The Me Llamo Art Podcast

Episode 3 - Preparing for Lucky Opportunities with Fidel Amos

February 23, 2023 Me Llamo Art Season 1 Episode 3
The Me Llamo Art Podcast
Episode 3 - Preparing for Lucky Opportunities with Fidel Amos
Show Notes Transcript

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” This quote is attributed to the Roman philosopher, Seneca, but it is also a concept that today’s guest takes quite seriously!

Fidel Amos is a photographer, community builder, avid NFT collector, and the creator of the top-selling black and white photography collection on OpenSea. Today, Fidel joins us to share his journey through Web3 and offer some insight into the apparent overnight success of Black & White Nights, his now-famous collection of 50 nightlife photos, taken mainly in New York between 2006 and 2014. 

Tuning in, you’ll also find out how Fidel stepped into his role as Community Head at the online marketplace and photography magazine, Picture This, why he is excited about recent AI innovations as a photographer, and why he encourages artists in the NFT space to be kinder to themselves, especially as we navigate this tough bear market. For all this and more from a self-proclaimed old-school photographer trying to find his way in this new school world, make sure not to miss today’s episode of Me Llamo Art!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How being a “military brat” inspired Fidel to become a photographer.
  • Film versus digital in a professional context.
  • The importance of asking questions and facilitating your own learning.
  • Insight into how Fidel developed his distinctive photographic style.
  • How Black & White Nights became a top-selling verified collection on OpenSea.
  • Why it’s crucial to be prepared for every “lucky” opportunity.
  • A look at the NFT collection Fidel has built and his role with Picture This.
  • Why it’s difficult for him to say where he is “from” as a lifelong nomad.
  • What Fidel would do if he weren’t a photographer and how he chooses to relax.
  • The innovative use of AI (and why innovation is important in the NFT space).
  • Why Fidel encourages his fellow artists to “go easy” on themselves.


Fidel Amos

Black & White Nights

Picture This

Fidel Amos on Instagram

Fidel Amos on Twitter

Fidel Amos LinkTree

The Me Llamo Art Podcast

Me Llamo Art

Me Llamo Art on Instagram

Me Llamo Art on Twitter



[00:00:04] JB: Welcome back to the Me Llamo Art Podcast. I'm your host, Jordan Banks. Today, I'll be talking with fellow giant, Fidel Amos. Fidel is not only a fantastic photographer, a great community builder, supporter, avid art collector, and all-around nice guy. It's a real pleasure to have Fidel join us today and I can't wait to hear more about his journey through We3b three. So let's go.


[00:00:28] JB: I'm joined by Fidel Amos today. Fidel, man, how you doing? It's awesome to have you join us on the show today. How's things?

[00:00:34] FA: Yeah, doing fantastic, bro. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm glad you asked. Things are well, living in Italy, getting fat on pasta, the holidays are coming up. Christmas is pretty big here, so that's going to be all holiday season until after the new year.

[00:00:47] JB: Yeah, I'd like to see Italy in Christmas season actually. I’ve never been over sort of in that time. Did it go hell and leather for it, does it?

[00:00:55] FA: Yeah. It's a little off this year, because a lot of different countries in Europe have kind of been toning down their light and gas expenditures because of what's going on between Russia and Ukraine. You see a little less lights, there's been a little bit of movement, at least here in Italy. And I heard in France and Spain as well, where people are just kind of not doing the whole big city lights, and the trees, and the giant things. The mood is a little less, I guess, bright. But still, for Christmas, families are a big thing here. They have these giant lunches and dinners the day before, and the day after, and during. So it's always good to see family and stuff. Yeah, big Italian thing.

[00:01:36] JB: I suppose that's not really – I mean, it's tough, isn't it when you see it, especially like for the kids and stuff, and it's not as bright.

[00:01:41] FA: Yeah. But, you know, today's world is so different. The "kids now,” they know. Everybody follows everything in social media. So whenever there's a Black Lives Matter or Call to Arms for something global like the Earth Day, remember, kids everywhere were involved. So I think they're a little bit more knowledgeable now in a part of things, as opposed to when we were kids, and when things happen, it was more quiet.

[00:02:05] JB: We just lived in our own little bubbles, didn't we? Because we didn't have the access to the global.

[00:02:09] FA: Yeah. Or even if we knew about something like a war going on, there was no way we could call it the actual news daily, and hourly and stuff. It was whatever info we were given. 

[00:02:17] JB: Yeah. Totally. So I'm going to kick off a little bit about you and your photography. When did the bug hit you? How did it arrive? Was it at a very young age or was it –?

[00:02:26] FA: Yeah, photography. Well, traveling really is the thing that kicked in at a young age. Both my parents were in the military, and so I grew up bouncing around cities, bouncing around countries until I was about maybe 16 when we moved back to the US. But in that traveling, we were always taking photos and videos. My dad was very – I can't say technologically advanced, but he was very proud of the family that we’d become, and he was very proud of photos, and he had the Betamax, the Sony. So, we took videos even when I was seven or eight years old, I think, we had that already. 

