As the realm of NFTs extends beyond the fringes of digital art, lauded artists like fashion photographer Frederic Auerbach are engaging with the community. Alongside crypto art innovation studio Accursed Share, a studio that helps introduce artists without a background in blockchain to the possibilities of NFT creation, they unveiled Auerbach’s NFT collection, “Captured Moment: The Master’s Process.”
TMS sat down with Auerbach to learn more about the collection, which showcases his photographic style via a collection of shoots with stars like Zendaya, Natalie Portman, Benedict Cumberbatch and others.
Accursed Share presents “Captured Moment: The Master’s Process”
Auerbach’s new NFT project, “Captured Moment: The Master’s Process,” includes drops of his process and master photos (1/1s) of five renowned celebrities: Benedict Cumberbatch, Natalie Portman, Sharon Stone, Mike Tyson and Zendaya. With images and interviews, Auerbach provides insight into how he captures the essence of each of his subjects. The collection includes five videos showcasing the process and the master photos of the subjects and expresses Auerbach’s ability to entrap moments of ingenuity.
The Process Series includes six process pictures of each star. Possession of a photo from the Process Series allows you access to exclusive conversations about NFTs and photography on Auerbach’s upcoming Discord. It allows you to also bid in the Masters Series auction.
The Master Series has five unique sets of NFTs for each celebrity. The sets include an NFT accentuating various qualities of the Master photo by displaying different edits of the image throughout the day; a high-resolution digital photo NFT of the Master photo; a high-resolution autographed print of the Master photo; and a video NFT of Auerbach’s behind-the-scenes interview.
Frederic Auerbach’s NFT journey
While fashion photography often seems a fleeting art destined for the recycling bin, NFTs have an immortal quality by virtue of their digital life. While Auerbach has a long-established career in print fashion photography, he found a unique, new experience creating NFTs.
“I like the pioneering of [NFTs],” muses Auerbach. “That’s something totally new. The other thing that was really appealing [was the] community building, which also means that your work lives on. Because you talk about it, you hear about it, you exchange ideas about it with people, even once the project is done. If the drop is finished, it still exists.
“Even if you shoot for really nice magazines, like Vogue, people flick through and, you know, look at [the shoot] for 10 seconds and then 99% of it goes to the bin,” says Auerbach, shrugging. “So there was no communication about my work at all, which I didn’t care about because I was totally used to that.”
When it comes to the format, Auerbach was drawn to the versatility of NFTs. “A part of the project was what we called the ‘Process Series,’ which is kind of a buildup to my preferred picture of the celebrities, which is what we called the ‘master picture’ …The process pictures, you [don’t normally] see them; they won’t be printed in magazines.”
5 luminaries in photos
The indelibility and inimitability of Natalie Portman’s shoot arose from inspiration. Mike Tyson’s from efficiency. Zendaya’s from authenticity. Benedict Cumberbatch’s from adaptation. Sharon Stone’s from timelessness.
“I chose these five shoots because they [embody certain] aspects that are really important in my work. Not only important to me, but also because it’s just reality. These shoots perfectly illustrate these aspects … I wanted celebrities that are really well-known and are diverse; they come from different fields, etc.”
Auerbach lifted the curtain to shed light on three of these projects.
“I finished the shot with Natalie Portman in the studio, and I thought she should go and change into another look,” recalls Auerbach. “And as she walked through the studio, I looked back again and saw her just passing in front of that window. And then it just clicked. That picture came to my mind immediately. In a case like that, you have to react really quickly because you can’t think for a second. So I stopped and asked her to very quickly try a shot there. It was not planned or scripted at all. It was really spontaneous.”
In his 2013 commercial shoot for Dior, Auerbach facilitated Portman’s balancing act between the luxury brand’s esteem and ebullience. But perhaps even more challenging was ensuring Portman’s famous radiance did not eclipse Dior’s essence or product. You need only blink between shots to sense the movement of Auerbach’s work. Portman drifts from darkness to daylight with all of the grace and none of the ephemerality of a ballerina.
“Mike Tyson doesn’t give a shit about taking pictures,” confesses Auerbach. “He’s not very patient. He’s really nice. He’s really soft and easy, but, you know, he doesn’t think he should care about styling and about pictures, but he has to do it because that’s how it works in our era. You have to give content to your team [before important events,] and that was just before his fight, his exhibition fight.
“So he comes in and you start, and I didn’t know where we were shooting,” says Auerbach. “I’d never been there. It was a training facility that he has near the airport in LA. I had to be ready immediately, and once you start, you can’t stop. You can’t just say, ‘Actually can you wait for 10 minutes?’ It all had to be really fast and really seamless from one shot to the other, without knowing much ahead and without knowing him. I hadn’t met him before. That’s what I call efficiency.”
Although Tyson falls outside Auerbach’s usual subject, Auerbach photographed him in 2020 for Haute Living. Tyson’s casual stance and easy smile paired with his vibrant clothing verge on debonair, a gentle but grounded side to the boxing champion.
“I love Zendaya, and I love the picture of Zendaya because I think it’s really unusual,” says Auerbach. “She came with a part of a team and also with her father – [her] father is a kind of a Barry White figure. Zendaya was quite young. She was about 17 or 18, maybe. It was in 2013, and she was famous already, but not the mega superstar that she is now.
“The clothes were initially really elegant and really sophisticated. That bothered me because she was too young for that. So I tried to find something quite natural and authentic, even with these over-sophisticated and over-adult clothes on her. That’s why I call it ‘Authenticity.’”
The freshness of a Disney Channel star dressed in distinctly adult clothing somehow settles into the chaotic background of a graffitied basement wall. Perhaps it’s Zendaya’s ability to pull off a black peacock feather headdress. One thing is certain: the shoot resulted in something so essentially Auerbach in style and approach.
Auerbach’s future in NFTs
As for future projects, the question isn’t whether Auerbach will continue his experimentation with NFTs but what he will do.
“Will I choose something from shoots I have already?” submits Auerbach. “Will I shoot something specifically? I don’t know exactly. I think the NFT market is still really young and is still driven by mainstream direction … It has to open up. I think the level of art at the moment is not very impressive. And I’m not talking about photography; I’m talking in general. It’s really not very impressive.
“I think when real art enthusiasts come in more and more from different directions, the art is much more diverse and much more interesting,” says Auerbach. “It’s an issue of newness. People are still suspicious. So it will take little time.”
Though initially set to drop on February 17 of this year, Auerbach and his team postponed the Master Series auction in recognition of ongoing geopolitical events, like the war in Ukraine. Auerbach will also donate a portion of the proceeds to LA-based non-profit Farm2People, which strives to mitigate food insecurity by supporting local farmers using sustainable, regenerative farming methods. Stay tuned to the Accursed Share website for updates on the auction.
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