Why I’m Creating The First Official Political Photography NFTs in History

I’m merging Political photography with the world of crypto, the blockchain, for the first time in history.

olitics is one of the oldest staples of modern civilizations, certainly the oldest staple of every democracy, whilst NFTs and blockchain technologies are among the newest integrations in modern life.

For the first time ever I am merging these two worlds — official political photography with NFTs — marking an important historical step for political photographers and digital creatives alike.

You can view the full world-first NFT collection here:

All listings currently in the Political Series above are set to an auction — the highest bid as of 5pm UTC, 20January 2021 will be automatically selected as the winner of the auction, the auction will be closed, and that highest bidder will receive the chosen NFT.

If bids aren’t taken for a particular NFT, that NFT will remain available to place an ‘offer’ on perpetually.

Political Series — the first official political photography NFTs in history

I am kickstarting my work through the uploading of a collection of adaptations of my archival photography of various politicians, including the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, and the former leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

All of the NFTs in this collection, the ‘Political Series’, are artistic adaptations and interpretative edits of photographs I have taken throughout my career, with all of them being taken in an official capacity as an accredited photographer.

All edits in this series were made by me.

These are the first ever official political photographs, taken by a political photographer, ever minted and tokenized on ANY blockchain and ever available for cryptocurrency (Ethereum, ETH).

It’s a collision of one of the oldest and most revered forms of traditional democracy in history, politics and politicians, with the newest and fastest emerging form of technology and artwork right now.

This is a historic moment for blockchain technologies as a whole, as well as the field of photography and ‘professional’ photography (capturing historic moments and individuals of historic interest). This is the first time in history a published, ‘working’ political official photographer has minted their work as a Non-Fungible Token (tokenized work, available via the blockchain). It is also the first time in history political photographs are available via the blockchain, accessible by anyone and available to purchase and own with cryptocurrency directly from the photographer who took them.

Future “Political Series” work will implement more of my extensive archive, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, former Prime Minister David Cameron, and more Cabinet Ministers and other politicians.

What is the ‘blockchain’, and what are NFTs?

The blockchain, in this instance the Ethereum blockchain, operates through a global network of computers that work together as a supercomputer. The network assembles and runs smart contracts — applications that are, in theory, independent from any third party interference or censorship, as the blockchain is resistant to tampering.

This is important as it provides zero barriers to access to viewing and owning assets placed (minted) on the blockchain, and ownership can be granted to anyone.

NFTs are ‘Non-Fungible Tokens’, a tokenized version of work (in this case, my official photography and adaptations of my photography). They’re a digital version of something, and the ownership is transferred digitally through the blockchain.

It’s sort of like how I’m able to post a photograph I’ve taken of the Prime Minister up on Twitter, except through the blockchain this work (NFT) will exist forever, original ownership can be transferred, and verification of that original ownership can be verified.

It’s the next evolution in technology and art as a whole (whether that’s painting, digital art, photography, video, performance, or any other variable of art) and will be the next frontier in copyright assignment and tracking, ownership provision and movement, and viewing (through incredible platforms like Rarible, OpenSea and many more).

I’m confident that within 5 years or less, most aspects of modern digital life will involve a blockchain technology, and in many cases this is already happening right now (Walmart, FedEx, IBM, Microsoft, MasterCard, Visa, Shell, Pfizer, the FDA, the CDC, the Government of Dubai, British Airways and many, many more already utilize it). This is why I am placing my official political photography on the blockchain now, and being the first in history to do so.

For a full and detailed breakdown on what NFTs are, their utility, their history, and much more, read this article by OpenSea:

Which political photographs are you minting as the first in history, and why those ones?

The first political photography I am minting on the blockchain, the first one in history by the photographer themselves, is a photograph I took of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, during a speech to the Conservative Party in Manchester, UK in 2019.

This image was taken during Boris Johnson’s first Conservative Party Conference as Prime Minister, specifically during his first speech during the Conservative Party Conference 2019 in Manchester, UK.

The majority of pictures in the Political Series NFT collection are from this event in Manchester, however other pictures include then-Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.

The first ever political photograph minted as an NFT, titled ‘Political Series — Decayed Faith’, can be found within the Political Series collection here:

I have chosen this moment, this particular photograph, to immortalize as the first ever political photography NFT in history under the name ‘Decayed Faith’ as it marks a powerful torch to the seats of power in the midst of an unprecedented time for the United Kingdom, facing the aftermath of austerity, a global pandemic, and a growing and looming economic crash. Historical and archival photography doesn’t have to mean boring and untouched — history, and the challenging of traditions, is art, too.