When I was maybe 10 and 12, it went through my family the little throwaway cameras. So we were always snapping those at parties and birthdays and things like that as we traveled. As a passion, when I thought it could be something serious, was really around college, when people started to say, "Man, that's a nice photo. These are nice shots that you've taken.” At first, I thought it was more because my family traveled, and so it was just – when they came to the house, guests and things like that, with the photo albums, I thought maybe just seeing Italy, or just seeing Germany, or something was like, "Wow! That's a great photo."

After college, I moved to New York. I was actually in acting. One of my minors was theater, and so I got the acting bug. I moved to New York in 2001. The whole time, I was still taking photos of parties that I was with and promoting, and I was hanging around with a lot of B-list celebrities, because we were doing commercials, and I was doing little type things. Then at night, we would kick in, and so I took photos of everything.

I think somewhere around maybe 2003 or 2004, I started using actual DSLRs and actually putting my mind to trying to make money with it, because up until then, everything I had done was just for myself, or friends’ weddings or things like that. So yeah, my first paid photography work was around '04, '05. That took me into fashion, and that took me into the nightlife and the celebrity life. I guess that's when I actually became a paid photographer.

[00:04:31] JB: When you start off playing, obviously, you said throwaway cameras just as a kid. That was all film, I assume.

[00:04:36] FA: Yeah, it was all film. 

[00:04:37] JB: Obviously, the throwaway ones were.

[00:04:38] FA: Yeah, that's all they had at the time. It was a little more fun because you never really knew what you were getting. You couldn't set up any kind of lighting. You get to film later. I’d learn as I went in the sense that, don't shoot into the sun, don't shoot moving, jumping around, things like that, basic structure of how photography worked. Yeah, I learned through that experience.

[00:05:01] JB: So when you started off turning pro or getting your first paid gig when you sort of took it, was that a big thing? Was that digital then? I guess digital was around in 2000 –

[00:05:09] FA: Yeah, probably 70/30. I knew a lot of photographers that were still born and bred in film, and were using film. But it was coming to the point where people could start to afford their own DSLRs. I got my own DSLR, I think my first one was in '06, where it was like mine. Around '03, '04, I started to use cameras of my friends, because I just didn't have whatever – the grandeur was to get a camera. Yeah, I was fully digital by that point. In fact, other than taking some fun classes and having experiences with my friends who use film, like I don't know how to develop and I don't know the ins and outs of how to use film. Yeah.

[00:05:45] JB: Do you think that the digital – because obviously, you took that into a job when it was sort of digital. Do you think that was a catalyst to what it was like, actually, this is a bit not easy to take good photographs, but easier just as a job? You don't have to start developing, you get the picture, and it's done, you can send it to a client. Do you think that is –

[00:06:01] FA: Yeah, 100% for me, especially because everything I was shooting then was nightlife. I was making money by being in places with celebrities and being in places during the nightlife of New York, which in, '02, '03 was booming, because 911 didn't happen then. Many businesses, and many people, and a lot of money and funds were going to New York to build the spirit, to build the city. So there was always something going on.

I learned through a lot of other photographers freelance that worked for Getty and that worked for Magnum, guys that worked for AP and stuff on the side, they taught me how to send my photos early morning to various magazines and to various newspapers to try to get in those slots as a freelance capacity. I started to make money that way and I started to learn how to use that market to the best of my abilities because I was always around celebrities. I was always in limousines, and always hanging around nightclubs and stuff. So, it's just page six for Daily News or things that people want to see.

[00:07:03] JB: But you were quite on the cutting edge, then as well, when that digital – obviously, people were doing that style of work beforehand, selling images of stuff. But it was a lot slower process, you had to really be connected with a magazine, you'd go in, you'd be on the staff.

[00:07:13] FA: And that's the thing. With digital, it was immediate. A lot of times. there were two or three big times in my life where I remember getting a grand or two for photos, simply because I had something at two in the morning. I would go home and look at it, and be like, "That's a shot right there." I'd send it in a 3:00 a.m. email to 10 different people and say, “Whoever writes me back first, this could be news.” It happened a couple of times to me. But being fast – I mean, I'm sure there were film photographers who were doing it, but not nearly as fast as being there and being able to throw in any email and throw it online immediately.

[00:07:48] JB: Do you think that seeing the advantages of film to digital photography, do you think that have been something you've always been on to, hence, why you were very early on to the NFT, you're just sort of looking for that opportunity? Or do you think it is just happened to be at the right place, right time?

[00:08:00] FA: I think, also my personality came into that a lot. I learned everything from the "street," going through cameras, and figuring out which place to be, and experience, and which red carpet to go to, and what time, and who to call. All those things came from talking to people. I kind of build a rapport as a social person, a social butterfly. I think a lot of the things that happened for me very quickly, yes, the opportunity was there, but it really wasn't online yet in the sense like you couldn't go to Twitter spaces, and learn and ask.

