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Photography & NFTs: All You Need To Know Before Getting Started

Photography & NFTs: All You Need To Know Before Getting Started

NFTs in photography are just gaining momentum - for photographers and those interested in buying photography NFTs, it's a perfect time to learn a bit more about how it all works.

Until now, one of the biggest struggles for digital artists was keeping track and protecting their intellectual property from being used without permission, shared all around the internet without credits, or duplicated left and right. This is where NFTs saved the day.

NFTs brought the term "ownership of the artwork" back into the digital world, and it seems to be reshaping how digital artists, including photographers, can sell their work and better manage their rights to it.

Wondering how well photography and NFTs go together and what would you need to do if you wanted to sell your photos as non-fungible tokens? Keep reading this post to find out.

Can a photo be an NFT?

It’s not that difficult to get lost in the sea of Bored, Mutant, Baby, and Stoned Apes, CryptoPunks, various cats, birds, and bears, but there’s so much more to NFTs.

NFT photography is not that popular yet, and there are not that many massively successful photographers in the NFT space, but the answer to the question can I sell photography as NFT is definitely a YES.

Just like any video, GIF, music piece, or anything else you can come up with can be an NFT, a photo you or anyone else made can also become an NFT.

Photography category on OpenSea NFT marketplace

Selling prints vs. selling photography NFTs

To better understand NFTs in photography and how it all works, let's compare the process of selling NFT photos and selling physical art, in this case, prints of your photographs.

When you make the comparison, you can quickly notice that selling photography NFTs is very similar to selling physical art; only with NFTs creators are now more in control of their artwork.

Selling prints

For instance, to sell a print, you have to go through a few steps. First, you have to select an image or the selection of images that you want to sell. Second, you decide on the edition, meaning how many prints will be available for purchase, or, in other words, decide on scarcity. Then, you make sure that the print has your signature, edition number, and a certificate of authenticity – the latter is very important for understanding NFT photography.

Creating a certificate of authenticity is a good practice for any photographer selling their artwork and crucial for people who buy it. It is a document that assures a buyer that the work you’re selling is an original and it is really you who created it (without it, there’s a risk that the prints you send to the world might be reproduced without your permission).

To put it another way, people who purchase your photograph and have a certificate of authenticity can prove their ownership and the artwork's authenticity. Which brings us to NFTs…

Selling NFTs

To sell any NFT, including photography NFT, you have to go through very similar steps.

You select the artwork, choose the platform where you want to sell this artwork, decide on scarcity, price, and start minting your NFT, which, in a physical art world, could be referred to as creating that previously mentioned certificate of authenticity. Just with NFTs, you “create your certificate of authenticity” by putting a record of your artwork on a blockchain. Doing this lets you establish the ownership of the art piece and determine how many editions of your photo will be available for purchase.

So when you think about it, blockchain and the surge of NFTs made selling digital photographs a lot like selling physical prints. Besides, blockchain makes something that has always been impossible possible – photographers (and digital artists in general) can then keep track of who buys and owns their artwork, which sounds… Pretty cool, right?

At this point, you might probably think: "Okay, so someone owns my art piece, do they also own the copyright to it?"

No, they definitely don’t.

Think of it this way – someone buys the print of a photograph you made. It's theirs – they can hang it on the wall or sell it to another buyer, but they don't get the rights for commercial use, for instance; unless you agreed on this before completing the purchase.

So it’s the same with NFTS – you still have all the rights to your artwork. The buyer simply owns the piece, can display it, and can also sell it to someone else – since there’s a record on a blockchain that they own that one specific edition of your NFT.

How to sell photos as NFT?

Now that you know how photography NFTs work, you probably want to go more into detail about selling them.

No problem – see the steps below. Let's start by setting up a crypto wallet and choosing the platform, assuming you have already decided on the specific artwork you want to sell as an NFT. Keep in mind that depending on the marketplace you choose, the steps might vary a bit, but those are the key ones you'll have to complete at one point or another, no matter the platform.

