What is NFT Photography?

As NFTs infiltrate every aspect of our lives, we’re left to question whether it's helpful or just hype. We examine the pros and cons of the utilization of NFTs for all photographers. Are NFTs for your photography a worthwhile investment?

What is NFT Photography?

NFT Photography

NFT photography has been around since 2014, but with all the recent hype, it has lured creators around the world, many of whom are trying to profit off the space. The main idea of NFT photography is for creators to earn higher revenue, investors to diversify their portfolios, and overall to enhance the cryptocurrency and Web3 space.

There are many lucrative opportunities for an NFT photographer since some NFTs can sell for as much as $1.11 million. One of the most expensive NFT to date is Everdays: The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69.3 million. Some of the top NFT photographers include Aimos Vasquez, Randall Slavin, Matty Furious, and Elise Swopes.

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Famous Photographers

Photographers in the NFT space have the potential to earn large profits in the best-case scenario. Here are a few examples of NFT photographers who have been able to create a name for themselves and found success in this industry.

Randall Slavin

Randall Slavin is a legendary photographer in Hollywood, debuting his first exhibit in Paris in 2008. The beginning of his photography career was by fate; one day he wandered into a local photography store and made friends with the owner during his break as a gas station employee.

Since his early days, Slavin has made quite the name for himself and is now an accredited photographer in both the NFT community and Hollywood. One of his most known projects in the NFT space is his collection of two photographs picturing Chris Cornell at his final photoshoot before his death in 2017. The project is called “The Last Session” with the two photos independently titled, “Until We Disappear” and “White Roses for My Soul to Keep.”

These two images were never seen before and were released in honor of Chris’ death. Slavin and Cornell had a close relationship and Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, gave Slavin the blessing of minting these photos to immortalize Chris’ memory. Proceeds of the collection were donated to Phoenix House California, a charity and rehab center that Cornell supported throughout his life.

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Elise Swopes

Elise Swopes Elise Swopes is another well-known name in the photography community. She is an artist, a name-brand collaborator, and an NFT creator. Originally, she was most known for her work with surrealist urban landscapes on Instagram which has paved her path toward becoming a digital entrepreneur. Her work in the NFT community typically consists of a city photograph that she then distorts and adds abstract edits to.

What started as a side hustle, has now amassed over $200,000 in profits with her first-ever NFT sale accounting for over $17,000. As one of the most successful Black artists in the space, Swopes makes an effort to support other Black artists in the community and gives back to the people that have supported her.

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Freelance Photographers

Freelance photographers make up the majority of the NFT photography community. However, they are mostly lesser-known, meaning it is harder for them to make the same levels of profits as these accredited photographers.

Although, this is not to say that no freelance photographers have ever made it big in the space. For example, a 22-year-old Indonesian college student sold a collection of NFT selfies he took every day for over $1 million.

Typically, freelance photographers looking to sell their images as NFTs will post their work on marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, and LooksRare. These artists make money whenever their work is bought and traded, however, it is much harder for freelancers to gain momentum and hype around their artwork compared to more well-known photographers.

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How To Sell Photos Online

If you are a photographer looking for ways to sell your photos online, here is your guide.

Stock Photos

Selling stock photography has been one of the more traditional ways for photographers to make money online. You can do this on a variety of different websites like Alamy, Shutterstock, iStock Photo, and more. Artists will generally make on average $.02 per image a month and professionals will earn around $.05-$.25 per image a month. You can expect to make around $100 a month by selling stock photos but you have the potential to earn anywhere from $100-$500 per month on average.

Since profits are based on commission, income can be inconsistent at times but there is limitless potential. However, as a seller on these websites, you may need to pay a licensing fee which typically is around $30. This is because if someone wants to use your image to promote a product or use it for anything marketing related - you will need a license that permits this type of commercial use. This price fluctuates depending on what industry and country you want to operate in. Signing up for these websites though is quite simple and you can start selling your images within a day.

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NFTs

NFTs are non-fungible tokens, better known as digital assets. Essentially anyone can make them and almost anything that can be turned into a multimedia file can be sold as an NFT.

As a photographer, selling NFTs may be a better opportunity than other options like selling stock photos. When you sell stock photography, you are selling the license of the images’ use, whereas, with NFTs, you are selling its ownership. With stock photography, you are allowing unlimited uses of your photo which can dilute its value; however, with NFTs, you can create scarcity, thus increasing its value.

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How Do You Make NFTs?

As a photographer, NFTs are a great way to have more control over your art. Here is a quick guide on how you can turn your photography into an NFT.

What Platforms Can You Use?