There were a lot of people who were just using cameras, but not really getting better. No one was on manual, for example. Everyone would just get the camera, put it on automatic. After like six months of that, I was already asking photographers that I knew who were friends of mine, "Hey, man. What is F sub? How do I change the lighting on things? That helped me to meet people in the business to kind of take advantage of those opportunities. Yeah.

[00:08:58] JB: I think that's a really great piece of advice. Still today, though, isn't it? I mean, to just put yourself out there, ask questions, learn. I mean, people like to teach people, and talk about things about and knowledgeable about. I think people often appreciate when someone wants to learn as well. They all sort of remember the days when they were out there wanting to learn as well, and think, "Well, someone told me."

[00:09:15] FA: It's so easy now. I can be in a space, someone can ask me something that people pay money by the hour to learn, because I'm there, because we're talking, of course.

[00:09:23] JB: For me, you've got a very unique style. It hit me that you've got the sort of Helmut Newton vibe meets Cartier-Bresson, with a modern-day –

[00:09:31] FA: My God! Wow! You're recording this, right? [Inaudible 00:09:34] It could be in my televised commercial.

[00:09:38] JB: I do. I do. I was like, if someone hates on it, then they're like, "No." But I'm not comparing any of you, who's better or who's worst. That was what struck me when I saw it, I was like, "This is –“ How did you develop that style? I mean, I think you've gone into it a bit, but it's there are sort of process that you went through?

[00:09:50] FA: I have dreams of a world in the future where the cameras will be so small and so fast, they’ll be in our glasses, in our eyes at some point; in lenses, and contacts and things that we can use. I'm a really, really, really big people person. I can read what people are thinking, what they're doing. I can read their faces, the emotions that they're having. All of this adds to the party life that I lead. I knew when people were having fun, when they weren’t, when something was wrong, when they wanted to leave, when they wanted to come in. All of that prepares me for what a human will do in a situation, and what will be a good photo moment to share.

It all started for me with sharing. I think I started to learn how people would move in the street, and how they would move on a train, and in a party, and walking by a school, and doing drugs, or being homeless. Like all of these things, as you see them in New York, especially, their photographable moments. I don't know.

[00:10:53] JB: The decisive moment, we're comparing you to Bresson.

[00:10:57] FA: There are things that I believe, "Hey, did you see that thing that just happened? If I had taken a photo of that, people would have loved that." I have this photo that won me an award once years ago, 2003 I think, 2002. It was a little girl, probably about two years old. It was the dead heat of the summertime. She was listening to the train above the subway in New York on the street. There are those grates, like the infamous scene where Marilyn Monroe has her dress blown up. There are these grates that the wind comes through in the tunnels. She was pressed down, with their hands down to the grate and she was blowing the wind that was coming from the grate and her hair was blowing. She was so small and it was a very natural thing.

But I knew that would make a wonderful photograph, because I knew the effect that would have on people. So, I paused my life, and stopped and pulled my phone or camera out. I don't remember what I had at the time, and I would just took photos of her for about 20 seconds. You know what I mean? I published that photo, and it was in a magazine, and it got a little junior award and things like that. Because those moments, I think people want to see those. So all of that in a nutshell. In a club, people want to see the fun, the excitement, the sweat of the dancing, the drinks spilling, the laughter, the smoking in the backroom, in the darkness. People want to see those things. They don't want to see a general party shot, a front door, the entrance, the bottle of champagne. I think reading a room that way helped me to take raw photos.

[00:12:28] JB: You hit on there like this sort of being in tune with your surroundings, I think was what you were doing. You just could read people, you could see what they were going to do next for the good shot, you could see what they needed, how they needed to be treated to relax around you. I think I definitely am a big believer. And I think, obviously, you're a big fella as I am. We're both – it's hard. You've got to learn this, I think, especially if you're a big person, then approaching and getting in their personal space. You've got to learn this skill of –

[00:12:52] FA: And its personality, really. It's a big thing.

[00:12:55] JB: Again, you're answering all my questions before I've got to them, I think. Obviously, your Black & White Nights is a pretty legendary, I'd say, collection in this space, isn't it? If it's not already, it's going to go down as one of the classics, I think. But I want to know what made you release that collection? I think you may have already answered that question. 

[00:13:16] FA: Yeah, except the money part. Desperation, sir.

[00:13:20] JB: It's been verified as well, isn't it, as well? Which is –

[00:13:22] FA: Oh, yeah. I was very blessed there, because it was verified days after, like it exploded. It only took two or three days for it to do 100 X of what I put it out for.

[00:13:34] JB: I guess, as well then, adding on to that, I mean, people are going to be interested how you turn a project and a couple of days into 100 ETH –

[00:13:41] FA: I was in a bad place, January, February, March last year. Not mentally, financially, COVID, I was teaching photography as a professor at a college here. And when COVID came, and made everything online, the last 25% of the people hired for those jobs, they just had to let go, because all of the work that they had squeezed down into a few hours and they had to give those hours to the teachers who had tenure. Coincidentally, I was in two of those jobs. December of '20 and January of '21, I had no work. 

