NFT Photography – The Definitive Guide

NFT photography guide.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can help photographers sell their work in a new way. There is a plethora of NFT marketplaces, rules, and concerns that you need to keep in mind before you begin. This guide will cover all of these topics and help you figure out if NFT photography is for you.

What Are NFTs?

NFTs are digital assets that you can purchase or sell. They can represent photographs, music, digital art, and other forms of digital media. As a photographer, you can sell your photos as NFTs. All you need to do is create a digital wallet, join an NFT marketplace, and sell your pictures.

Every NFT has a unique identifier. When you purchase one, you become the sole owner of it until you sell it to someone else. (Reselling isn’t mandatory, but it can be a great opportunity to earn some extra money.) Purchasing an NFT doesn’t make you its creator. All it does is give you proof of ownership. Many buyers like to showcase their NFT collections in virtual galleries.

Value of NFTs

fine art NFT photograph of a mirror outdoors.

Certificate Of Ownership

What use is proof of ownership when photos are constantly being stolen online? If you own an NFT, there’s a guarantee that you own the specific image that the NFT represents. Each NFT is powered by a smart contract, verifying and proving ownership. This is different from downloading the same photo online. In a way, it’s like a certificate of ownership that you can use to collect art in its digital form.

There aren’t many ways to “own” digital media. NFT photography is making this concept a reality, which means photographers and NFT collectors can have more control. It creates opportunities for people to earn more money without leaving their homes.

NFT tracking history on Rarible marketplace.

Tracking History

Another benefit of creating NFTs is tracking history. Each NFT is tracked on a blockchain. In most cases, you’ll see the following when viewing an NFT:

  • Who purchased the NFT
  • When it was purchased
  • Who created it

NFTs create room for transparency in the art world. They also give photographers a chance to be credited properly. When photos are shared on different platforms like Instagram and Twitter, the original photographers aren’t always credited. This is a big problem that prevents artists from getting opportunities and feeling like their art is truly valued.

It’s easy to find the creator of an NFT, even if hundreds of people have purchased and resold it. No matter who purchases your images in an NFT marketplace, you’ll always be credited as its original creator.

Example of NFT photography royalties.

NFT Royalties

In many marketplaces, you can get paid every time your NFT gets sold to someone else. The first payment you receive for an NFT is related to the primary market.

Every sale that comes after that is known as the secondary market. Instead of being paid once for each image, like you would when selling physical prints, you’ll have the chance to earn money over and over again. You can call these “secondary sales”.

Royalty rates and guidelines differ on every website. In some marketplaces, like OpenSea and Foundation, you can set royalties up to 10%.

Some marketplaces work with one another. For example, if you sell your photographs in one marketplace, they might appear in another marketplace. Of course, you’ll get paid no matter where your NFT gets sold. This increases your chances of selling your work.

surreal digital NFT artwork of an outdoor setting.

How to Create a Photography NFT

If you’re interested in selling NFTs, there are a few steps you need to take. This process involves smart contracts, crypto wallets, and a few other seemingly complicated things.

If none of these terms make sense to you, don’t panic! The process isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

Digital wallet MetaMask's homepage.

Set Up a Crypto Wallet

Before you join a marketplace, you need to set up a digital wallet, also known as a cryptocurrency wallet. This will allow you to sell and purchase NFTs.

In the NFT world, Ethereum’s cryptocurrency is known as Ether or ETH. Ethereum is the most commonly used blockchain service for NFTs. You’ll be able to use it in almost any NFT marketplace. Think of it as your online currency.

AlphaWallet, MetaMask, and TrustWallet are considered some of the best crypto wallets for NFTs. If you’re new to the NFT photography space, it might be a good idea to use MetaMask as it’s very user-friendly and is used by many creators.

MetaMask is available as a Chrome browser extension and as an Android or iOS application. When you join the service, you’ll be prompted to create a new wallet. You’ll also be given a seed phrase. Think of this as your password, and make sure to store it in a very safe place. If you forget or lose your seed phrase, you won’t be able to access your wallet again!

You can add funds to your wallet by purchasing ETH directly in MetaMask. You’ll need Apple Pay or a debit card to do this. You can also transfer funds from another wallet to your MetaMask wallet. An alternative to these options is sending a fund request to a friend.