Personal note:

This work, my extensive archive of first-hand official photography, opens up to a LOT of creative freedom for how I can integrate my work in a way that’s appealing to a wider audience — I mean, realistically, politics and royalty is cool for drama and Trump getting banned from Twitter and all that stuff, but that’s all people generally care about at a surface level and tend to avoid the nitty-gritty deeper diving details of everyday politics, and I recognise that. So I’m adapting my work with custom artwork/ manipulations, custom descriptions analysing those adaptations, and titles that reflect that (for example, the title of one of my Boris Johnson sets is ‘Pericles Fall’ — Pericles is one of Boris Johnson’s ‘Greek idols’ from his time studying Ancient Greek mythology, so I can have a lot of fun with how I intelligently title and work these narratives!)

My complete archive of official photography includes many dozens of thousands of images, the vast majority unedited and completely unseen by the world, so I am actively looking into ways that I can create adaptations of unseen photographs — images never seen by anyone on earth before of key historical moments and figures — while giving access to these raw images to those that own the NFT!

In an average event I photograph, whether it’s royal or political, I snap about 3000–8000 photographs — 95% of those never see the light of day, so there’s some special once-in-a-generation works that will be released through my career, as well as some fun gamified ways of releasing unseen work, and working with some of the leading NFT artists to adapt such work! The creative freedom with my archive is enough to talk about for 100 hours, the sky really is the beginning of the limits with this type of work.

Here’s what, to me, makes all of this really, incredibly special:

  • I am creating the first in history for political photography NFTs, adapting my work to develop a core, deep narrative and titling to each piece, all shaping a larger collection of work.
  • As with politics, I’ll also be the first in history for royalty photography NFTs — again, a deep narrative and titling, and looking into more manners of adaptation and release including unseen work and distribution of raw images.
  • The NFTs are minted directly by me as the photographer, so no rights or copyrights clashes will arise as a result of ownership or sale.
  • I have an expansive archive of 4+ years worth of photography so far, and 50,000 +unseen images of historical moments and historical figures, from royalty and politicians, to celebrity and major global events (including protests, news events, and more).
  • I’m an active photojournalist, so there’s a whole lifetime of work and integration still to come ahead of me — Royal Weddings and births, significant funerals and national events, concerts, tours, celebrity, travel and much, much more. I’m 22 — so there’s quite the road ahead of me!
  • I can adapt my NFT production to either just be a ‘raw’ photograph untouched and minted as-is, or insane, multi second/ minute artistic adaptations of work.
  • This field of work allows for an incredibly easy integration to collaborate with other artists — either as the foundation of their work, or as an integral entwining of our pieces.
  • I am actively considering and developing a gamification element to release unseen work (perhaps collaborate with artists to hide code within an image to release an unseen, or create multiple pieces of work that act as a ‘key’ to unlock hidden and unreleased work).
  • I’m accredited as a press card holder, both in the UK and internationally, so I have access to events other people just don’t — that level of exclusivity in NFT is something never been seen before.

What artist can say they can stand a few metres away from Her Majesty The Queen or the Prime Minister, take photographs that will end up in newspapers and history books, then post unseen work on the blockchain as NFTs that people can exclusively hold forever?

Currently — literally nobody. That exclusivity is mind blowing, and opens the doors up to future generations of press photographers to host and mint work on the blockchain (in the same way journalists are now uploading written work to the blockchain, like the election results last November, I firmly believe every news photographer and agency will eventually upload to the blockchain their images — I’m just the very first one making that a possibility).

The foundation image for the first ever official political photograph NFT — Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his first Conservative Party Conference speech as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Photographed by me in 2019.
The adaptation of the above image to be used as the first official political photograph NFT in history. Titled “Decayed Faith” in the “Political Series” collection.

About Benjamin Wareing

Benjamin Wareing is a 22-year-old royal, political and news (press) photographer based in the UK. He first officially photographed the Royal Family aged 19, and first officially photographed politics (former Prime Minister David Cameron and then-Prime Minister Theresa May) aged 17.

His work has been features around the globe on every continent and in dozens of publications, from The Guardian and MSN, to The Times, BBC, Hello! Magazine and more.

Benjamin recently completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism (while photographing events like the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan and numerous political events in the background)

While COVID-19 is impacting and limiting access for photographers to cover events like political speeches and royal engagements, Benjamin is integrating his archive of historically significant photographic work within the blockchain as NFTs.

Upcoming exclusive works include additional political adaptations, expanding the “Political Series” to more politicians, as well as the creation of the “Royal Series”, the first time in history official royal photography is minted as NFTs.

To stay tuned with all my developments and releases, follow me at my social media links here:

Twitter | Telegram | Medium | Publish0x | OpenSea | Rarible | Website

Journalist and Photographer | Breaking News, Royalty, Politics, Celebrity and more

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