When I saw NFTs, my brother brought me in by – he was in Top Shop, and he said – it was absurd the thing he was saying. There are these photos of these basketball players, these videos of these basketball players that are doing things, and they're selling. Okay, cool. Why would I buy that? I can go and download it, my first reaction. Then he said, "Just go and look, because there's some people selling photos. You should go and look, go and look, you do the media thing. Go and look." So I did. God bless I had hours every day to just do that, because I wasn't working. I'm only spending time with my girlfriend in the evening, some in the mornings. I had eight hours a day to do nothing, and so I did that.

Then I thought, how can I really make this make any sense for me? Because I'm putting in a lot of work, I'm not making any money really, I need to find a job. I thought, let me do the mass production kind of thing with something that I know people love, and I'll just make them $50 each. I went to OpenSea. I did the lazy minting, I put up 50 pieces of nightclubs with celebrities, with friends that I just – were the most popular photos for me 10 years ago, because people love those. I made – 0.02 I think was the famous price. It's sold meagerly at the beginning, but the thing that it did was, it sold to people of power. My first collector, my second collector were people who were buying things at the time, like Nyan Cat. The owner who does that, I think Chris is his name. He bought a piece and then Debbie bought a piece.

Randomly, one day as I was schilling to high heaven, a guy, he made a comment on Alex Becker's Twitter. Alex Becker is a big financial guy, and a crypto guy and he was buying pieces at the time. He said, "Hey, you should just look at Fidel's Black & White Nights." Becker went in and bought four pieces right off the jump. What he did was, he tweeted about it, "I bought these four pieces." Now he's got like 100. Now, he's got I don't know how followers, hundreds of thousands at the time, hundred thousand. He said, "What was the tweet?" It was just like ten words. It was, "Oh, for NFT photography, go to Black & White Nights." Also, Will Nichols at the time had Hundred Palms. He was like, "Black & White Nights, Hundred Palms," that's all he tweeted. It was about one in the morning here, I was getting ready to go to bed, just kissing my girlfriend. She's beautiful. God bless you, dear. My phone just exploded, because I had my OpenSea notification setup and it just exploded. I was probably averaging four or five sales a second. In a minute, everything was gone. It was just gone.

[00:16:42] JB: Did you get much sleep that night?

[00:16:43] FA: Never, after that.

[00:16:45] JB: On the town, let's go. 

[00:16:46] FA: I haven't slept since that night. What happened was, I got excited because I thought, 50 pieces, they just sold. That was one ETH for me. That was at the time was like $2,500. We made it, Lord. Thank you. I want to thank my mama, my father. What I didn't have in mind was a secondary. It just doesn't happen. Even now, it doesn't happen. The secondary went over, and over, and over, and over again. Every photo sold six, seven, eight times in 30 minutes, 20 minutes, and it was just insane. The photos reached eight or nine ETH at one point, and they were just selling, and selling, and selling.

All of that was chance, man. I was prepared, though, I can say that. I don't really believe in luck, but they say, those opportunities, when they hit, you have to be prepared. That's what it is. It's combination. All my photos were labeled, all my traits. I put traits on all of them to make their rarities. The list was nice, and the writing was double, triple-checked before I posted it. So I did have everything ready when people got over there. But how it happened was chance.

[00:17:52] JB: I think now that is, like you've hit it on the head, everything's got a little bit of luck to it has or chance, like right place, right time. You got to put yourself in the right space and hope for the opportunity to arise.

[00:18:02] FA: After that kind of success, a lot of folks just kind of ride that and just – that was the success I had and that's it. I did six collections after. Being prepared to move forward also is a big step, I think a lot of artists should be prepared for. It's sad to see a lot of artists that have dropped out, because obviously, now, the market is dead and things are moving really slowly. The markets never dead. NFTs forever. I’m full-time Web3.

[00:18:27] JB: The dream, yeah. 

[00:18:28] FA: I'm living the dream.

[00:18:30] JB: I'm seeing him celebrate for those who haven’t got the video feed.

[00:18:34] FA: I'm doing the dance.

[00:18:36] JB: I assume if the clicking moment of this can really be something, as I assume, when your phone started to blow up from –

[00:18:43] FA: Actually, no. It was the first sell. First I ever sell was the guy, I believe [inaudible 0:18:46] was his name. He had a show that he did on – it was either Twitch or something. It was a live show, with a video, where he would share his screen and say, "Today, I'm going to go buy some pieces from [inaudible 00:18:57]." He did this video, and in the video he said, "I like this artist." He found my work, and he bought three of my pieces in one shot. They were probably like 5 Tezos each. Kids, back in the day five Tezos was still – Tezos was like $6 or $7 at one point, I think. That right there changed it for me. The fantasy is you have success and you make the thousands of dollars, and that happened to me too. So, that just kind of solidified any lingering doubt that I might have had.

But that first moment of making money through a medium that didn't exist in your life mere months before that. When I went into the Ethereum, and that went to the bank. At a time, it was Tezos. But when that exchange was made and I took my girl to lunch, and I said, "I just made 100 bucks or whatever.” That for me was when I realized it was real. Six months before that, if you told me I was making an extra $200 a month on this new thing, the idea would have been absurd, I imagine in most artists lives, some consistent money like that. 

