(Last updated on July 22nd, 2022)
You may have heard of the word NFT and Fungible floating around and wondered what the hell they mean. This is because NFTs are taking the world by storm and I think that NFT photography in particular has a huge potential. If you are looking for a new outlet to sell your photography, this could be the guide you need. Below, I explain what NFTs are, what NFT photography is, how to start your collection, and what benefits this type of photography could have for you.
- What are NFTs?
- What is NFT Photography?
- How to Get Started With NFT Photography
- Pros and Cons of NFT Photography
- Frequently Asked Questions
Before we look at NFT photography, we must have an understanding of the underlying technology. So let’s look at what NFTs are.
NFT = Non Fungible Token
This literally contributes nothing to your understanding.
Non-fungible means it’s unique. An NFT is unique. In contrast, something like a bitcoin is fungible. If you traded 1 BTC for 1 BTC, you would have exactly the same item.
However, if you traded a #1 LeBron James Holo Icon NFT for a #2 LeBron James Holo Icon NFT (See my NBA Top Shot love below for context) you would have something completely different and in theory, with a very different monetary value.
NFT = A Unique Digital Asset that can be bought, sold and traded using Blockchain technology
A simple comparison could be with Baseball trading cards or Pokemon cards. However, the scope for NFTs expands way beyond things like that. There are NFTs for music, videos, drawings, and photos, for example. The industry is continuously expanding.
The draw of NFTs is their uniqueness and their potential value. There are well-known NFTs that have sold for millions of dollars. NFTs also appeal to collectors.
You may still be confused and the above definition may not have helped. I get it – NFTs can be hugely confusing. So let’s dispel that confusion and look at some real NFTs that you can buy today. These are some of the most popular and coveted NFTs of all time:
- NBA Top Shot: I am a huge NBA basketball fan since childhood and I am heavily invested in the NBA Top Shot NFT. This is a platform where you can buy historic “moments” from real NBA games. The product is licensed by the NBA, and the NFTs are individual video clips and artwork. I absolutely love the platform and it’s fun to use. You can trade NFTs, complete sets, and complete challenges using your collection. The potential is huge and some of the moments are worth ridiculous money. For example, the top sale of all time is a Lebron James moment that sold for $230,000.
- Bored Ape Yacht Club: The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a series of 10,000 unique randomly-generated images of apes with various outfits and accessories. This is one of the most successful NFTs of all time and some apes have sold for millions.
- Cryptopunks: Like the Bored Apes, Cryptopunks is another legendary NFT project that has 10,000 unique randomly-generator images of pixelated characters. The artwork is cool and retro, and people pay stupid amounts for characters with unique traits and backgrounds.
- Azuki: Azuki taps into anime-style artwork and culture and has 10,000 unique characters with different accessories like samurai swords, glasses, and different colored hair. Currently, the total sales volume of Azuki NFTs is 254k ETH ($290 million!).
- Dribblie: This is a new and upcoming NFT that looks to be incredibly popular. Dribblie lets you buy and own unique space-age football players who you can then use to play matches against other competitors and earn rewards to bolster your collection.
NFT photography is essentially collections of photos that have been turned into NFTs.
Instead of buying a LeBron James NBA video clip, you could buy, for example, a unique image of the Taj Mahal at sunset.
NFT photography is another avenue where photographers can sell and share their work.
Photographers create NFT “collections” of their photos. These photos are then minted (with a set supply) and placed on NFT marketplaces for people to buy.
I’ll give a theoretical example to explain it better.
- I create an NFT Photography collection called “The Frozen World”.
- Within this collection, there are 50 photos of places like Antarctica, Greenland, and Svalbard.
- Each photo is unique and there is only NFT 1 available to buy (50 in total).
- The collection is listed on the Opensea NFT marketplace.
- People can look at the collection and buy the 50 NFTs using cryptocurrency.
You can see the appeal? It could be compared to an artist creating a limited set of 10 original paintings and selling them at an auction.