To sell an NFT, you will need to do so on an NFT marketplace. There are a variety of different platforms to choose from, the top ones including, OpenSea, Foundation, MakersPlace, Rarible, and SuperRare. Some of these platforms are curated and require an application prior to minting a piece. Signing up for these marketplaces is quite easy, and can usually be done by simply connecting a digital wallet. The most commonly accepted digital wallets are MetaMask and WalletConnect. Once your wallet is connected, you will be able to begin uploading your image files and post them on the marketplace as an NFT!

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What Is The Process?

Once your account is set up, it is time to begin the process of uploading your images. This is fairly intuitive and is done the same way any other file is uploaded onto the internet or email. From there you will want to create a name for your NFT, a description, and choose which blockchain to upload it to. Make sure there aren’t typos before minting your piece. Once minted you cannot change the text of the description or title. This will result in you having to burn the image, spend more gas fees, and reupload the image to correct the typo.

There are a few ways to customize your NFT by adding properties, levels, stats, and even unlockable content. It is important to note that to upload your file, you may have to pay a fee, also known as gas. Gas prices will vary by upload.

Once out on the marketplace, users will be able to start minting. Technically, minting is the process of creating a block on the blockchain, validating information, and recording that information onto the blockchain. In simple terms though, minting is essentially the process of you creating the NFT and then users buying and trading your NFT. Once people begin minting, that is when you will begin to make revenue from your NFT.

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Pros and Cons of NFTs

NFTs are a great opportunity for photographers to make a profit and have more control over their artwork. However, before you decide to make NFTs, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Con: Cost

One con to selling NFTs is that you will need to pay to upload your files into a marketplace. Depending on the platform you use there may be additional fees to gas like site fees, listing fees, or creator account fees. Gas fees will depend on the size of your collection as well as the current supply and demand between the network’s miners and users. Furthermore, it is important to note that uploading your NFT does not guarantee it will sell or be seen, meaning there is a risk of losing the money you spent to upload it. You will need to market yourself in order for you to be visible to collectors and the community.

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Pro: Pay Structure

A benefit to selling NFTs is the pay structure. Not only will you get the money from making your initial sale, but you also have the potential to continuously profit off your work if it is being constantly traded. Artists can set up an auction and customize it to their liking for customers to bid against each other. You can even set up a minimum amount to start the bidding, to ensure the fees you paid to post your work are covered. Furthermore, you can set up your NFT to pay royalties.

This means that every time your NFT is bought or sold you will receive a percentage of the price. This allows the original creators to be compensated for their NFT. Do take note each platform will take a certain percentage from your total sale.

Con: Environmental Impact

Another downside to NFTs is that they are extremely energy-intensive to create. Typically you will see NFTs being minted through a proof-of-work method which requires a lot of electricity. With any energy-intensive process, there are environmental concerns about adding to the atmosphere's CO2 emissions. However, proof-of-stake has become a more environmentally conscious way of minting NFTs. Those on the Solana blockchain will be utilizing a proof-of-stake process and those on the Ethereum blockchain will be utilizing a proof-of-work process. Recently though, Ethereum began the transition of going from proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake process, making these transactions more environmentally conscious.

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Pro: Visibility and Security

Thanks to blockchain technology, artists now can see every sale and resale of their work. This provides transparency between artists and sellers while minimizing the room for fraud. In addition to transparency, selling art in the form of an NFT can also guarantee that the artists will get paid since you cannot counterfeit crypto. Furthermore, with NFTs, an artist’s work will become immortalized and fully traceable which gives artists more control over their artistic property.

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Conclusion

All in all, NFT photography is not a scam as long as one’s expectations are managed. For unknown or freelance photographers, it may be harder to gain recognition and make millions since thousands of NFT photographs are created every day. However, as a freelance or unknown photographer, this is a great opportunity to gain visibility and create publicity for your artwork.

However, be sure to not spend money you don’t have in anticipation of becoming a millionaire overnight. Minting and gas fees can quickly erode profits for smaller photographers so be wary of how much you are willing to put up front before making any rash decisions. Be sure to join the community, ask questions to fellow photographers, and take notes from other experienced people who have been in the NFT space before minting.


FAQ

Q: Where is the best place to sell pictures online?
A: Currently the best places to sell photographs online are on Foundation.app, OpenSea, Rarible and SuperRare. SuperRare you will need to apply to, since it is a curated platform.

Q: Can I make my photograph an NFT?
A: Yes, essentially any photograph can be turned into an NFT.

Q: Why are NFTs so expensive?
A: NFTs generally gain value based on their inherent characteristics, utility, the strength of the community, as well as any underlying projects linked to the metaverse.

Q: Can anyone make an NFT?
A: Anyone with a digital wallet, crypto, and digital media can make an NFT.