Mintable NFT marketplace.

Join an NFT Marketplace

There are various platforms where you can start selling NFTs as a photographer. Some are invite-only, while others are open to anyone who’s interested in selling digital copies of their work.

Before we dive into these marketplaces, let’s focus on an important term in the NFT industry: gas fees. In some marketplaces, you can create photography NFTs without paying these fees.

What are gas fees? They have nothing to do with gas in the physical world. These types of fees are associated with “mining” in cryptocurrency. When a lot of transactions take place on the Ethereum blockchain, these fees can skyrocket.

In most cases, you’ll have to pay a gas fee when you create NFTs. Collectors need to pay gas fees when they buy NFTs or cancel their orders. If you join at a time when these fees are high, you might need to pay a lot of money to create a new NFT.

Let’s focus on 5 of the top NFT marketplaces that have been steadily growing in the last few months.

opensea marketplace.

OpenSea

OpenSea is one of the biggest marketplaces for most photographers and artists.

As a user, you can sell NFTs without paying any gas fees. This option is known as “lazy minting” and it comes with a catch. If someone purchases your lazily minted NFT, they’ll need to pay the fee. This might come as a surprise to your customer, but it can be a good option if you’re new to the NFT market. It can help you sell photography NFTs without spending a lot of money right from the get-go.

OpenSea displays digital files from various marketplaces. If you list your NFT on another platform, it might appear on OpenSea as well. This can help with artist exposure, as mentioned earlier.

OpenSea has a 2.5% service fee. Every time someone purchases digital work, the marketplace takes 2.5% of the sales.

NFT marketplace Rarible logo

Rarible

Another popular NFT marketplace, Rarible provides its users with a trustworthy platform. Like OpenSea, it offers a lazy minting option. If you’re a beginner NFT photographer, this platform might be the perfect opportunity for you to start selling your photographs digitally.

Unlike OpenSea, Rarible displays art from its own marketplace only. While this may not have a significant effect your work, it’s important to be aware of it. If you need extra exposure and more opportunities as a photographer, you might want to join a community like OpenSea instead.

Rarible charges a 2.5% fee to buyers and sellers.

Invite-only NFT marketplace Foundation logo.

Foundation

Foundation is an exclusive, invite-only marketplace. To join, you have to receive an invitation from an NFT photographer or any artist who’s already a member of Foundation.

Exclusivity comes with its own perks. Foundation has many successful members, including photographers Reuben Wu and Cheryl Fox. These people have found a lot of success by selling their images in the form of NFTs. Foundation has a blog that regularly features its members in the form of interviews. This gives artists a chance to talk about their work and build an even bigger audience.

If you’re interested in joining Foundation, you can request an invitation on Reddit. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get invited, but you might find someone who appreciates your work and wants you to join. Create a thread, show some examples of your photography, and let the members know why you want to join this community specifically.

Even though Foundation is an invite-only platform, anyone can look through its massive collection of digital art for free. There are many photography NFTs available on the website, so if you’re looking for inspiration then this is the perfect place to start.

Foundation charges a 15% service fee. This is one of the highest service fees in the NFT world.

superrare NFT.

SuperRare

SuperRare has features that are similar to all the marketplaces listed earlier. Like Foundation, it boasts a large variety of well-known creators like photographers Cath Simard and Monaris. Anyone who’s interested can join at any time, so you don’t need to worry about getting an invitation.

As its name suggests, SuperRare focuses on rare and exclusive digital art. You’ll find lots of commercial work and fine art photos in the marketplace.

SuperRare has a 15% gallery fee. Collectors need to pay a 3% fee for every digital file that they purchase.

Mintable logo.

Mintable

Mintable is one of the easiest and most comfortable marketplaces to use as an NFT creator. While its transaction fees are a little high compared to marketplaces like Rarible, it can be a great option for photographers and collectors alike.

When you set up a store, you’ll need to pay a fee. However, if you choose to, you can list your first few NFTs without paying any gas fees.

Mintable’s service fees vary depending on the kind of purchase that takes place. You can expect to be charged anywhere from 2.5% to 10% per transaction.

close-up of ethereum token on a chess board.

Create Your First NFT

Every NFT marketplace has its own rules and limitations. If anything concerns you, make sure to study the terms and conditions first. One common rule is exclusivity.