A photography NFT is essentially a digital photo that you can sell and create a limited supply of. In the scenario above, I could set the supply of each photo to 50 instead. This could mean more sales, but oftentimes the popularity of NFTs is due to their scarcity. Buying a 1 of 1 photo is much more impressive than owning #43 of 50, for example.
Think of photography NFTs as a new way to promote and sell your work. For example, you may sell physical prints and canvases of your photos. You may also have an online store where people can buy digital copies of your work. Photography NFTs could be a potential further source of income and as you will see below, some people have hit the jackpot too.
We’ve dissected NFTs and what they are. We have also looked at popular NFTs that appeal to collectors worldwide. But how does this translate to photography? For a visual explanation, I have listed 5 popular and interesting photography NFTs below for you to look at:
- Where My Vans Go: Possibly my favorite photography NFT is “Where my Vans Go”. This shows the power of NFTs and the story they can tell. This is a series of 124 photos that document the creator’s travels across the USA. However, virtually all the photos involve some death-defying stunt such as standing on the edge of a skyscraper or a suspension bridge. The NFTs are impactful and unique and it’s easy to see why the floor price (lowest price) is 48 ETH (Approximately $55,000).
- Beautiful Cities of the World: There are many renowned photographers who have also created NFT photography projects. One such notable person is Treey Ratcliffe. His “Beautiful Cities of the World” has a total sales volume of 493 ETH (At the time of writing – $565,000). The photos use his iconic HDR style and feature legendary cities like Istanbul, Cairo, Beijing, Bangkok, and Los Angeles.
- World Wonders: This NFT project is a set of 50 gorgeous photos of various wonders from around the world. The photography by Jacob Riglin is astounding. Examples of NFTs include Polar Bears in Canada, the Singapore skyline, aerial photography of London, and the Great Blue Hole in Belize. I could spend hours looking at these stunning images, and they have sold for a total volume of 172 ETH (At the time of writing – $200,000).
- Bikes of Burden: I love the premise of this photography NFT collection and it showcases the creative potential of this branch of NFTs. Bikes of Burden is a collection of 130 images taken by Hans Kemp that show motorbikes in Vietnam with various bizarre cargo like doors, tractor tires, and carpet rolls. These photos tell a story of life in Vietnam in an interesting and unique way. The lowest value piece is currently listed at just under $1000.
You should now have a basic understanding of NFTs and NFT photography. But how do you create an NFT and what is involved? I have created a simple 5-step process below:
Step 1 – Understanding Your Niche
The starting point is deciding what NFT project you want to create. This is often the most difficult part. For example, I have a Lightroom catalog of over 12,000 photos spanning a decade of photography. How am I meant to pick a collection of photos from that?
The key is to find a niche and pick a theme.
Step 2 – Creating a Collection of Photos
Once you have decided on the theme and name of your first photography NFT, you need to create the photos.
First, I recommend deciding how many photos you want in the collection. Go for quality over quantity. For example, let’s say you have chosen a theme of Iconic Skyscrapers. You have over 100 photos that could be used. However, are all 100 truly iconic and amazing photos? Be selective and only pick the best and most appropriate images.
If that means the collection only has 25 images – so be it. It doesn’t matter. If it proves successful, you could always launch an Iconic Skyscrapers 2!
With your photos selected, simply export them as high-resolution JPEGs into a standalone folder. I would recommend exporting them in a large resolution so they can easily be scaled. Also, use a separate folder so you can manage your NFT photography easier.
You now need to buy some cryptocurrency and create a cryptocurrency wallet. This is because the minting process costs gas fees which you need to pay. Think of a gas fee as a transaction fee. Each time something is added to the blockchain, you have to pay the people who process the actions.
There are many cryptocurrency exchanges where you can easily buy currencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin without much crypto knowledge. I recommend using one of the following platforms to purchase your crypto:
I use Coinbase and have a mobile app for my smartphone too. It’s incredibly easy to use and you can deposit fiat currency using debit and credit cards.