[00:19:57] JB: And with relative sort of ease in terms of – obviously, you got to create the piece. But when you're actually doing it, you'd have to leave the room you're sat in now. I guess, probably you're sat in your office, your studio and you can just do it.

[00:20:06] FA: Yeah. It's all you too. It's not dealing with galleries, calling an agent.

[00:20:11] JB: You've given quite a lot back as well to the community, in terms of collecting across ETH, Tezos.

[00:20:18] FA: Too much. Don't say it. I don't think my girlfriend knows everything. Don't tell [inaudible 00:20:21].

[00:20:22] JB: If anyone's listening, pick up some Black & White Nights on the secondary, [inaudible 00:20:25] and pump some more back in.

[00:20:27] FA: I didn't intend to do that from the beginning. Thank the Lord after I paid my debts, and my bills, the timing of NFT's hitting could not have been anything is a mercy of God almighty. I needed it and I put everything together quite nicely. After all of that, being in NFT's every day, it's impossible you don't go to spend. It's impossible to not go. You start appreciating other artists, you start saying, "Wow! Look at this guy, look at this woman, look at this photo, look at these things." So, I started spending a lot of money.

I love the artist's work that I see. The medium that we have now with the social media to be able to, you see everything. Before, you had to go to a place, or hear from a guy, or go and see a magazine. Now, it's like the push of a button. I am comfortable doing it. My girlfriend's cool with it. I mean, contrary of me making jokes. I'm meeting just the most wonderful people along the way, man, like yourself.

[00:21:20] JB: I want to find out more about Picture This and are you trying to get on an official role? Is that the right term?

[00:21:26] FA: Yeah, I'm officially with them, they officially pay me and I'm the head of community partners. Yeah, that's a wonderful job. It started a lot earlier than recently. It was probably during the summer. I found out about Picture This through Whale. I am still an ambassador for the Whale Collective. They started to do a space or too, with Picture This, who I hadn't known about. Through Picture This, they asked Whale to send them some ambassador suggestions. Whale talked to me about it, and I was like, "Yeah. They seem to have their heads on straight and I'll go look at what you're doing." 

S then, I was a Picture This ambassador for a couple of months. They reached out to me, maybe September, something like that, that they were looking for someone to head their community, looking for someone to kind of tie their future together in NFTs and things. They were shopping around and asked me if I knew of anybody. I threw my name in the hat, they talked about it with a team and stuff, and then they offered me the job beginning of October.

[00:22:22] JB: Full-time? I mean, is it taking up a lot of your day?

[00:22:25] FA: It's one of those non-specific time jobs, like it's all online and it's all from here. They're based in Sweden, so everything I do is, I guess, technically at a distance. They gave me an idea of what they wanted to become, and I decided to work that many hours to help them to do that. In all honesty, I'm soaked in the online right now, I'm doing like 8 or 10 hours a day between my things and their things. But you know, I like it, man. I like working. 

[00:22:50] JB: It's good to be busy.

[00:22:51] FA: Yeah, it's good to be busy when so many don't have that opportunity and I also appreciate.

[00:22:56] JB: Can you just – for those who maybe don't know exactly what Picture This is, could you just give us a little overview for anyone listening, who maybe is like, "What are they talking about?"?

[00:23:05] FA: Yeah, of course, is an online community. Their mission is basically to make it easier for folks to come across good quality photography and to be able to buy it easily. What they wanted to do was they wanted to kind of move that world into the NFT space to represent high-end photography in the NFT space. What do we do, I guess my job basically is to get notoriety and to get some eyes onto the work of people who are already big in the Web2 sense as photographers, now into the Web3. So, I'm working with the artists I already have. A secondary part of that job is to find talent in the Web3 space that already exists, and try to get them to work with Picture This and do some good collabs together. Unofficially, we're working with Obscura on some things. Unofficially, we're working with some top tier photographers on some things. Those are all the things work in progress.

Officially, we've partnered up with KnownOrigin to release artists such as Bernard Lake, and Theo Gould and we have some others coming who were under the Picture This umbrella. We're working with Nifty Gateway to get a drop with [inaudible 00:24:18], who is a Swedish photographer of note. Officially, we are doing a deal with Spatial as a collab with a Sandbox to have a big Voxel event, which is actually this coming Monday at 7:00 p.m. Central European Time. It will be in the Spatial world, the metaverse. You can run around and meet some of the judges from that contest, and the Voxel winners from that contest, and then portal over into Sandbox's world. 

I'm basically just trying to do for them what I did for myself. I want to do something for other people. When Picture This approached me, I saw that they were providing support and spaces to talk about artists and areas where collectors could come and meet new photographers and maybe collect some work from them. I love that idea. I hope I can keep doing it under their umbrella as well. I love those jobs, man, teaching photography to people. It's a blessing to have it as an actual paid job.

