that’s a secondary market,” people might have gotten in and thought, “I don’t know what I’m getting here.” They decided to get out. That might affect the price and you don’t know. Gary Vee did an NFT. With his NFT drop, maybe he had a little more certainty that his entire audience would want, which is like, “If you buy three of these, you are going to get a ticket to one of his events.”
If you are a Gary Vee follower, you probably want that. It’s tough to be like, “Are you selling to artists, other photographers, NFT fans, crypto traders or hustlers? Who are you selling to? Do they even want what you are giving them?” Is it like, “If it’s worth something, that’s all got to be liquified?” The liquidity has got to be there for them to see the value in it. They want the ETH. They don’t want the thing. It’s weird and fascinating.
It’s awareness. I’m going out there talking to photographers and getting them fired up about it. That’s why we will be behind this project.
You have been doing this with one artist. Are you looking to bring on multiple artists? Is there going to be a curatorial process to this? Is it going to be like you pick a friend that you think is cool, good enough and on-brand? How are the curation and visual of this going to manifest?
We have talked about that. We have 2,500 of them who are going to be available in circulation. There are 1,300 out there with the ability to go on a secondary market. We have to mint the rest of the 2,500. When that happens and Shabangrsville opens, we will be creating more. It’s yet to be seen. My plan is to have Sergey do it. I love his artwork and what he is doing. We have shown a couple that are a little bit more futuristic or rare. We have some rare ones that may come down the pike. We are working on it. It’s not 100% certain that he will be the only artist on the project. I hope he is the guy. If we do bring in other artists, hopefully, they will emulate or build off what he has already created.
You are on a good network for it. Ethereum is only going to get better. They are moving from proof of work to proof of stake. There are going to be fewer fees. Everything is going to be working better, which is nice. Also, it sounds like you set up the scaffolding to make something soar. It’s exciting, especially as a working artist for all these years, which I can relate to. You make this leap into technology and go like, “This stuff enables my stuff to grow.” It’s not like you are abandoning art to go into tech. It’s like you finally have art-related tech. It’s pretty awesome.
The other thing is the education-wise for the photo community. I have always been an educator. I’m trying to get these photographers aware of, “This is another source of income for you. Look at what you are doing.” I’m a portrait photographer. People ask me, “Do you have your work on Foundation or anything like that?” I’m like, “I shoot my clients for them. Unless I photograph somebody selling an NFT in mine and we discuss it before the shoot, that’s a different ball game.” Me going back into my archives and seeing what is in there, I’m sure there are things sitting there that would be amazing and valuable for me and another income stream.
I was thinking the same thing. I have installation art. It’s impossible to sell installation art when you make non-object-oriented art. That’s an experience. How else do you sell it unless you photograph, video and then repackage that? I’m like, “Maybe I have got a lot of value sitting back there.” I hope that more artists who are reading this realize that too. This is an early time. I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow or it’s not going to take a slump in another year. I have been through enough cycles in crypto. Things come back around if they are well-built, well put-together, have a good community and solid foundation.
Your Shabucks sounds like a cryptocurrency that’s going to be used. If you need some help with tokenomics, let me know. I’m available because that’s what I do. I figure out, “How much are you supposed to put out when and for what reason? Why? Where do you price that at? Who gets it? What do they use it for? How do you deal with the Securities Laws around that if you are going to list it or not?”
Shabucks might only be in your metaverse. Are you going to list them on other exchanges so people can participate without participating? You never know. There are so many options. It’s very Wild West out there. I love that it’s including more artists, photographers, creatives and folks that have been disenfranchised, forgotten and left out to be like that starving artist stereotype that they are somehow supposed to be. It’s ridiculous.
If you can walk and chew gum at the same time and maybe balance a checkbook, you are no longer creative. Having to cut your own ear off to prove that you are a totally out-of-your-mind creative is not something I like anymore. I hope that’s more and more a thing of the past. I hope the crypto-savvy NFT creator who is making lots of money is the stereotype of the artist in the future. I hope that’s a stereotype of you as well.
I have friends who are artists and I have been talking to them. They will come to me because I’m at the forefront of this thing with what everything is going on. I have a good friend who never listened to me. He was one of my muses when I picked up my camera when I first started. We bumped into each other and I was like, “You know I have been telling you to get your shit together for years. NFTs are fully in. Now, go.” He has got this beautiful work. He was creating digital artwork right around when I picked up a camera. I was like, “Now, everything, you have got it.” I’m shaking people. Somebody has to hear something seven times before they go like, “What is that?”
Thank you for saying it at least once, if not a few times, in this show. That has been awesome. I hope that this is inspiring to folks. I hope they go to Shabangrs and get a Shabangrs. I think of it this way. I hope that people educate themselves by engaging with these new technologies. If you took a class on it, you are guaranteed to lose 100% of your money in exchange for knowledge. If you invest the money, you are not guaranteed to lose all of that money, even if it goes down a little.
If it went down from 0.09 ETH to 0.06 ETH, someone spent 0.03 ETH to learn about NFTs and they still kept 0.06 ETH. It’s a better deal than taking a class, as far as I’m concerned. Investing is a good idea. This is not investment advice as I promised you. This is my opinion. I love your platform. I’m so glad that you are able to join us. I imagine that you are plugged in all of them, Discord, Telegram and everything. Anything else that people need to know where they can find you or know more about you?
PeterHurley.com is my website with my work on it. On Instagram, I’m @Peter_Hurley. I answer every DM. If anybody has any questions, hit me up there. I have links in my bio about everything I do. Check it out.
It has been an absolute pleasure talking with you. I appreciate you coming to the show. Thank you again, Peter, for joining us. You have been fantastic.
Thanks, Monika. It was awesome. I loved it. We got to stay in touch.
See you, guys. Thanks for reading.
- Vadim Davydov – LinkedIn
- Headshot Crew
- Canon Explorers of Light – Peter Hurley
- OpenSea – Shabangrs
- Discord – Shabangrs
- @Peter_Hurley – Instagram
About Peter HUrley
Peter Hurley is a New York and Los Angeles based portrait photographer who is regarded as the industry leader in headshot photography. He’s best known for the genuine expressions he captures for his executive business portraits and actor’s headshots.