Step 1: Set up a cryptocurrency wallet

A cryptocurrency wallet is a must-have if you want to get into selling NFTs. It is the key to connecting to marketplaces and is also essential for receiving payments for your art pieces (and, of course, paying network fees).

If you have one – great; otherwise, it doesn't take too long to create one, so make sure you do it in advance.

Step 2: Choose your platform

When you're getting started, one of the main questions is where to sell NFT photos?

Technically, you can do it on your own, but it's a lot more complicated, and, at least in the beginning, you’d want to join one of the NFT marketplaces that already has an audience interested in buying artwork just like yours. They all have different rules and benefits, so check them before creating your NFTs.

Creating a new NFT on Rarible

A few of the best NFT marketplaces for photography to get you started:

  • OpenSea
  • Rarible
  • Foundation
  • SuperRare
  • Nifty Gateway
  • Mintable
  • Zora
  • Portion.io

Step 3: Create a new item following the requirements

Once you connect your crypto wallet to the NFT marketplace of your choice and click that magic "create" button, you will be asked to fill a few fields that determine some important details about your artwork. Such as:

  • Name – the title of the artwork that the audience will be able to see.
  • Description – you can tell a story of your photograph, share how it was made, what it means, provide additional details, or anything you want.
  • Price – usually, you can choose a fixed price, make your artwork open for bids, or create a timed auction. Some marketplaces can also ask to set the price after minting an NFT.
  • Supply – you’ll have to select how many unique pieces will be available for buyers (scarcity).
  • Royalties – royalties vary between marketplaces (e. g., you can choose up to 50% on Rarible but only up to 10% on OpenSea). This is the percentage of the price you get if someone resells your work.
  • Etc.

Step 4: Mint and list your NFT

The last step is to mint your NFT, or in other words, transfer it on chain. What you need to know at this phase is that you will likely have to pay gas fees for minting your NFTs (and in some marketplaces, for listing it as well), but different marketplaces offer different options for this.

For instance, on Rarible, you can enable lazy minting, which means that the buyer will be responsible for paying these minting fees, not you. It also means that your NFT will not be minted at the moment of creation but at the moment of purchase. It will still be listed on the marketplace like any other NFT. You can, of course, do it the "traditional" way and pay the gas fees yourself.

Completed NFT creation on Rarible

Step 5: Make a sale!

Now that your NFT is created and listed on your chosen NFT marketplace, the only thing left is to wait for someone to purchase it.

Bonus for inspiration: Justin Aversano

Justin Aversano is an artist and creative director who already knows what it means to sell NFT photos and earn good money from them. He is best known for his collection called Twin Flames. It features 100 sets of twins in different locations worldwide, which were created in honor of Aversano's fraternal twin.

In 2021, the collection was sold for 0.55ETH. However, later that year, Aversano’s NFT for Twin Flames #83. Bahareh & Farzaneh Safarani (and all 100 physical prints) was sold through Christie’s auction for a record-breaking $1.11 million. But that was not it yet.

In November, Twin Flames #49. Alyson and Courtney Aliano was purchased for 871ETH ($1,578,095.22 USD at the time of writing), becoming one of the most expensive photography NFTs ever sold.

Justin Aversano's Twin Flames
Twin Flames #83 (left) and Twin Flames #49 by Justin Aversano

Are NFTs the future of photography?

Crypto space is very dynamic, and it's not so easy to predict the future. However, the opportunities that NFTs bring to photography are definitely very new and exciting.

The market is oversaturated already, and it's getting more and more difficult for photographers to enter the space and start earning profit from their work. NFTs can open the door to new audiences with a different mindset, ready to support the art they appreciate and acquire valuable digital assets.

Moreover, NFTs can be significant for commercial photography, reducing the chances of photographs being used differently than agreed before, thanks to smart contracts.

By tokenizing a photograph, a photographer makes it unique and rarer; they also can prove its authenticity, making all existing duplicates worthless. Not to mention royalties for secondary sales and retaining full copyright of the artwork – many licensing agreements “offer” just the opposite.

So doesn't NFTs sound like the best thing that has ever happened to digital artists? Maybe, time will show; as for the rest – it’s there for you to explore!