Once you have registered with a crypto exchange you then need a wallet too. I would advise creating a MetaMask wallet. This is a secure and free service and most of the popular NFT photography marketplaces like OpenSea support MetaMask.
You need a wallet to facilitate your cryptocurrency transactions. Think of the crypto exchange as a traditional bank or financial institute – this is the place you get your money (crypto). The crypto wallet is then like your physical wallet or your PayPal account – where the money (crypto) is stored to use.
You now have your NFT collection and theme. The photos are created, and you have a crypto exchange account and a crypto wallet. That’s literally all the pre-planning and work involved. The final stages are to register with an NFT marketplace and mint your first photography NFT!
There are many NFT marketplaces. Some are specialists such as NBA Top Shot. However, some are generic and accommodate hundreds of different NFT genres. You want to choose one of these generic marketplaces. The following are the most popular NFT marketplaces for photography:
I would recommend Opensea as this has the largest active user base. It also caters to NFT photography and has a dedicated Photography Category. Here you can easily browse through the different projects and also gain inspiration for your creations.
The general process, once you have chosen a marketplace, is to register an account. In most instances, you also have to enter your crypto wallet address. This is a vital step as it will allow you to pay gas fees, and to receive payments when your photography NFTs sell.
I advise writing your crypto wallet address down but offline – in a notebook or piece of paper, for example. This ensures you have it to hand if you need it, and prevents the chance of account fraud.
Step 5 – Minting Your Photography NFT
Now comes the exciting part – minting your NFTs and launching them on the marketplace! (Minting is the process of adding the NFT information to the blockchain and setting an active supply of the NFT so people can view and buy them).
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Creating an NFT Collection
The first step is to create your collection. This is the overall “container” that the individual photos are part of. Think of this like a set or a gallery for example. Opensea has a collection creation process that is straightforward and includes the following steps:
- Uploading a collection logo
- Adding a featured image
- Adding a banner image
- Giving the NFT collection a name
- Adding an external URL if there is one
- Writing a description of the NFT collection
- Selecting a category that the NFT falls under
- Setting financial info like creator fee and which blockchain to use
I would recommend looking at other photography NFTs so you can get an idea of the text and logos they use. You can gain inspiration and also look at appreciate formatting etc.
Once you have created the parent collection, you can then create the individual NFTs. Most marketplaces have a “create” function. This has different steps and allows you to mint your own NFT projects. For example, Opensea has a relatively straightforward creation process shown below.
The basic process includes:
- Uploading the photo
- Giving it a unique name
- Entering an external website if you have one
- Writing a description of the NFT
- Adding it as part of your NFT collection
- Setting the supply number (How many are to be minted)
- Choosing the blockchain (I recommend Ethereum)
Once you have done this, you can create it which will put the transaction on the blockchain and you will likely have to accept the gas fee using your crypto wallet.
Pros and Cons of NFT Photography
Now that we have discussed NFT photography, it is important to understand the pros and cons. I have summarized these below:
- Greater visibility for sales: When anything is on the internet, it automatically has far greater visibility than the physical world. The same could be said for photography NFTs. Marketplaces like Opensea and SuperRare have vast userbases with hundreds of thousands of collectors. This means your work can get noticed easier, and have a greater chance of being sold.
- Low entry requirements: While there is an amount of work involved, creating a photography NFT is much easier than selling photos traditionally. You don’t need a website or a printing service. There are no delivery requirements, and you don’t need a payment provider either. Everything is done via the NFT marketplace which means anyone can create a photography NFT collection.
- Limitless potential: Photography NFTs are highly versatile and have virtually unlimited creative potential. You could create limited edition sets of specific themes. Alternatively, you could create long-term projects that follow your photography adventures.
- Can sell a single photo multiple times: When minting a photography NFT, you decide the mint count – or how many copies of the photo can be sold. This gives you flexibility and means you could profit multiple times from a photo. Alternatively, you could create a 1/1 edition size and try for a higher profit due to scarcity – the choice is yours.
