It's difficult to read any tech news without seeing something about non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Every business now seems to have an NFT promotion or tie-in. Non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies are also becoming a staple for gamers. Even on late-night talk shows, you see celebrities announcing a launch or token purchase of their own. Photography has been slower to get into NFT's but photography NFT is a very real marketplace for all photographers and artists.
Everyone is getting in on the act. It's enough to make non-techs feel like they're missing out on something big.
However, not all news regarding the latest addition to the blockchain is good. As with all trends being hyped around the clock on digital platform after platform, this technology has been ripe for exploitation and scams.
Bored Apes, record-breaking sales, and celebrity endorsements aside, this technology shows amazing potential for business and the arts. If you're a photographer sitting on the fence, fighting off FOMO, we're here to shine a little light on the technology and the possibilities it holds for artists.
What is an NFT?
Despite what you see on the internet, non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, are not art pieces. They are digital signatures that live on the blockchain.
Before your eyes glaze over at the prospect of reading a bunch of tech jargon, let us elaborate further as simply as possible.
Fungible tokens are essentially cryptocurrencies. They can be exchanged for another item of similar value. For example, trading one Bitcoin or ETH for another is an even trade of value-for-value. Ten dollars in the real world is still $10, whether you trade bill-for-bill or two fives for a 10.
Non-fungible tokens are digital representations of specific tangible things, such as artworks or signatures, that are unique. You can't trade one NFT for another because the certificates represent different things that are not equal in value. Although they reside on a blockchain, NFTs can be tied to unique, real-world assets like art or real estate.
In other words, the digital representation you see online is not the NFT. The digital certificate that validates and secures the visual object is a non-fungible token tied to the representation you see.
Blockchains act as digital ledgers that record and store information in blocks. These chains cannot be broken or copied, nor can individual nodes be sold or traded without the consent of others on the chain.
Each node on a blockchain becomes part of a tamper-proof smart contract. All other participants in that chain recognize the unique identifiers and metadata describing that asset and enter into an agreement that it is real and assigned to a specific entity as the lawful owner. Anything that is not attached to that node is inauthentic.
Technically, someone could copy/paste an image on the internet and use it for whatever purpose. People do it every day with memes and videos. But, without that digital signature that ties the visual representation to an authenticated transaction, the chain will not recognize it as valid.
The implications for photographers and other creatives who must display their work online are huge.
Advantages of Converting Photography NFT's
We all know how the internet works and how easy it is to just right-click on an image and take it – one might even say steal – your work. By converting your photography into an NFT, you're validating it and securing it from fraud and theft.
Someone can still right-click and copy/paste an image. However, the blockchain will not recognize the item or any related financial transactions as authentic, nor the person posting or selling it online as the lawful owner of that representation.
Even if you don't create digital art, it's increasingly difficult to showcase and market your talents without a web presence. However, you run the risk of someone downloading your work and selling it offline unless you secure it by converting each piece as an NFT.
By turning your photographs into NFTs. You can safely and securely showcase your art online and sell it without going through an agent or other middleman. This creates a new level of trust and transparency and gives artists more control over their work.
When you tokenize your work, you'll be able to:
- Secure immediate payment between yourself and a client or dealer
- Guarantee funds before finalizing a sale
- Set the terms of each transaction
- Assign rights, grant permissions, or dictate how your work can be used
- Grow your brand and reach a wider audience
All the transaction information, including rights and responsibilities, becomes part of the token. Nothing outside of that is considered valid or binding. Think of it as an unbreakable, traceable digital copyright.
You'll know if someone steals or uses your work without that digital signature. Any copy of other representation of that unique print is fraudulent.
You can also create higher value for your work through managed scarcity. Value is created by creating a desire for an object. For example, you can create a limited number of prints, tie each to a unique electronic signature, and auction it digitally to the highest bidder.
If you include a stipulation regarding royalties into the transaction, secured on the blockchain, you'll receive a cut every time the image is sold or reproduced. You'll also be able to track every transaction related to that NFT. There are no auction houses or dealers that need a cut. Any profit from the sale is yours.
This makes it easier for smaller, unknown artists to compete with bigger names and allows you more granular control as you create art and manage your business.
The Downside of Photography NFT's
As I mentioned earlier, any technology has a downside, especially when insane amounts of money are involved. Knowing about the possible risks allows you to identify and avoid them.
There have been crypto-threats in the past, and a range of unscrupulous people populating this digital space. For example, dozens of crypto platforms and dealers have emerged in the wake of record sales, and each of them promises untold wealth if you just invest in their latest currency or NFT. Many of these projects never see the light of day, and the proliferators of such schemes disappear into the ether.
You can avoid this issue by dealing with reputable platforms and dealers with a proven track record. For example, Bitcoin and ETH are the most stable cryptocurrencies at the moment, so keep this in mind when choosing a digital wallet.
