October 21, 2021
By Hillary K. Grigonis

As NFT art experiences rapid growth, a group of creatives, including headshot photographer Peter Hurley, is taking a different approach to the cryptocurrency-backed digital art authentication platform. With a team from his education platform Headshot Crew, Hurley, who is a longtime WPPI conference speaker, is creating a digital world, or “metaverse” for photographers called Shabangrville. It is a gameified online community for photographers that could eventually include anything from photo contests to exploring the virtual streets with exclusive characters. Entry into this brave new online metaverse, however, means owning one of 10,000 limited NFT characters.
Earlier this week, Hurley and his team launched early access sales of Shabangrs, unique NFT characters that are designed by artist Serhii Huranchyk. These characters are sold as NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, that’s a blockchain-backed way of authenticating online art and collectables. The NFT proves ownership and the uniqueness of the art of collectible, which in this case is camera-headed character art.
While none of the 10,000 characters are duplicates, they are generated from a mix of features that may be found on other characters. For example, the camera-headed characters will have one of 40 different heads, for example, mixed with all the different options for shoes, pants, shirts, backgrounds and even what the character is holding in its right and left hands. Some features will be rarer than others, Hurley explains, which could affect the resell value.
[Read: NFT Art Sales: Lindsay Adler Shares Best Practices]
Like a piece of NFT artwork, Shabangrs are collectables that could change in value and be traded or sold down the road. But, unlike owning authentic digital art, Shabangrs are also part of a metaverse, or an online world. Shabangrville, besides just providing a place for those digital characters to hang out, will also include perks for the NFT owners. While Shabangrville is still  under development, Hurley suggested that members will have access to photo contests and Shabangr characters will star in their own movies.
The raffle also includes several lifetime memberships to the Headshot Crew education platform as well as earning your character’s spot in a Shabangr movie.
[Read: 10 Random Questions for Peter Hurley]
Hurley says that the idea came after a member of his Headshot Crew team, Vadim Davydov, asked Hurley to take on an NFT project with him. The team brought on Huranchyk to create the characters and Maksym Krysanov to engineer the blockchain. “It was the coolest one I’d ever seen,” Hurley says of his reaction to seeing the characters for the first time. “I wasn’t one of those guys that traded baseball cards or collected anything. But I thought, If I’m going to collect anything in the crypto space, it’s going to be that.”
[Read: Photographer Sells Her Most Stolen Image as NFT Art and Releases the Usage Rights]
While selling work as NFTs is gaining popularity, Hurley and his team took a different approach. As a portrait photographer, he explains, he didn’t feel comfortable with releasing his previous work as NFTs. An NFT with a person in it would have to have the person—perhaps a celebrity—be on board from the start, he explains. “I don’t want to sell anything that has another human being in it without them wanting to do it as well.”
The Shabangr NFTs—which get their names from Hurley’s catchphrase “shabang!”—are randomly generated. Buyers won’t know which character they are getting before the purchase. Each NFT character costs .09 ETH, plus the GAS fees associated with any cryptocurrency purchase. (The value of ETH changes regularly. At the time of this writing, .09 ETH was equal to about $367.66). ((A portion of the sales are also being donated to the United Nations Association of Tampa Bay’s Picture My Life program.)
While early sales started Oct. 20 to the Shabangrs Discord, the sales of these photography-inspired characters open to the general public on Oct. 30 beginning at 9 a.m. EST, You’ll be able to buy them through the OpenSea marketplace. Read more on how to buy NFTs on Open Sea here.
Still confused by NFTs? Read more on what NFTs are and the process of buying and selling NFTs.
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