[00:25:10] JB: You get that warm, fuzzy feeling from doing something good as well, the joy helps. So I want to find out a little bit more just about you as a person. Obviously, you're in Italy, as I think we've mentioned. You bounce around, obviously, but are you from New York? Is that home in the US?

[00:25:25] FA: Well, it's hard for me to say that. I'm a military kid. So, saying I'm from somewhere is very difficult. I was born in Seoul, South Korea. Let's start with that. My dad was based there. My mom went to visit, there I came. Months after that, we moved around between my dad. He was a ranger instructor in the in the military. Between his job, Atlanta, Georgia, Alabama, Los Angeles, Fort Benning, all kinds of different places.

[00:25:50] JB: You'd really throw people if you said you were Korean, wouldn't you with your accent. They'd be like, "What? You don't sound at all like I imagined a Korean person to sound."

[00:25:59] FA: Imagine how awesome it would be though if I spoke it fluently and had some kind of a thing like that.

[00:26:03] JB: I'd love to go to South Korea. I was born in Saudi Arabia, so I don't say I'm Saudi. I'm definitely English. I mean, I don't hold a passport from that land. 

[00:26:11] FA: But when you start that and people say where you're from, obviously, that's not it. So advance forward, you know. Then after the US, my mom got in the army, and then we were stationed in Vicenza in Italy and Germany, then we move later to Kansas. I guess my first real settled place was Kansas. Before that, I had lived everywhere two, three years.

[00:26:30] JB: How did you end up in Italy then? What brought you back?

[00:26:33] FA: The military. Yeah, at a certain point when my mom – my dad got out of the military, my mom got in because she learned English language, majored in English. She eventually –

[00:26:43] JB: Where's your mom from?

[00:26:44] FA: She's Italian. My mom's Italian.

[00:26:44] JB: Oh, your mom's Italian. Okay. I didn't realize it was Italian by blood. 

[00:26:48] FA: Excuse me. Yeah. My dad met my mom in Italy. She totally became an American citizen as well, had dual citizenship. When they asked her at that point of her career where she wanted to go, she suggested Italy, so she can be back where her parents were.

[00:27:00] JB: Oh, fantastic. 

[00:27:02] FA: We spent like six or seven years here in Italy, and then we went to Kansas. I was in Kansas all through college, and high school. Some of my high school is there, like six or seven years the same. Then, when I was 23, I moved to New York. That is why I tell people I'm from New York, because on my own accord, I moved somewhere for the first time in my life and I stayed there 15 years. 2015, I was traveling through Italy, man, just having a good old time. And I came across someone who said, "You know what, if you stay in Italy, I'd give you a job teaching." So, I went back to New York. I was there maybe three or four months, I just couldn't get out of my head and I was like, "All right. Let me go back to Italy. I'll stay there."

[00:27:40] JB: Do you see yourself leaving Italy or is it –

[00:27:42] FA: Definitely. 

[00:27:45] JB: You're a lifelong nomad, really then. You might spend a few years somewhere, but you'll –

[00:27:50] FA: To be honest, yes, I like bouncing around. I'll probably do it until my knees don't work anymore. I met a woman and fell in love with a woman who also has a love and a passion for travel. So, she lived in Mexico City 10 or 12 years. She's originally from Italy too. She's Italian. But she's been around the world, she's traveled all over with me. I think we still have that bug. I feel like somehow, at 60 or 70 years old, we’ll just make it to the motherland and be in Africa for a few years. You can't go there for like a week.

[00:28:20] JB: My cousin actually lives out in Mozambique, she set up life in Mozambique and runs a dive shop and built a hotel out there, like an eco-lodge and things, so I'm quite jealous.

[00:28:30] FA: You have no more excuses then. You got to go there.

[00:28:31] JB: They keep trying to get me out there, but I'm like, "God, I'm just so busy." And obviously, she’s my cousin and say like, "Well, the paid jobs have to come first” and it's pandemic and all this as well.

[00:28:39] FA: Yeah. That changed a lot of things.

[00:28:42] JB: So if you weren't a photographer, what would you be?

[00:28:44] FA: Radio. 100%.

[00:28:46] JB: Radio. 

[00:28:47] FA: I don't mention it a lot because it was a lot further back in my life, but I worked in radio all through college. I really love that job. I used to make remixes and work with editing tools, and would do live shows, and even DJ to nightclubs and stuff. When I moved to New York, I didn't have the opportunity to keep continuing in that career. I would have liked to, but it was just impossible to get a radio gig in New York or get DJing, paid consistent job in New York.

[00:29:13] JB: Well, I remember when I first came across you in the space. Like just honestly, didn't know what you look like, didn't know – I just here you talking. I'm like, "Damn man, this guy's got the voice for Spaces."

[00:29:22] FA: I used to do two different radio stations when I worked. The Drive at Five was one, where it was just all energy, all that driving home, music, energy, Top 40s kind of stuff. Then I had a night job at the college where it was like volunteer radio, which I got credit and stuff for it. It was all midnight hour, so you get a little closer to the mic, talk a little more.

