The photography industry is one of many that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Consistent work for photographers faded into oblivion as the virus gripped the world, majorly affecting photographer’s income streams and reducing studio budgets. On top of this, photographers faced difficult supply chain shortages, the shut down of exhibitions, events and trade shows.
It was around the same time that NFTs started their parabolic run and established themselves as a new digital asset class. Their ability to act as tamper-proof digital representations of real and digital objects garnered the attention of creators across the globe, leading many to try out the potential of NFTs with the hope of adding them as an additional source of income.
Recently, we saw a few NFT photography collections get mainstream attention. Twin Flames by Justin Aversano and Where my Vans Go by DrifterShoots inspired many photographers to join this space and make the most of it by creating their own NFTs. Both these artists had incredible stories that caught the attention of prominent collectors, sending the average price of their NFT to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s worth noting though that the growing trend of NFTs among photographers isn’t just about the prices of other NFTs or the hype around them. Instead, the rising popularity allows for several benefits that can aid photographers in this digitizing world.
NFTs Make Life Easier for Photographers
It’s not unheard of as to how NFTs have changed the lives of artists and creators around the world. The phenomenon has offered access to a global audience, allows creators a secure digital marketplace to sell the work without a middleman, and gives them the ability to earn royalties on every single resale of their work.
#1 Cost-Effective Marketplaces and Complete Ownership
Booking a studio or a spot at an exhibition to showcase their work in front of an audience to possibly make a sale is both time and cost-intensive. In the current saturated market, most photographers do not even stand a chance to make it to the top collectors due to their lack of recognition and exposure to the right audience.
That means real talent is very often suppressed due to a lack of much-needed financial support. While there are non-profit companies willing to fund photographers, very few photographers are ever able to access them.
On top of those challenges, photographers will likely have to give up their copyright upon the first sale, losing all control of how their work is used thereafter. And the cases of late payment from the studio that photographers entrusted their work to aren’t all that rare.
Such limiting factors are making it significantly difficult for artists to share their stories with the world and get sufficiently rewarded for it.
That changes with NFTs coming into the picture (pun intended). When a photographer turns their work into NFTs, they have full control and ownership of it that’s recorded on the blockchain. And as far as setting up auctions and exhibits are concerned, it isn’t even needed, thanks to digital marketplaces such as OpenSea, Foundation, and Rarible that offer photographers a level playing field to sell their photos as NFTs. All they need is to create an NFT and publish it on these platforms. Further, these platforms have a global audience of hundreds of thousands of active art collectors who are eagerly waiting to add yet another work of art to their collection.
With no middleman and third-party studios involved, photographers do not even have to give up their rights on the photos or share a major chunk of their earnings with anyone. This helps them maximize their earning potential.
We already have many user-friendly platforms such as Foundation and OpenSea that enhance artist profiles and guide them into creating their first NFT. These marketplaces are cost-effective because once the initial minting and listing fees are paid, photographers have no other costs to bear.
#2 Wider Social Community
For new photographers with limited budgets, the best thing to accelerate their growth would be to create a strong online presence. While social media definitely streamlined the process of branding for artists, it is still challenging to build a wider digital community where people resonate with your personality and fall under your ideal target audience.
In the NFT space, however, people always look to invest in the artist. It has very little to do with the actual art in the form of pictures. So when a photographer develops a strong online portfolio combined with an engaging community in the NFT space, people will look to buy into their work. Also, the competition is not as brutal as it is in the traditional industry, so photographers can leverage social media platforms to stand out.
Additionally, they have direct access to interact with other prominent artists in the NFT world. They can collaborate and create new collections to experiment in one of the most underrated market segments in NFTs: photography. While the collection may not sell immediately, it will add more credibility online within the NFT community.
We have seen how Justin Aversano became one of the biggest photographers in the NFT space. He shared his story with the online world in the most authentic way possible. And that has helped him create a massive community that is interested in NFTs. In the end, it helped Justin break record sales in photography history. Would the same be possible through the traditional way? Maybe. Has it been done using NFTs? Definitely, and with much ease.
#3 Higher Earnings with Royalties
In conventional sales of photographs, the artist will not make any commission above the market price or highest bid at an auction. So, it is not possible to create a forever living revenue stream for photographers by simply selling the same physical copy of their work. And without multiple income sources for a creative photographer, it can be tough to manage finances when times are uncertain and clients don’t have any more work to provide.
With NFTs, however, photographers can get a variable percentage of commission for every secondary sale in addition to the initial auction price. As most NFT marketplaces allow creators to deploy their own smart contracts while launching an NFT collection, they can set their own royalty terms in the secondary market. The largest marketplace in the world, OpenSea, offers up to 10% in royalty commissions for NFT artists.
Moving forward, it is very likely that we see NFT platforms enable cross-chain features in terms of transferring royalties. If that happens, creators will continue to receive commissions on secondary sales irrespective of the platform where their work is sold.
#4 Peak Scarcity with NFTs
It is much simpler to induce scarcity into a photographer’s work when it is in the digital form as NFTs than in physical prints. Photographers can issue a set number of NFTs and make it a limited edition collection to drive more value and get higher bids.
With physical prints, it is easier for anyone to make duplicates and claim to have ownership of the original copy. With the complexity of proving the authenticity of one’s work, it’s difficult to drive value. But photographers who choose to launch their work as NFTs can immediately raise the bar of ownership and authenticity with the help of blockchain technology.
As each NFT has a unique token registered on the blockchain, anyone can verify its legitimacy and scarcity. In addition, photographers get to set the terms of usage of their work and keep a track of them using smart contracts. That’s something that was never before possible.
#5 Larger Utility in Place
True ownership, global accessibility, and scarcity are a few things photographers gain by launching their work as NFTs. But the utility of a non-fungible token is limitless. There are many ways for photographers to leverage NFTs. The industry is growing so rapidly that we now have multiple platforms that offer specialized services like NFT fractionalization to distribute ownership and value.
Photographers can do the same with their best works. They can even issue tokens representing shared ownership. From a community standpoint, this will immensely help photographers to spur more engagement between community members.
Another way to look at NFT utility for photographers would be crowdfunding or raising capital in an open public marketplace. Using NFTs, photographers can acquire capital and pursue their dream projects. In the process, they can also create a revenue-shared model for all the token holders with other membership perks.
A perfect example displaying high utilities for photography NFTs is Shabangrs, a platform created by Peter Hurley — a world-class headshot photographer who aims to provide life-changing utilities for emerging photographers. Peter is offering exclusive perks such as Headshot Crew membership, private workshops, and in-person meetings for members of the Shabangrs community.
With NFT ownership, holders can showcase their work and interact with other community members within the Shabangrsville metaverse. In addition, NFT owners will automatically enter into various raffles to stand a chance to win high-end photography equipment, among other perks.
Future of NFT Photography
NFTs have bolstered the creator economy, and they’ve already become a major trend in the Web3 space. With more creators joining the NFT bandwagon and the word about NFTs spreading like wildfire throughout the internet jungle, any and all artists stand a chance to benefit from this technological marvel. And photographers remain no exception, as has already been proven by the many who’ve already made a fortune with NFTs.
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