Raven the Pirate, known for his exceptional EDC photography, joined us on the first episode of our new EDC Unlocked podcast to discuss his involvement and impact within the Everyday Carry community. He has been a huge part of our brand’s journey, sharing invaluable product insights along the way, which is why we kind of see him as an honorary team member! So, we’re thrilled to recap what Raven the Pirate (whose real name is Samson Tran) shared into his incredible journey so far.
The Advent of a Legacy in EDC Photography
Raven the Pirate has been involved in photography for almost a decade, primarily focusing on events, nightclubs, and concerts while at university. However, his interest in photography was much more deep-rooted; it dates back over 20 years ago when he began retouching other people's photos long before getting his own camera.
Finding Solace in Everyday Carry Photography
After starting a family, Raven’s focus shifted, and he found less time for his hobby. In search of something he could do for himself, he turned his attention to product photography. He decided to explore an area he had never ventured into before – Everyday Carry or EDC photography. He used Instagram as a platform to showcase his work, not with the intention of building a massive following, but as a personal repository for his creativity.
The Organic Growth of an EDC Community Maven
To his surprise, Raven’s Instagram account started growing organically. His dedication to consistently producing and posting high-quality EDC photography naturally boosted his follower count. This unplanned ascent up the ranks brought him to the forefront of the EDC community. By the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, his Instagram account began gaining substantial momentum, and so his work evolved as he embraced his newfound role in the community.
Raven the Pirate: A Catalyst for EDC Innovation
Beyond just EDC photography, Raven the Pirate played an essential role in product development within our own Holme and Hadfield community. He was always open to providing insights and feedback on product samples, and his opinions were (and still are) highly valued by Phil and Ian. His involvement helped foster innovation and fine-tuning of products that resonates with our customer-base of everyday carry enthusiasts.
The Origin of "Raven the Pirate"
Samson revealed that "Raven" is an inside joke between him and his brother. In Germany, there is a saying for really bad parents, which translates to "Raven parents," and since he was the black sheep of the family, his brother jokingly started calling him the "Raven Son" or "Raven Boy." The word "Pirate" was appended to his name as he sifted through various combinations in search of an available username. He settled on "Raven the Pirate" because of his affinity for pirates and outlaw-related themes.
Transition to Full-time Photography
Raven the Pirate made a career transition into photography full-time in March 2022. Before this change, he was a mechanical engineer, working for a company that designed and built test rigs primarily for the automotive and aerospace industries. Talk about a 360! However, as his passion for photography grew, he chose to jump into self-employment, not wanting to harbor regrets later in life for not pursuing his passion.
Advice for Aspiring Content Creators
When we asked Samson for advice for someone looking to break into content creation, especially in the EDC space, he highlighted the importance of consistency and perseverance. He remarked that in today’s instant gratification culture, people can become disheartened if they do not see immediate results. With a little patience and tenacity, anything is possible.
He also highlighted the necessity of distinguishing oneself amid the content deluge. When he started, he innovatively combined concept Photoshop work with EDC items, which brought him initial attention. As others began to emulate his style, he continually sought new avenues to keep his content fresh and intriguing.
Diving Into Short-Form Video Content
Samson also discussed his foray into short-form video content such as Instagram reels. He stresses the importance of adapting to new content formats to keep your audience engaged. By incorporating videos and bringing himself in front of the camera, Samson found a new way to connect with his audience.
Samson explained that video was not entirely new to him as he had previously created concert and event videos. However, short-form video was a format he had not explored much. He found it fun and wanted to find a way to use it effectively for his personal brand. Rather than following the mainstream trends of making dance videos on TikTok, he saw this as an opportunity to show a different side of his work. His main photography grid is dark and moody, but he wanted to break this mold and showcase a lighter side - that of a family man dealing with everyday life.
Embracing the EDC Community
When asked what he loves the most about the EDC community, Samson described his realization that there was a tight-knit community around EDC. He shared that when he initially started his Instagram account posting portraits and nature photos, people would comment but there wasn’t a sense of community. However, when he began posting content related to EDC, he noticed people were much more engaged, asking questions, and sharing their own experiences.
He adds that there is an incredible sense of camaraderie within the EDC community. Whether it is enthusiasts sharing their hobbies or recommending products, there is a genuine connection among the members. Even when he began working with brands, he noticed how accessible and approachable they were. He describes it as a breath of fresh air to have a community that is patient, understanding, and supportive.
Samson profoundly states, “you come for the gear and stay for the people,” which encapsulates his experience and the essence of the EDC community.
Do you pick your EDC gear based on what will photograph well or according to your taste?
He emphatically responded that taste always comes first for him. He shares that he would never photograph or showcase something that he does not personally like or have an interest in. He believes that if he chooses EDC gear based on his taste, then it should inherently look good as that is what appeals to him.
