Manual Photo + Raven B. on picturing a whole new world.

Our favorite scene photographers join forces and hive mind the future of images in NFTs.
Published on
5 May 2021
Written by
Charles Damga
Manual Photo + Raven B. on picturing a whole new world.

Photography at Foundation is taking a real hold and spreading its wings. Raven B. and Manual Photo are established, youthful names in New York and North America at large. Their subjects and commitment to accessible, organic stories have been catching the city by storm. From music, to portrait, and lifestyle photography, we are excited to usher them into a new paradigm they are sure to flourish within. 

Whether photographing VIPs, or distributing point and shoot cameras to first time photogs, these figures are leading the charge in their industry. Here at Foundation we believe NFTs are an equally brave frontier to pioneer. Ravie B has explored the medium with three pieces ranging from landscape, to Young Thug, to subtle neon animation, while Manual has just debuted their “minted” collection of three wide ranging pieces from Jayne Lies, Jesse Crankson and Savion Spellman. Their work plays with the fabric of the medium, and innovates in a way that makes space for artists of color while bringing an immediate impact.

What is your experience with photography in markets and galleries pre-NFTs?

Raven B: To be honest, I've never sold a print. So I would say both the regular market and the NFT market are new to me. With the regular market, it's about establishing your brand and your identity as an artist—something people can relate to and can resonate personally with a consumer. 

Manual: We’ve always prided ourselves on being able to create real life moments and experiences around photography. We’ve hosted gallery shows, and parties centered around experiencing people’s work in the real world. However, we’ve noticed that the traditional gallery model actually blocks a lot of young and super talented people from participating. Art should be an open, flowing channel and should allow anyone—regardless of their clout or connections—to be able to showcase their images, and sell their work. 

How is your work explored digitally by your fans and how does it make you feel? 

Raven B: Most of my work for the last decade has been experienced digitally. And I honestly think it has made people truly connect with me as a person. I feel like in the early part of my career, when I was doing more concert photography, getting my work up as fast as possible on social media helped propel my work. I also made people feel like they were there, capturing it with me. I share my work online in the same way that I share my hobbies, and what I like and that's what draws people to my work. It makes them feel like they have a connection with the subjects. It fulfills me, inspires me, and it motivates me to connect with people for my art.

Manual: Instagram has always been a major driver for showcasing our projects. The way our friends and fans digitally and socially connect with photography is more important than ever. That’s why we feel like the NFT space is the perfect evolution of how we’ve experienced photo work for the past few years—it gives fans a chance to own certified pieces of their favorite photographers work without going through the traditional gallery model. 

What's your relationship to your camera/medium, technologically?

Raven B: It is an extension of me. I feel very personally connected to my cameras...all of them. I have a different experience with each one.  

Manual: Manual is focused pretty exclusively on the film photography world. Totally analog, with no direct relationship to the digital or technological side of photography, but it’s interesting, because the resurgence of film photography is directly tied to the advances in the technological side. It seems like the more advanced phones and digital cameras get, the more interest there is in film photography. People yearn for the vibrance and authenticity that you get with a film photo even more when all they see every day are the algorithmically curated images on their smartphone.

When has your experience as a group dynamic, be it your collective or with your subjects, been synergistic to your work?

Raven B: A few ways––when I was on tour three years ago, there was a synergy in creating with a group of people. It was fueled by being better every night than we were the previous night. In a general sense, working with people, shooting talent, I feed off their energy to create photos that I think best represent them. That’s all we really have to go on. 

Manual: Manual has had a collective mindset from its inception. When we were starting this company, we saw this landscape forming of young photographers all over the world shaping new avenues and scenes through film photography. We wanted to create a space for them to connect and grow, while continuing to push the boundaries of their medium. To this day, every project we take on has some sort of collective aspect to it, bringing different photographers together to explore the similarities and differences in their works—and hopefully creating something unique from that relationship. 

The three photographs we selected for this first release with Jayne Lies, Jesse Crankson, and Savion Spellman explore the abstract in their photo work. Each piece feels otherworldly, drawing you in and making you question how and where the work was created.  

What do you see as the future for photography?

Raven B: I see it continuing to become more accessible; and people who pursue it as a career, finding more ways to stand out. I personally believe everyone should use photography to document their perspective and what they see. As a photographer I feel like I'm constantly seeking new ways to stand out and tell my own stories. 

Manual: We’re grounded in the idea that photography is a medium that will be around forever. It’s the most honest mirror we have to our society. It will grow and change throughout the decades, but there will always be people who are hungry to capture the world around them and share their perspectives. Hopefully the future of photography will be more about openness and inclusion. That’s what we’re striving for, and that’s what the NFT space will hopefully enable as it grows and evolves.   

Read more