[00:29:43] JB: I could definitely see you doing that like that, so that Midnight Hour, like the slow jazz or something is coming off, Fidel’s Slow Jazz Hour.

[00:29:51] FA: It was great. It was all like hip hop and R&B. I had an absolute blast with it though, man. It was hard to get up to go to class in the morning, sometimes. I stay in the radio to like five in the morning.

[00:30:00] JB: I could see you doing the hype stuff as well. I can see you do both ends of the spectrum as well, getting people high.

[00:30:04] FA: Yeah, it was a good time. I actually, I enjoyed that job.

[00:30:07] JB: What do you do to relax if you need to just destress?

[00:30:10] FA: I'm a big gamer, man. Yeah, big, big Xbox. I've been playing Xbox since Xbox came out. I wear it proudly because I'll destroy you. 

[00:30:21] JB: The only game I can play. I used to be good. I haven't played for years, is FIFA. I feel you've got some touch on FIFA.

[00:30:25] FA: Yeah. Bring it on, bring it on man. I'd be glad to intro you back into the world with a little ass whooping.

[00:30:30] JB: Oh, I'm might have to take that challenge. I might have to take that challenge.

[00:30:34] FA: Interestingly enough, it used to be reading. I used to read just an absurd amount of books, three, four books a month, for five books a month. I just love being in other worlds. My favorite author of all time, Piers Anthony, he created this world of Xanth, with an X. Just in this world, everyone who was born into the world had a special gift or power in this fantasy world. No one through the history of time had the same power, so everyone was unique and everyone who was born had a different variation of something. I just got lost in that world as a kid, and in my teens, I started to read the Lord of the Rings and all the different things like that. But at some point, it shifted, because I didn't have the time to work all day, and then read. I didn't like stopping the story in the middle and moving on. I just fell back on gaming.

[00:31:20] JB: That's a good way to decompress. Just get out of the world you're in. I was a big reader until – I've never been a big gamer, but reading was a thing. But then, yeah, once work takes over, kids, it was just like – I try now and I get maybe a paragraph in the books on my face and –

[00:31:33] FA: Yeah, the pages are all –

[00:31:36] JB: Yeah. It's like this book is getting quite tedious. I've done a page and it's taken me like three nights.

[00:31:40] FA: Yeah. That's a thing for me. It was the interruptions, you know. Now, if I have holidays, if I have time off a week, I know I'm not working. Yeah, I'm might get a good book. But if pick up a book and read a chapter a night for two weeks, I can't do that.

[00:31:51] JB: No, I'm the same. It has to – you get hooked on it, don't you? It's what I get.

[00:31:55] FA: Yeah. I mean, it's like trying to watch a movie 10 minutes at a time. Or I lose it, I lose interest.

[00:32:01] JB: So going on to the tech and the current state of the market. Have you seen anything recently that you're just really loving, whether it's just art or the way someone's using tech or just somebody like, "Wow, that's super, super cool what they've done there and how they've done it.” 

[00:32:14] FA: Six months ago, there would have been 10 answers to that. I really started to enjoy the burn-to-redeem idea, which was very cool to me. I started to see a lot of the edition choices. [Inaudible 00:32:26] did a thing where she had the one-of-one, and then the editions of the same one-of-one, which was very risky, but at the same time was very successful. You know, I love innovative moves. I don't want to sound –

[00:32:40] JB: This piece is going backwards.

[00:32:42] FA: But to be honest, the moves that I believe will be the best now are the two or three ideas I have for 2023. I'm not saying that because they're going to be whatever. I'm saying that because I know they haven't been done yet, and I believe that things that haven't been done yet are important for the space, because innovation creates the desire to go and try to be innovative.

A couple of months ago, I started to see the AR pieces, which were like a Waleed Shah has a lot of them. I have a few others from other photographers as well, where they have the photo, and then you can shine your phone through the app. Through Artify, you can show the photo, and then the photo has whole motion, and a movie and it takes on a different light. That was very innovative.

I think the contracts really is where it's at. I think the manifold type style of contracts that you can manipulate. When artists start to get into those kinds of things, which I again, I'm going to start doing for myself in the next month. I think, the sky's the limit, because every person is different and innovative in their own way. And I think even things that have crashed and burned, some of them were very cool. I haven't seen in the last three or four months something that I can honestly say, changed the entire market. Really, six months ago was I think the peak of innovation. Here's one, the AI, we'll say that. The AI six months ago was really, really new. But now, there are still AI things that are new every day, because all of it is different, depending on what people experiment with. If I had to say, the most innovative thing is the use of AI and the things that we're coming up with that.

[00:34:16] JB: It's something I haven't really delved into. Because for me, I'm just hell bent on as a photographer, that's what I love and capturing those raw moments and like you talked about, interacting with people and reading their faces, reading the moment, reading the light, whatever it is. It's something – but I do – I do look at these things and I'm like, "Wow! That is super cool." 