How Do You Stand Out in the EDC Community?
In an industry where content is being churned out relentlessly, finding ways to stand out is essential. The EDC enthusiast emphasized how his approach to staying fresh in the field has been centered around constantly experimenting with different elements like Photoshop composites, unique camera angles, and creating funny reels and skits. What drives this is his tendency to get bored easily, so he is always looking for new ways to keep his content intriguing.
How Do You Strike a Balance Between Brand Collaborations and Personal Investments?
When you are an Everyday Carry enthusiast with a substantial following, it's not uncommon for brands to reach out and want to collaborate. Raven mentioned that while he does receive products from brands, he is selective in what he accepts. His main priority is authenticity, and he doesn’t want to receive something that will not be used or appreciated. Additionally, he still invests in buying items, especially higher-priced ones.
What's noteworthy is that he mentioned that he never reached out to brands asking for free stuff. If he loves something, he buys it. This honesty and authenticity in relationships with brands and the audience are important. Sometimes brands would reach out to him after seeing how he utilized their products, which is a more organic and authentic way of collaboration.
How Does Your Love for Photography Impact Your EDC Content Creation Process?
Photography plays a major role in the EDC community, particularly when showcasing different items. For this enthusiast, the love for photography has always been about the process. He speaks about how much he enjoys experimenting with various aspects such as lighting, angles, and compositions. His workflow involves a lot of pre-production, where he visualizes the image and sources all the elements needed to execute it.
Being mostly self-taught, he believes in continuous learning and experimentation. He advised other aspiring photographers to shoot everything and anything to learn and improve. The instant feedback one gets by changing a small element in the photograph can be incredibly gratifying and helps in understanding how to achieve desired results.
Besides Knives, What is Your Favourite EDC Gear?
While knives are a significant part of his EDC collection, Samson also has an affinity for coins and pocket tools. Coins, he says, are more like tokens of support or friendship and are fun to collect. Pocket tools fascinate him, especially due to his background in mechanical engineering. He loves to see the innovation and craftsmanship that goes into creating these tools.
How Do You Balance Your Passion with Your Personal Life?
A humorous note in the interview was when Raven joked about how he manages to balance his EDC passion without it affecting his personal life, particularly his marriage. He mentions that his wife is very supportive, and as long as his passion doesn’t lead them to live under a bridge, it’s all in good spirit.
How To Start Your EDC Gear Collection on a Budget?
Embarking on your EDC (Everyday Carry) journey doesn't necessarily have to come at a hefty price tag. The EDC community comprises numerous brands and makers that create high-quality gear at affordable prices. Brands like CRKT and CV offer budget versions that won't make your pocketbook cringe. You can find good-quality knives for under $50 or even $30, while pens from Parker or Zebra will only set you back a few bucks.
You might be surprised to know that you can put together a complete EDC kit - pen, knife, pouch, pry bar, and a small multi-tool - for less than $70. And remember, there's no rule that you need to have every possible tool in your EDC collection. If you don't see a use for a multi-tool, for example, don't include it in your kit. Focus on assembling an EDC gear collection that suits your needs and fits within your budget.
Most Nostalgic EDC Gear?
Personal stories and experiences often influence our attachment to our EDC gear. For Raven, it's his second knife - a Bo Keon designed by Lucas Burnley. This knife is not only a practical tool but also a significant token of his entry into the EDC world and the community.
How To Grow Your Instagram Following?
Growing your Instagram following isn't something that happens overnight, and there's no magic formula. Consistency and authenticity, however, always pay off. Try different things, learn what works for you, and double down on those strategies.
Predictions on The Future of the EDC Space?
The future of the EDC space will likely involve advancements in technology, new mechanisms, and new materials. But at its core, the items we carry - knives, pens, multi-tools, flashlights - will remain the same, albeit in new iterations. As manufacturing processes become more efficient, we might also see an influx of high-quality products in the budget range.
And remember, the EDC world is all about community. Whether you're just getting started or you're a seasoned collector, don't hesitate to reach out, ask questions, and share your experiences. Connect with Raven on Instagram at @raven_the_Pirate - he’s always up for a good chat! In fact, he prides himself in responding to every DM and comment!
Raven the Pirate emerged as an unexpected hero within the EDC community. His passion for photography found its true calling in EDC photography. Through consistent effort, high-quality content, and an unyielding commitment to the craft, Raven cultivated a community that continues to thrive. His insights and contributions go beyond photography, making him a celebrated figure in the world of Everyday Carry.
If Samson can go from a mechanical engineer to a full-time photographer in the EDC community, it is a testament to what can happen when you follow your passion with perseverance, consistency, and continuous innovation. His advice to budding creators is to remain consistent, think outside the box to stand out, and engage passionately with what they are doing.