- Low overhead cost: Compared to selling photos traditionally, NFT photography has virtually no overheads. Your only costs are the gas fees for minting and selling the photography on an NFT marketplace.
- Crypto requirement: One of the main drawbacks that put people off is the involvement with cryptocurrency. I completely understand this. For many, crypto is like this big unknown scary thing that’s mentioned on the news occasionally. As a result, some people are hesitant to go anywhere near anything that involves things like Ethereum and Bitcoin.
- Finding a niche: The key to NFT photography is creating something unique that grabs the user’s attention. You would likely not have any success simply creating an NFT project of your random photos. NFT photography is part photography, but part collecting. Therefore, you need to tap into both aspects and produce something that is photographically appealing but also has value to collectors.
- High competition: As with traditional photography, the NFT photography world is highly competitive. There are hundreds of other NFT projects available. This can often make it difficult to stand out and get noticed.
- Price fluctuations: Lastly, as NFTs are usually tied to cryptocurrency, the prices and profitability can be highly volatile. Cryptocurrency fluctuates wildly compared to fiat currencies. As a result, the products, projects, and technologies that use it can also be subject to price fluctuations. For example, you could have an NFT photo listed at 0.5 ETH on Monday which is worth approx $500.00 USD. On Friday, however, the price of ETH could have plummeted by 50%. This would mean that the same 0.5 ETH is now worth only $250.00.
I hope you have found this guide on NFT photography useful. As an NFT collector myself, I find this branch of photography incredibly interesting. I also feel that it has immense potential and could transform the way that professional photographers sell and profit from their work.
The relative ease of accessibility and the fact that anyone can create a photography NFT is a huge plus. For example, you don’t need to create a portfolio website or an online store. Also, the fact that you can sell multiple NFTs from one photo is also fantastic. This drastically reduces your overheads in contrast to selling traditional photographic prints and canvases etc.
Admittedly, some people may be put off due to cryptocurrency involvement. But providing you use a reputable crypto exchange like Coinbase, there is no reason why you can’t easily purchase Ethereum to start your NFT photography journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally speaking yes. NFTs utilize blockchain technology which is incredibly safe and highly transparent. All transactions relating to NFTs are publicly visible and have non-repudiation of data. This means that fraud is virtually impossible. The main potential issue is people creating scam NFT projects simply to try and steal your money – do your research to avoid falling into traps like these.
Technically yes. The same can be said of any digital visual product. However, simply print-screening a photography NFT would not give you anything of value or ownership of the item. You would essentially just have a JPEG image. The value in photography NFTs is the ownership and the contract created when you purchase or sell one.
Usually yes. Some NFT projects accept fiat currency for purchases. However, NFT photography from marketplaces like Opensea is typically purchased using crypto like Ethereum.
Yes! That is the beauty of NFTs – they are accessible and available to anyone. Providing that you have original photography, and create an account with an NFT marketplace, you can create NFTs.
Opeansea is generally regarded as the best photography NFT marketplace. It has a dedicated section for photography and a vast active userbase. It is also one of the most reputable and popular platforms in existence.
First, you have to have a photo. Second, you ideally need some cryptocurrency like Ethereum. Next, register an account with an NFT marketplace like Opeansea. Marketplaces like Opensea typically then have a “create” section that takes you through the minting process.
Paul Skidmore is a freelance photography blogger and writer. He has a life-long passion for travel and photography that spans decades.
Paul took an interest in photography in the late 2000’s when he started solo traveling. His first camera was a Canon PowerShot SX220 HS which accompanied him to destinations like New York, Rome, and the Caribbean.
From these early adventures, Paul’s love of photography blossomed and it turned into a passion. His photographic expeditions have taken him to the corners of the globe including Antarctica, Svalbard, Thailand, Greenland, and Ushuaia.
He also has a love for literature and writing from an early age and used this together with his photography experience to become a freelance writer specializing in photography and travel.