[00:34:32] FA: I can't say that I bought a lot of it yet. As a photographer, let me invite you to explore creation of images that you can personally take. When I started to get into that realm of the AI, then my mind was really blown. A young boy standing outside the A Sầu Valley in a time of peace, things like that. When you really start to get into an astronaut doing something somewhere on a planet, reality, but that you can't photograph. Then, it starts to play around with your mind a little bit, yeah, you have a little fun.

[00:35:08] JB: I accept there's a piece of art in there. Because if you delve deep enough into your mind, it's kind of like – if I could make this photograph happen, how would I – what would I need –

[00:35:16] FA: It's like visual fiction writing. If someone sits down and writes a monkey throwing a hand grenade at the warriors from the 21st century, we'll say, "Oh, that's great fiction." But if you do that to an AI, and you get a photo of that, then now it's not art, it seems kind of contradictory.

[00:35:34] JB: It’d be quite worrying to me as well. I would open up the depths of my mind. Other silly stuff comes out and it's actually recorded by someone. They're monitoring this, whoever. They're like, "Who is this? Do we need to watch him?" He's a danger to society. He just [inaudible 0:35:48] an AI recording.

[00:35:51] FA: What is this guy speaking every language in the world so he can pitch NFTs? What is this? This is not AI.

[00:35:58] JB: It's been absolutely awesome to talk to you, Fidel. 

[00:36:02] FA: Yeah, it's been a pleasure, man. 

[00:36:04] JB: Have you got any last thoughts or something you want to share with us that we maybe haven't talked about?

[00:36:08] FA: Yeah, I mean, it's been a great chat. You actually covered a lot of bases. Most people don't get this deep into my life. But now, I think we've had a good conversation. 

[00:36:16] JB: I could read people, I could see your face and I was like, "I know how to get him." 

[00:36:21] FA: No, I've had some wonderful conversation. [Inaudible 00:36:23] had me in the hot seat. That's one of my favorites, I guess, kind of interviews there, where she asked questions like this one. I never get to talk about Korea, and my life and my family, so I appreciate it.

I think maybe just pearls of wisdom, especially through this bear market are, that it's hard, man. It is hard to be an artist. It's hard to open yourself up to the world with creations of something that exist only in your mind. You know what I mean? It's hard to sell that and to do that for money. It's difficult to be present in social media, as well as your own life. It's difficult to keep up with the times, to keep up with the trends.

Be easy on yourself, don't take yourself for granted. Don't joke with yourself and say, "Oh, you're not [inaudible 00:37:10]." Just go easy on yourself. It's difficult. I think a lot of people get frustrated so fast, because we're able now in this time to see what other people are doing with social media, and to see how we've failed in comparison to 100,000 other people we've never met. But we're working, man, people here in a bear market like this. Brother, you're doing it. You know what I mean? You're out here interviewing people in a time where people only want to be online anymore, people don't even want to want to try anymore to create art because I haven't had a sale in two or three months.

But building and sticking to your own mental sanity while you're doing this, and at the same time raising kids and living life, that's hard shit to do. So, my pearls of wisdom, folks, is go easy on yourself sometimes. You're trying to make a business out of something that did not exist in the history of our world, two or three years ago. So love yourself a little more. Merry Christmas. There you go.

[00:38:01] JB: That's a great way. Great pearl of advice. This might come out after Christmas, so they'll think you're crazy, man.

[00:38:07] FA: [Inaudible 00:38:07] I hope you had a nice Christmas. I hope you had a Happy New Year. I hope your birthday was good. I hope your anniversary was a great time.

[00:38:17] JB: I realized that's how you can see the future, that like, that's how you get so good at this.

[00:38:20] FA: Put it out before next Christmas. There you go. 

[00:38:22] JB: Yeah, so we'll hold you back. But if the market conditions were the same and everything was just –

[00:38:28] FA: Oh, no. Don't say that, man. Don't say that. You'll jinx us all. [Inaudible 00:38:33]

[00:38:34] JB: No, it's a pleasure.

[00:38:35] FA: I really just want to thank you for doing this. Not because it's me, but because I believe when people have an opportunity to sit down and really go into other people's lives, and to share those experiences. Same thing I do with the radio, same things we do on Spaces. It humanizes them. When other humans see those experiences, and they learn that knowledge and those kinds of things, spreading the good news. Kudos to you, man.

[00:38:58] JB: That's what we've been going for. I thought it was helpful to see – you see people as very successful, once you start looking them as actual people and as friendships. [Inaudible 00:39:05], actually, this person doesn't know – we're all just as fragile as each other. Hopefully, it helps people realize even the most successful person.

[00:39:12] FA: [Inaudible 00:39:12]. Even now, the most successful people do what others. Even me, man, all day, I'm learning from others and asking questions, and in spaces, getting the vibe from new photographers, because stuff is constantly changing. So it doesn't matter who you are. It's an opportunity to learn and to spread the news.

[00:39:29] JB: Fantastic. That's a great place to end it on. I think we're great now. Fidel, thank you so much for joining me. It's been a pleasure. We can run it back sometime, but yeah, until next time, take care.

[00:39:38] FA: All right. Thanks. Thanks so much.