The intersection of photography and NFTs seems like a natural fit. Lucky for us, many wonderful photographers have entered the space, and owning a piece of their work is easier than ever. UAE-based photographer, creative thinker, and entrepreneur Waleed Shah is an experienced artist with several NFT collections, but there’s more to his work than just beauty. Waleed’s collections shed light on societal issues with his most recent collection, We Breathe, bringing awareness to the dehumanization of models.

The Inspiration & Previous Work

Waleed is a self-taught photographer. Throughout high school and university, where he studied chemical engineering, Waleed was in a band and became their photographer to assist with advertisement. The group also started a recording studio, and the situation evolved to the point where the focus shifted to companies wanting to shoot with Waleed rather than making music. Eventually, the studio shut down, and Waleed went out on his own to become a full-time commercial photographer.

Some of Waleed’s previous projects include Rock Your Ugly, “A raw, unfiltered look into the lives of everyday people willing to bare all and reclaim those parts of themselves they have struggled to embrace.” This project evolved into a published book, and Waleed went on to be a TedX speaker on this topic with a speech entitled, A middle finger to toxic beauty standards.

Waleed entered the crypto space in April 2021 when he learned about the technology behind NFTs and decided to augment his business through their use. First, he created the collection Mowjood (Arabic for “I’m here, I exist”) during COVID to assist “creatives find work by telling their stories in a “magazine cover” style art piece that put them on a pedestal.” From there, Waleed began to use the NFTs from the collection as a form of currency (Waleed is a utility OG!), where in order to book a shoot, 2 NFTs from the collection would need to be purchased. Perhaps the best part is that Waleed coded the royalties so 50% of the proceeds go to the model in the photo. Such a great way to give back to the community!

Next came Magazine Cover, where Waleed approaches magazine covers and their content from a satirical lens. He was drawn to the visual art of magazine covers but couldn’t get behind the screwed-up content being promoted alongside the photos. The disconnect between the two inspired Waleed to create a collection to call out the glorification of unhealthy beauty and living standards on magazine covers. We appreciate the refreshing use of real bodies in the collection and enjoyed the creative headlines that offered a reminder of just how ridiculous current beauty standards are.

The Project | We Breathe

We Breathe, Waleed’s most recent collection, continues the use of a satirical lens but pairs it with a fine art approach. This collection sheds light on the narrative of using people to sell a product but not acknowledging them as humans during the process. On his website, Walled describes the use of models as “Walking like zombies with blank expressions on the runway then blooming into a full glamour pose on command. Only then to retire backstage to stand perfectly still and bare in plain sight for a change of hair, makeup, and wardrobe.” This lack of acknowledgment and exposure has been normalized as “part of the job,” but the narrative bothered Waleed, and therefore he decided to say something about it through his work. The We Breathe collection is a small selection of 1/1 pieces that are incredibly powerful. Additionally, each piece is thoughtfully animated to provide even more visual appeal.

The purchase of a We Breathe 1/1 NFT entitles the buyer to a 16×20” 1/1 platinum print of their NFT. Waleed’s website has a full video of the platinum print process. It is a fascinating and arduous process that uses chemistry to create museum-quality prints. I encourage you to check out the video to get an inside look at why these pieces are so unique. And the cherry on top, the phone app Artivive, can be used to bring the prints alive in augmented reality. The results are stunning! The We Breathe collection is available for purchase on Foundation.

The Alpha

So what’s next? Waleed plans to capitalize on his Web3 knowledge to work with brands and introduce their customers to Web3 technology. How? By changing up the traditional Web3 photoshoot campaigns (send merch to influencers, invite them to a party, take photos, and post on social media). Waleed has ingeniously figured out ways to inject Web3 technology into that process (wallets and NFTs) and may be releasing a campaign for a well-known shoe company very soon via Instagram. Be on the lookout!

Waleed’s work speaks for itself but what’s even better is the empowering message behind the photographs. It is wonderful to see a talented artist use their platform to spread awareness and inspire change. We are fans and will be following along his journey, as it is sure to be incredible!

Learn more about We Breathe and Waleed Shah on his Social Channels:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/waleedshahphoto

Website: https://www.waleedshah.ae/

LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/waleedshah

Spatial VR Gallery: https://spatial.io/s/Waleed-Shahs-Bespoke-Space-62e665f6b1c8360001cb6db9?share=7369157339010144400

Resources:

https://www.waleedshah.ae/

https://youtu.be/gzTf8eu6ZMM

https://linktr.ee/waleedshah

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The content is for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in this article constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer of a security, token, or application. This is not investment or legal advice. Please do your own research.