Why Photography is Becoming the Next Big Genre of NFTs

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In the digital age, photographers often have to contend with unsolicited distribution of their images without permission, credit, or financial return for their work. Now that NFTs have entered the mainstream, this dynamic is set to change.

Words by URTH HQ

NFTs were established in 2014 but it wasn’t until 2021 that they hit the mainstream. The art world was the first to embrace this new frontier and now, photographers are taking an interest. Photography looks to be the next big genre to hit NFT marketplaces and we’ve already seen this trend establish itself with photographers like Justin Avasaro and his Twin Flame series, which sold for 1.11 million and broke a record at the time for the most expensive NFT ever sold.

What is NFT photography?

NFT photography is an evolution of photography where creators enjoy more recognition and financial benefit from their work and are able to exist outside the model of distribution networks online, or traditional gallery spaces to promote and sell their art.

The basics

It’s best to begin with a basic understanding of NFT art, but in a nutshell, a non-fungible token is something that’s one of a kind. The Mona Lisa for example, is non-fungible. As is your home, or birth certificate. It’s something that can’t be replicated or broken down into smaller, valuable parts like you could with a 100 dollar bill. Therefore, a non-fungible token is a digital certificate acknowledging that an item is one-of-a-kind.

Sceptics highlight the fact that when Beeple sold his $69 million piece of digital artwork in March of 2021, anyone could screenshot or download the image. But taking a screenshot of a piece of NFT art is like taking a photograph of the Mona Lisa; it’s not the real thing, and it doesn’t indicate ownership.

The technology behind blockchain makes it physically impossible to falsify, hack, or alter ownership of an NFT. This means that when someone purchases an NFT, it becomes indisputably theirs.

NFT art can be almost anything. Traditional artworks can be ‘minted’ as NFTs, as can digital artworks, photographs, GIFS and even films. Essentially, anything that can be made digital, can become an NFT.

How do photographs become NFTs?

Photographers can enter the NFT market by setting themselves up with a profile on an NFT marketplace, minting their photos (turning them into NFTs) on either an NFT platform or their chosen marketplace, and putting them up for sale, or auction.

Photographers have a number of options during this process.

They can search for curated marketplaces, where there is a system in place to pick and choose what kind of artwork is listed for sale. While this does add a barrier for entry, it also means that their work will be shown amongst other high-quality images, rather than being one of countless on an open market.

Creators can choose to sell their NFT photographs as one-off’s as part of a limited edition run, or as an unlimited edition work.

They can also opt to add copyright laws to the image as part of the NFT trade — offering more value to the buyer since they become the sole owner.

Photographers can either choose the standard 10% royalty they’ll gain from every onward sale of their NFT photos after their original sale, or change the fee to something that better suits their goals.

Why photographers are interested in NFTs

Photography has a unique set of challenges compared to other art forms, due to social media and the difficulty of monitoring distribution in a world where reposting photos without permission or credit is so common. NFTs offer an elegant solution to these challenges.

Ownership and authenticity

When a photographer mints a photograph as an NFT, it essentially creates a certificate of authenticity for their work. It says “I made this, and no matter where it ends up, it will always be verifiable as my own original work”.

Traditionally, a photographer has not had this kind of control due to the ease of distribution of images both online and offline.

And as Medium’s Vincent Tabora puts it: “In the world of content creation, unauthorised distribution of content can really affect a photographer or artist’s income.”

Peer-to-peer sales

With the advent of NFTs and NFT marketplaces, photographers can access these online decentralised platforms where they’re able to sell directly to buyers.

This means no middleman, no requirement to get picked up by a gallery, and better connections between artists and their supporters.

Protection from forgery

The greatest artists in the world could do an excellent job of copying the Mona Lisa, to a point where the average person could never tell the difference. Fortunately for the Mona Lisa, it is famous enough for forgeries such as this scenario not to be an issue.

For other artists and creators, as well as investors and collectors, forgery is an issue of genuine concern.

NFTs are created and stored in a way that guarantees authenticity, this platform creates its own inherent protection from forgery that benefits both creators and investors.

Ongoing rewards for exceptional work

When an actor stars in a film or TV show, they’re often paid an initial paycheck, but when the content goes on to do well and enjoy success over the years and decades to come, they can stand to earn much more through royalties.

The cast of Friends famously earned $1 million each by the end of the show’s original filming. But thanks to its ongoing popularity and endless re-runs, they now earn as much as $20 million each per year simply through ongoing royalties.

Yet for other creatives, the initial sale is the end of the road when it comes to their earnings, even if their work goes on to become extremely popular and valuable. Any further sales of a traditional piece financially benefit only the person selling them.

With NFTs, photographers benefit financially when their pieces increase in value. Marketplaces build in a 10% royalty for every sale and creators can set their own fees in some cases as well — so no matter how many times the work is resold, they will always receive ongoing royalties for creating the work.

Guaranteed scarcity and authenticity for collectors and dealers

Now that collectors and art dealers have a verifiable way to ensure the authenticity and scarcity of their works, there’s mounting interest in investing in fine art.

Previously, the challenges and complications around proving authenticity have made these investments more risky for these interested parties — but with the assurance that NFTs provide, interest is booming, and it’s benefiting everyone involved.

Career progression

Thanks to growing interest from dealers and investors, easier entry options to the market, and more scope to turn their passion into a lifetime career, photographers finally have greater opportunity to advance their careers.

How to mint your photograph as an NFT

Minting a photograph on an open NFT platform is a reasonably easy and straight-forward process. 

The basics of minting your photograph as an NFT include:

  • Researching NFT marketplaces to choose the platform for your goals
  • Set up an account and purchase cryptocurrency
  • Upload your NFT photograph
  • Mint the NFT (you’ll need to pay ‘gas fees’ using your cryptocurrency here)
  • Set the NFT’s information, such as price, and explanation 
  • Confirm or finalise your listing 

The process of minting an NFT is simple, fast, and easy for something that offers such huge potential rewards for photographers. 

The best NFT photography marketplace

Since the NFT market has exploded over the past couple years, some marketplaces have become more specialised to certain niches — with some opting only to list digital artworks, GIFS, or photographs. 

For those looking to list their work or invest in NFT photographs, a number of marketplaces have become known for their quality, ease of use, and leadership in the field. 

Here are five of those marketplaces: 

OpenSea

The world’s largest NFT marketplace for photography, with more than 4 million items listed at any one time. It offers a clear, simple user experience, along with tutorials for those new to the industry. 

SuperRare

SuperRare has the unique proposition of only listing one-of-a-kind items. This means that if you plan to sell a photograph as an NFT — you’ll only be selling it to one buyer. The marketplace simply does not offer limited or unlimited runs, driving up the value and rarity of each piece. 

Ephimera

This marketplace is dedicated to photography and videography NFTs. Applications to join are only available at certain times, so there is an exclusivity to this platform that helps to increase value for buyers and sellers who are able to join. And like SuperRare, Ephimera only offers 1/1 editions. 

Mintable

Mintable may be attractive to photographers as it has a ‘gasless’ structure, where you do not pay a fee to mint your NFTs. While there’s a lot of different artistic mediums on Mintable, photography makes up a significant portion. It’s an attractive option for those looking to take their first steps into the NFT world and learn the ropes without paying fees for minting. 

Portion

Portion is a dedicated NFT photography marketplace, with the unique proposition that allows creators to keep 100% of their proceeds. There’s an application form to join, which requires evidence of a portfolio for photographers — but this does mean that the quality of work is generally very high, attracting more investors and collectors to their marketplace. 

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Urth HQ

2022-08-29T05:23:31+00:00Categories: Art|Tags: , , |