Raven Trammell is a Los Angeles-based photographer and visual storyteller, originally from Holland, Michigan. From documenting protests to capturing some of the most prominent artists in the world on stage, her portfolio varies in subjects and compositions. Raven recently began minting her documentary photography series on the blockchain in 2021.
Where did your passion for documentary photography come from?
I’ve been taking photos since I was a kid. I bought my first camera when I was nine from a garage sale. I loved documenting the fishing trips I would take with my Grandpa. As I started playing basketball, aiming to get a full scholarship, my creative interests kind of fell to the side. I ended up getting that full scholarship and played four years of basketball at Lake Superior State University. In my sophomore year, I had back-to-back concussions, one of the major symptoms was memory loss. I got back into photography as a way to preserve my memories. Ever since then, I haven’t put the camera down. Freezing moments in time has become extremely important to me.
You have a unique story in that you pursued photography at an early age as well as sports. What was that journey like, and what did you glean from your experiences with both?
Each journey has their own paths but also find ways to intertwine. I think photography, to me when I was a kid, was a fun way to document the fishing trips I’d go on with my Grandpa. I love him so much, and he’s always been so supportive. He still has photos I took from those trips.
I started playing AAU basketball when I was nine years old. So many hours of passion and dedication were put into the game. My Dad, Shawn, got me into hooping and took me to every practice and every game. He helped me discover a drive within myself I wouldn’t have found otherwise. “Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?” he would say during workouts. I apply a lot of the perseverance, dedication, and grit I had on the basketball court to how I approach the NFT space. Good isn’t enough for me, I want to be great.
In the past, documentary photography was prominently driven by white male artists. As we see the culture shifting to inclusivity concerning women and artists of colour, how do you feel the collective consciousness will relate to the history of picture-making?
I think as people connect with the photos, they naturally form a connection with the photographer. If you see an image that stops you in your tracks, you’re naturally going to want to learn more. I also think every photographer shoots from a different perspective. Having more diversity within any space allows for many different perspectives, which I think is necessary for growth.
When I think about compelling documentary photography, I think of photographers like the work of Susan Meiselas and Andres Serrano’s Residents of New York series. Are there contemporary documentary photographers that you align your work with, and if so, do you think it would be interesting to see them minting their photography as NFT’s? Do you think their work would find success in this space, given the interest has traditionally been in the intrinsic value of their physical prints?
Before NFTs, I thought I had to be shooting portraits in order to make a living. So most of the photographers I keep up with are portrait photographers. Kennedi Carter, Dana Scruggs, and Gunner Stahl are a couple who really inspire me just because they’re doing the work they want, it’s powerful, and they continue to push their craft. I would love to see some of their work in the NFT space. I think their work would do well.
There is an intersection happening with activism, art, and NFTs? How do you reconcile the three?
I really love seeing projects that incorporate activism and giving back. It’s important. Some people have been in the space for a long time, but for the most part, a lot of us entered at the beginning of this year. We’ve discovered this new tool to not only get our artwork out there but also another way to generate, potentially, a substantial amount of income. It feels right to be giving some back.
There’s so much incredible art in the space. With a lot of beautiful colours and images, you can feel like you’re out of the real world when you step into some of these VR Metaverses. This is incredible but I also think we need some realness and humanity in the Metaverse. Balance is always important. I like to think my protest work adds that bit to the space.
What projects are you currently working on, both on or offline? Any new drops coming?
I recently dropped HUSSLE AND MOTIVATE, a collection dedicated to Nipsey Hussle. This collection is on Opensea and is made up of 33 1/1 documentary photographs paired with a subcollection of 19 collectible 3D Polaroids that I made from the 1/1s. I was overwhelmed, and still am honestly, from the response the collection had. The 1/1s sold out in 12 fricken hours…I still can’t believe it. I’m really focused on continuing to push this project out there. It’s really close to my heart, and I’ll be donating 20% of the 1/1 primary and secondary sales to Crete Academy, which I’m super proud of. Crete Academy is a school in South Los Angeles, dedicated to serving students experiencing homelessness and/or extreme poverty. There are a few 1/1s available on the secondary market! There are also some of the 3D Polaroids available.
To learn more about Raven, check out her NFTs on Foundation, visit her website, and follow her online: