In a space where nearly anything can be turned into an NFT, you can bet that the vast world of photography has a niche in the marketplace. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are representations (as a token) of almost anything. These tokens have no equal, no copy, and no comparative value, as they are unique.
The opposite of a fungible token, which can be traded easily for another token of the same value, NFTs have created an entirely new way of thinking about ownership, sales, and exchanges. Let’s take a dive into what precisely makes up these strange nodes of technology, and how photography fits into the new world order.
Table of Contents
The NFT Marketplace
To understand the role photography plays in a much “bigger picture,” (pun so very intended), it is best to first understand the overarching principles and technology behind the NFT marketplace as a whole. NFTs have come to be a representation of far more than a digital file. Industries from the world of art, to the practicalities of real-world ownership over things like real estate, there seems to be no end to the uses of the NFT.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the science behind an NFT and how they are used in cryptocurrency markets, as well as being behind what an NFT truly is. The main component of said tech is the blockchain.
How the Blockchain Works
A non-fungible token is made possible through the use of a technology called a blockchain network. A blockchain, in its simplest terms, is a decentralized digital ledger. It is shared across all users of the network, making it a public and transparent system.
The Definition of an NFT
When you break down the terms that make up NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, it can make more sense to the newcomer. A token is something that represents something else. If you think of this as a plastic chip in a casino, for example, it can make more sense.
The “chip” still has value within that casino. It is representing the cash you have placed in the casino’s care via a cashier. You traded in your dollars for plastic, not because the piece of plastic itself is so valuable, but because it represents another value, that of money.
Similarly, a token can represent nearly anything in the online world, from digital files, to “deed-like” proof of ownership, a token is used in online trading to represent an item, from the real, tactile world or the online one.
The term “non-fungible” simply means that it has no equal value. It cannot be copied, nor divided. It is unique. In the space of trading and exchanges, it means that there can be only one owner and that it can be transferred via sale or trade, but there is no copy of that exact same item.
Think of non-fungible as somewhat of a snowflake. It is said that no two snowflakes are alike. Each has its own unique pattern and design. While there can be many of them to make up a blizzard, each individual snowflake is still unique and different.
The Purpose of an NFT
In the NFT marketplace, the NFT itself has a wide variety of duties. From security to transparency, there is an assortment of responsibilities the NFT has for its owner.
Firstly, the NFT is a representation of ownership. It was primarily thought in earlier stages of the exchange that an NFT could only represent a digital file.
However, as the technology and uses for that tech have evolved, so too has the NFT. Today, the token can represent real estate, cars, collectibles, or even precious metals or gems. While digital itself, the item backing its value, or in other words WHAT it represents, does not per se have to be.
NFTs are made digital so that they may be traded and sold online, via the NFT marketplace. It would not be feasible to bring your private island itself to a worldwide sale, in a marketplace open to the masses. It is, however, managed to bring the token representing said island to the NFT marketplace.
The NFT remains a secure way to do business because of the aforementioned blockchain. The tech which makes NFTs possible also is the method used to keep it safe. The blockchain operates its decentralized public ledger to provide a transparent ledger of all comings and goings.
This transaction record is open to the users of the network. That network is a peer-to-peer format, which does not rely on any, one central authority. Rather a pillar of the crypto and NFT space, not having a single entity oversee the network’s transactions is a perk.
Instead, the network relies on its users to verify and secure information. While for some that may sound like more of a risk, the blockchain is an immutable tech, meaning that, once it is locked into a block, information cannot be changed by anyone.
Owning an NFT is having possession of its token. It is an immutable fact, as we discussed above, and by its very science means that only one person (or entity) can own an NFT at any one given time. NFT ownership is verified in the blockchain. You may have options to sell or trade your NFT, but you are the owner. No other person, nor central authority such as a bank or government, can control your ownership.
There is also a provided anonymity with blockchain technology. Because the blockchain is not monitored under the guidelines of a bank or government, it has a different rulebook (or lack thereof) that it follows. The main component of that network is to allow for anonymous users.
What Are NFT Marketplaces?
You hopefully have a baseline understanding of what precisely an NFT is and can be, but now what? What is the purpose of owning an NFT? Where do you buy them? Where do you sell them? And how does photography work into this system?
Let’s keep digging at these answers to better understand the role photography can play in the world of NFTs.
The NFT Market
Depending on the reason you wanted it, the ownership of an NFT can take many steps once it is acquired. It is largely the motivation that makes up where that NFT can go from creation to future longevity.
Owning for Fun
For some, owning the NFT is enough. They simply enjoy collecting them. They may have wanted a particular image for an avatar or profile picture. Maybe they just thought it would be cool.
Still, others collect NFTs for a sort of “bragging right” to up an Internet street cred. While that sounds odd, think of it as any other asset people acquire. Let’s face it. Sometimes, simply owning it is the goal. You don’t buy a Maserati instead of a Kia for the hell of it. While there may be arguable performance differences, some of the appeal is simply to say you own a Maserati.
Owning a Long-Term Investment
Others are less worried about what the NFT is and are far more focused on what the NFT is worth. You don’t have to love Twitter for example to own the founder’s first Tweet. Nonetheless, Jack Dorsey, the CEO, and founder of Twitter, sold his first tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million.
While bragging rights may have been a motivation, clearly there is a financial facet to this game, as well. Some purchase NFTs, at really any price point, simply to hang onto them. Like a rare coin in a safety deposit box, some purchase NFTs and hide them away, hoping that somewhere down the road, that same NFT will sell for far higher than the price at which it was purchased.
Of course, there is a major risk, as most investments include one somewhere, in that this is still a relatively new concept in investing. This marketplace has not had the long, tested history of the avenues such as the New York Stock Exchange (which, let’s face it, also had some tough crashes in its day).
While no investment is completely risk-free, diving into an unproven and new product can be tricky. Who is to say ten years down the line that NFTs will still exist at all, let alone go up in value? Still, many an investor is willing to take that chance, especially if newly deployed or dropped NFTs can be snatched up for free or next to nothing. With less risk of major loss by getting in early and at a low price point, new investors are willing to try it.
The NFT Marketplace: Buy, Sell, Trade
Similar to those seeking to make a long-term profit, there are still others that purchase (and sell and trade) NFTs on the robust marketplaces. These globally accessible exchanges offer a unique opportunity to anyone, at any age, skill level, worth, or talent to jump in on a new and exciting world of finance.
All it takes is a device and an Internet connection, and truly anyone can have access to such exchanges. From the novice wanna-be broker to the seasoned professional making a multi-million-dollar living from it, there is room for everyone in the NFT marketplace.
Here, NFTs are bought, sold, and traded, sometimes for a similar product, but oftentimes via cryptocurrency. As varied as the items an NFT can represent, so are the wide amount of markets one can select for making NFT transactions.
If you haven’t seen some of the big names out there, popular NFT marketplaces include:
However, that list goes on and on with new markets popping up daily. It is an ever-changing marketplace, and fresh faces are jumping onto the scene constantly.
While the access is plentiful, it is wise, especially for the newest NFT players, to focus on established exchanges when you first start out. Some of these bigger names in the NFT marketplace have at least some sort of proven track record, considering it is an industry still in its infancy.
While the laundry list of spaces to buy, sell, or trade an NFT goes on for miles, there are many a niche in the economy of NFTs, too. From NBA Top Shot, which focuses on the use of “Moments” in the National Basketball Association’s professional sports world, to the ultra-specific NFTs, like Larva Lab’s CyberPunks, which sells only its 10,000 unique and randomized digital profile headshots, some markets are narrowed in on a very specific purpose.
Sites like OneOf, The Musician Marketplace, and NFT Tone are some that exist strictly for the music industry. Others focus solely on sports collectibles, memorabilia, and video clips. If there is an interest for it, and hell, even if there isn’t, there is probably a very specific NFT marketplace geared at that interest.
They say that every pot has its lid, and the wide and varied world of NFTs is certainly no different. There are plenty of niche NFT marketplaces that can bring a focused look at any number of industries, interest groups, hobbies, or entertainment.
Let’s be honest. Who thought digitalized monkey faces would ever be worth a dime? Yet, here we live, in a society where 10,000 animated faces of “bored apes” net its founders millions.
Photography NFT Marketplace
With its vast variety, it is not hard to see how nearly any industry can stake its claim on the NFT marketplace. Photography is no different. In fact, photography is an art that makes a lot of sense in the NFT space, and that all stems back to its original goal and purpose.
For Artists To Be Valued
While the actual creation of the NFT and its corresponding marketplaces may not be truly known, one of its more endearing sentiments was for the NFT to create a revenue stream for artists. As most of you have likely heard the phrase “starving artist,” you should know that it is said for a reason.
It can be incredibly difficult to make money making art. Talents from painting and drawing, to music and video production, can not only be difficult markets to penetrate as a newcomer, but also extremely difficult industries to make money whilst doing.
One goal in developing technology like the NFT was to allow artists access to a paycheck. By eliminating the “middleman” (or many, many middlemen in some cases), an NFT and its marketplace can create a direct way for an artist to sell directly to a buyer, allowing them more profit.
Additionally, the marketplaces made such a possibility far more accessible. How often can you share your wares on a worldwide market to seek buyers anywhere on the globe, and all for a low or no cost to do so?
A Royalties System
In addition to greater access at lower costs, removal of the need to be “famous” to make money, and the elimination of the many layers of red tape involved, NFT marketplaces opened the door for many artists to not only make a name for themselves in the field but get a paycheck in the process.
One very unique stream of revenue not previously available in the traditional world of art. With the tech of an NFT, artists can make money not only on the original sale of a piece but on subsequent transactions, as well.
In a model much like the royalties paid to a singer each time a song is aired on the radio, an artist selling NFTs, thanks to a tech called the smart contract, can continue to earn passive income on works as they are bought, sold, or traded down the line.
Typically, the original creator is only given money in the initial sale. When original owners later sell or trade a piece on the market, that artist may not even know about it, let alone profit from it.
In today’s world, the artist can work online and sell a piece via NFT. As that NFT changes hands, a smart contract written into its code would allow the artist to gain access to the exchange, and thusly make a predetermined cut (like a royalty) on that sale.
Such a revenue stream rewards creators. By selling digital works, they are making more with each transaction, and not just on primary sales.
Why Have a Photography Marketplace?
When it comes specifically to photography, the NFT market is a unique opportunity for photographers to make money and track their works online. In the past, uploading your image to the worldwide web generally meant saying goodbye to that work. Once it was live and out there, nearly anyone could steal it, use it, and even profit from it, and you may not even know about it, let alone be able to fight it.
Since those early days of the Net, thankfully great strides have been made to allow photographers to remain in more control, and have more rights, over their works, not to mention profit from them. Today, photographers can easily upload pictures onto marketplace sites, such as OpenSea or Foundation, and have digital artworks minted in no time.
As a photographer, the minting of an NFT may sound like a daunting task but truly is not that difficult. Depending on the platform in which you choose to interact (we will get into that more soon), you will be able to upload your work with a fairly easy few steps.
Firstly, a digital wallet is required for interaction with these sites. We could delve into an entire epic novel based on digital wallets alone. But, here is the lowdown. You need a digital wallet, which holds your NFTs, cryptocurrency, and private keys (i.e. account access information), in order to interact at all with exchange sites.
Digital wallets will allow you to pay gas fees (the cost of doing business, making your photo into a minted NFT), any additional transactions fees, and best of all, to get paid. Once you have connected said wallet on the platform, you are generally able right away to create your digital art gallery and sell photography to your heart’s content.
