How Photographers Benefit from NFTs
Time to bust out all of those dusty hard drives you have photos saved on and turn them into cash. You know what I'm talking about, every photographer has hard drives full of amazing photos we've taken that haven't made us any money... Until now.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you have heard about NFTs. A form of digital certificate that somehow can sell for thousands of dollars. Artists, graphic designers, celebrities, influencers, and yes even photographers are among the ones creating these forms of digital certificates that become highly valuable overnight and can turn a profit in a relatively short time.
But, if the idea of NFTs still bugs your mind, keep reading to learn more about the question on everyones mind right now: What’s an NFT? and how does it benefit my photography?
What Are NFTs?
NFT stands for “non-fungible token.” This means each one is unique and cannot be replaced with something else. These are one-of-a-kind images or digital images that cannot be exchanged for something of similar value.
Each NFT is verified using the blockchain, a transparent ledger of ownership, purchases, and trades that no one can edit or see. Most NFTs are in the Ethereum blockchain, which is a cryptocurrency. However, there are different marketplaces and blockchains where NFTs are becoming more and more available.
While it’s hard to wrap your head around the value of NFTs, most people recommend you compare it to buying one-of-a-kind art pieces. Say, a unique Picasso someone found in an old garage in the middle of nowhere. It’s like the digital evolution of fine art collecting. You could also compare it to trading rare baseball cards.
Benefits of Creating NFTs
The most significant benefit for photographers making NFTs is money. Some photographers have earned over $25,000 from selling a single NFT photograph. Take Kate Woodman for example. Kate is a the Portland based conceptual photographer and NFT artist. Her cinematic style is centered around narrative storytelling, nostalgia, vernacular architecture, and a strong use of emotive color. She is also the creator of thebackdropstudio providing immersive backdrops for Photographers. Kate sold a NFT for one of her photos for 11.888 ETH...... That equals $27,854.30!!!
Even better, you get to maintain your copyrights over the image. This changed the way artists and creators make money from their work. There’s no longer the need for agencies, intermediaries, or other parties.
NFTs are designed to give the buyer ownership of the work, but the photographer retains copyright and reproduction rights. So, even if someone else owns the original art piece (NFT), you still maintain copyrights to the image. It’s a win-win.
Also, NFTs have an interesting feature for photographers. Just like trading sports cards you can trade NFTs for more bitcoin in the future. This means someone can buy an NFT of your work for let's say $200 and then sell it later for more if it becomes more valuable in the future. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because you can add a royalty fee to your selling price. This way you get paid a percentage every time the NFT of your photo is sold or changes hands. This means, if your NFT goes “viral” and balloons in value, you’ll still see some of that value and benefit from it.
Another great example is Bryan Minear, a landscape photographer based in Michigan, who did an NFT drop with Bitski featuring five photographs ranging from $200 to $2,500. Within 10 minutes, he sold out of nearly everything!
According to PetaPixel Bryan said “I was crying by the end of the day,” “It’s not like a life-changing money, but at the same time, when you go so long just creating for the love of it, and then you finally have that moment of validation, like somebody loves your work that much they’re willing to spend some money on it, it’s kind of incredible.”
Minear said the reason he chose to embrace NFTs was when he realized crypto was “here to stay” — despite speculation that the NFT market is a bubble at risk of popping.
However, he doesn’t see NFTs as a way to eliminate the potential of copyright, or the blockchain as a way to control the dissemination of his work online, but as a new opportunity to reach an audience that is passionate about digital art and willing to pay for it.
“I think that the biggest reason is that you can monetize yourself easier,” Dinch said. “There’s a market for photography, but with the proliferation of things like Instagram, where a lot of photographers are putting out incredible content and getting tons of likes, but haven’t been able to convert that into paying rent.”
Bryan sold this photo below for 3 ETH...... That's $7,033.89!!
Are There Any Risks Involved?
To be honest, NFTs have been around for a while, but people still don’t understand them fully. All new technology comes with risks and growing pains. For example, anyone can create an NFT. When someone makes an NFT from works they didn’t personally create, this brings up another set of issues.
There aren’t many specific laws explaining who’s liable for copyright infringement, what’s considered copyright infringement in the digital world, and how you can prove ownership of an NFT in the first place.
Then, there’s the tax issue. Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs require buyers to pay sales tax and pain tax gain when selling one. This is all new ground for most governments, so adjustments are being made yearly.
Finally, the marketplace itself has its risks. While rare, there are some reports of NFT collections vanishing from marketplaces without notice.
How to Make Your Own
Creating and selling an NFT is relatively easy, but setting the initial value and listing it in the marketplace can get tricky. Here’s a straightforward process to making and selling your first NFT as a photographer:
1. Create It: first, you have to create your photograph, GIF, video, or graphic. Alternatively, you can choose an image from your archives like I have to turn into an NFT.
2. Find Your Platform: there are different marketplaces for NFTs, including Nifty Gateway or SuperRare, but Foundation & Opensea are the most popular. I like Opensea because after the first gas fee you don't have to pay any more gas fees and Foundation is by invite only.
3. Decide Your Value: Pricing your work is perhaps the most challenging part. You decide the price of NFTs, but there’s no framework to work from. You could set the price at $10 or $1,000; you have the final call on how much you think someone will pay for your art. But you also have the option to set a price and let users bid on your work at auction.
4. Think of Editions: you can choose how many editions of your work you want to sell. It doesn’t have to be a single one. You could sell different NFTs of the same artwork. However, if you’re going to bid on higher prices, a one-of-a-kind piece will likely go for higher.
5. Decide your Royalties: not to quote Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank, but royalty fees will be your best friend. A royalty fee is a percentage you’ll get paid every time your NFT changes hands or gets sold.
6. Mint Your NFT: it’s time to mark your photo available for sale. Minting is the process of creating an NFT certificate and publishing it to the blockchain. This is what makes your photograph essentially non-fungible.
7. Get eyes on your new NFT: Learn from me, it's not as easy as throwing your work up setting a price and waiting for the bids to role in. Literally no one will see your NFTs unless you send people to your gallery in my experience, at least with Opensea. So use social media to promote the hell out of your NFT gallery and maybe one of your fans will drop 20K like Kates fan did.
There’s a lot of moving parts with creating, selling, and minting NFTs and lets be honest, cryptocurrencies are ever evolving but ideally, if you’re a photographer looking to benefit from NFTs and make some extra cash on epic photos you've taken that are just sitting on your computer, you should start learning and reading more about cryptocurrencies, which is the closest thing to a non-fungible token.
Author Lance A Reis
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