How to Mint and Manage an NFT
Technically, anyone with an internet connection could mint an NFT. As things stand in 2022, few people outside the crypto space have the tech knowledge or resources to independently create an NFT.
You need to find someone to mint it and a platform from which to offer it for sale. Various NFT marketplaces offer NFTs to investors, but first, you must create something tangible to sell.
Creating an NFT From a Photograph
The first step toward turning your photographs into NFTs is to open a digital wallet with a reputable platform. Cryptocurrency is the only means of funding NFT trades, so you'll need a wallet that deals in the currency of your choice and purchase digital coinage with a card or via bank transfer.
Anything can be minted as an NFT, but you're going to create specific works for an offer through tokenization or select from your catalog for suitable works. Since most photography is digital, you only need to have the selected works minted to create an NFT.
Minting and Listing Your NFT
Your next step is to locate an online platform that can mint your NFT and add it to the blockchain. As of now, the most widely known and reputable is Opensea.io. The average cost for minting is between 10 and 100 Ethereum or 20 – 30 Bitcoin.
Beware of blockchains that charge an ongoing fee for the minting and offering your NFT for sale. You should also understand that once you've chosen a blockchain for your NFT, the transaction is permanent and irreversible. Research and choose wisely.
Once you've chosen a platform, you'll need to connect your crypto wallet to your account. Then, you will upload your work to the platform for minting. Make sure that everything is detailed beforehand.
When you upload your file, you're going to include:
- The name of the piece
- A meta description of what the image contains
- Royalties and other contractual terms
- Properties, such as file size and dimensions
The price should not be part of the data attached to the digital certificate if you plan on auctioning the NFT. You can set an initial starting bid or drop-dead price. You could also create a firm asking price for immediate purchase, similar to eBay's “buy it now” option. But, don't set the sales price into the certificate.
Remember that anything added to the blockchain cannot be deleted or changed!
Building Your Online Brand
Once your NFTs are minted and offered for public sale or auction, you need to grow your audience. Ideally, you should have already begun marketing your work on social media and your photography website.
The bigger your online following is before you mint your first NFT, the easier it will be to build momentum and grow your brand once you launch your first digital artwork.
You can capitalize on the popularity and ROI associated with NFT investing to generate interest in your work. If you create enough interest, the NFT gallery where it was minted will also feature or promote your work.
Outside, marketing your photography works the same as any digital marketing strategy.
The first and best place to showcase all of your collections is on your website. It should be SEO oriented so potential clients can find it when searching for photography or NFT art investments.
Who are your potential investors? You should picture an ideal person interested in your work. For example, wedding photographers would target their marketing content to couples. Artistic photography can be marketed to anyone from home stagers to art collectors. Those interested in collecting NFTs as investments are an entirely different audience that requires a specific approach.
Create a separate landing page for each piece. Best practices dictate 10 – 50 landing pages, each targeted to a specific persona or audience segment.
Populate social media platforms and online spaces where your audience congregates. You can create a slideshow of your work, showcase individual images on visually oriented platforms like Instagram, create shorts for YouTube or TikTok, and interact with potential buyers on forums and online communities.
Use keywords, tags, and hashtags your audience would use when searching for photography or NFTs to purchase.
There are several online platforms that deal in NFT photography. Curated marketplaces like Soika and SuperRare accept salable artists on an individual basis. You'll get more reach with a qualified audience with these platforms, but you must be approved before acceptance. You'll also be able to increase the value of your work through perceived exclusivity and quality.
There are also open marketplaces, like OpenSea, where anyone can upload and mint an NFT for sale. This might be a good proving ground for an unknown or someone new to the NFT space.
Now that you understand a little more about what NFTs are and how they work, you have a chance to leverage the potential of this amazing technology to grow your brand. Our goal is to help artists like you reach more clients and protect your assets in the digital realm. Photography NFT's should be another string to your offering.
We'll focus on providing the platform so that you can do what you do best: create amazing photo's and art.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much does an average photograph sell in the NFT space?
Every artwork tokenized on the blockchain is unique. Meaning you cannot judge the price of one by the other. However, in terms of a general view of all NFTs, it’s established that the average price of an NFT photo on OpenSea is $500, while on Mintable, it goes up to $900.
- Apart from photos, what other items can be tokenized as NFTs?
Apart from photos, NFTs can represent artworks, real estate, in-game avatars, music & media, memes, real-world assets, domain names, virtual fashion items, event tickets, and so on.
- Are NFTs a good investment?
Yes, NFTs are good investments. However, there are risks therein. NFTs are one of those High Risk, High Reward investment types.
- How can I make money from NFTs?
The easiest way to make money from NFT is through flipping. That is, you buy at a lower price and resell when the value goes up. Just like stocks.
Other ways include minting (creating) your NFT and then selling at whatever price you want. While lucrative, this method involves a lot of work and factors to consider.
- Where can I buy an NFT?
This article was provided by Uday Tank, who is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader and serves the international community at Rankwisely. He enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.