Prepare for Gas Fees
Depending on the NFT photography marketplace you choose, and likely a big factor when you are comparing them, an NFT marketplace is going to charge a fee to do business on its site. That fee, to mint a photograph into an NFT, is called a gas fee.
Gas fees can fluctuate from as low as $1 to as much as $500 or more. This is a huge swing and should be a careful consideration when you are factoring in your NFT marketplace for photography.
Some sites offer a type of alternative called “lazy minting.” In these cases, the platform will allow the photographer to upload images, and will not charge for the NFT minting until the piece is sold. It is kind of like a “seller’s assist” if you are familiar with traditional real estate purchases.
Instead of footing the bill up front for expenses like closing costs, a seller’s assist (or in this case lazy minting allowance) allows the buyer to basically pay for those fees. The seller, in the case of real estate, “gives back” funds to the buyer so they aren’t left with the full bill. Likewise, once a piece is sold, a seller can use those funds (now given to them from a buyer) to cover gas fees after the fact.
Far easier to access than framed art hanging on the wall of a gallery, NFTs have not only become more popular and widely bought, sold, and traded, but are also much more accessible to the masses. Just like nearly anyone can become one of many digital artists, so too can one become a buyer of photography NFTs.
Whatever your choice for digital assets and investment, and for whatever your reason, a buyer too needs to have a digital wallet and connect to a platform that offers a photography NFT marketplace. This tool is necessary for all interaction with the NFT world and will be the ticket you need to start your collection in the NFT photography marketplace.
Popular Photography NFT Marketplaces
There are many factors that can go into the choices you make not only as a photographer but as a buyer of digital art. The list of marketplaces could go on for days, and remember, many general and popular marketplaces such as OpenSea, the biggest NFT marketplace to date, offer space for a photography NFT marketplace.
Sites such as these offer photography NFTs but do not do so exclusively. In other words, there is a lot of fish in the “OpenSea,” and not just photos. However, other sites specialized in particularly catering to the photography scene, only focusing on photos as their chosen NFT.
Platforms offering photography NFTs include:
- Quantum Art
- Nifty Gateway
Again, these platforms can also offer any number of other digital assets, but so too provide an NFT photography marketplace for artists and buyers alike.
An Unlikely Newcomer to the Scene
NFT marketplaces come and go from day to day. It can be difficult to keep up with the constant change in an already wild and often volatile marketplace. If you are just becoming familiar with the NFT world, learning these new NFT sites can be tricky.
When it comes to NFT photographs, much buzz of late is about a major player in the global news market suddenly making its appearance with NFT art.
The Associated Press
On Jan. 31, 2022, the Associated Press (AP) took a splash in the headlines all of its own, launching an NFT marketplace for photography. Collectors can peruse and purchase photojournalists’ works, including some Pulitzer-prize winning pieces.
Purchases made on this NFT marketplace for photography will allow ownership of the image to become that of the buyer, and no longer the AP nor the original photojournalist. Additionally, each NFT purchase will grant collectors access to the metadata associated with each photograph, including the time, date, location, equipment, and technical settings used.
The AP’s NFT marketplace for photography was built by a blockchain technology company called Xooa. While the future remains unseen on this new venture by the AP, its trusted standing in the news industry, coupled with 175 years of existence, will make this an NFT platform to surely keep a close eye on in the months to come.
A New Way to Sell Photos
If nothing more, the creation and growing popularity of the use of NFT photography shows that the art world is in for far more change than the Internet alone may have created. Collectors are no longer wandering art galleries sipping wine at an opening, but instead are opening a crypto wallet and checking out an entire world of photographers online, forming an art collection the likes no one has yet seen.
Yes, the world of crypto and NFTs is an ever-changing atmosphere of volatility and chaos. When tweets and monkeys go for the expense of an entire small country, it is certainly a market to keep an eye on for years to come. Where the space is headed is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for sure, there is far more to come from the crypto world.
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Continue to follow along the research-based and informative pieces at our site, and find the best marketplace advice for your needs, from NFT photography to a collection of pixelated frogs, there is no end in sight to this wild world.
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