When you create an NFT in one marketplace, you can’t create another NFT for the same photo in another marketplace. This will go against the uniqueness of individual NFTs and might get you in trouble. You’re free to join different marketplaces, but make sure you don’t create NFTs for the same digital assets in each one.

Before you start, familiarise yourself with other photographers’ work. Here are a few types of photography that are doing exceptionally well in the NFT world:

  • Fine art photography
  • Conceptual photography (photos that have a deeper meaning; these are usually manipulated an editing program to create a surreal feeling)
  • Landscape photography
  • Documentary photography
  • Black & white photography

These genres can merge in NFT photography. For example, you could sell a black & white photo of a person that you took in a wide landscape. The point is to give your photographs a distinct look and to build a following as a photographer.

Let’s see how you can create your first NFT on Mintable. Most marketplaces in the NFT space have similar features.

Account creation page on Mintable.

Create an Account

Start by signing in or creating an account. After you verify your account, you’ll be asked to connect your wallet.

Minting page.

When you’re ready to create a new item, click on Mint > Create New Item. Choose the type of blockchain you’d like to mint on. Most NFTs are stored in the Ethereum network. In this case, you have to choose between Ethereum Mainnet and Immutable X.

Immutable X is an option that isn’t available in every NFT marketplace. It uses the Ethereum blockchain to create faster transactions and more security. The upside is that there are zero gas fees involved here.

NFT listing page.

List an Item for Sale

Once you’ve chosen a blockchain, you can start listing items for sale. There are a few important steps involved, some of which can help you get more exposure in the NFT world:

  • Category – Categories differ in each marketplace, so make sure to pick one that accurately describes the kind of digital artwork you want to sell. In this case, the most fitting category is Art.
  • Title, subtitle, and description – A good title can grab someone’s attention. A meaningful description might compel them to purchase your NFT. Make sure to include some relevant keywords in the description to increase your chances of being discovered in the marketplace.
  • Private or unlockable content – In many marketplaces, you can upload special files that only a buyer can access. This can add value to your NFTs and attract more collectors to your work.
NFT second listing page.
  • Copyright transfer – This is when NFT ownership becomes important. Can the buyer use your photographs for commercial purposes? This may or may not be an appealing option, depending on your preferences.
  • Price – Here, you’ll need to figure out if you want to create a fixed price (in ETH) or auction off your photographs. Again, this depends on your preferences. It also depends on your financial situation. Are you comfortable with not knowing how much a buyer will pay for your photographs? If so, setting a fixed price will give you more security.

Last but not least, list your item. In some marketplaces, you can create photography collections with different themes. It all depends on your creativity and budget.

Keep in mind that not every marketplace is as budget-friendly as Mintable. Listing your first NFT can cost a significant amount of money. Creating original collections sometimes comes with a price, too. If you don’t want to spend money on NFT photography now, it’s better to start on a website where you don’t have to pay any fees at all.

hand holding a smartphone with a Twitter display.

How to Market Your Photography NFTs

Getting an NFT or a collection sold isn’t guaranteed to be easy. This industry has introduced a new form of marketing that revolves around community-building. You can treat this like any other kind of marketing: put yourself out there, meet new people, and inspire them to follow your work. There are a few ways you can build your own NFT photography community.

NFT Photographers Alliance Twitter page.

The first is to join NFT photography communities and forums outside of the marketplace. There’s a special Discord chat for photographers called NFT Photographers Alliance. To join, you need to contact them directly on Twitter. Treat this like a networking opportunity. Don’t spam other users with links to your profile. Instead, aim to build connections and learn from others.

The second step is to use keywords and descriptions wisely. Before you list your NFT, come up with a few keywords that describe your photograph. Make sure it’s descriptive. This will help collectors find your work if they’re looking for something specific. For example, a photo of a dog running in the snow could have keywords like ‘dog’, ‘pet’, ‘winter’, ‘snow’, and ‘adorable’. Tell a story about your image. Explain why it’s meaningful to you. This can add depth to your work and inspire people to collect it.

person checking cryptocurrency in smartphone app.

Pricing is another important factor to consider. Don’t underprice or overprice your work. Many photographers start out by asking anywhere from 100 USD to 1000 USD per NFT. (As of January 2022, this translates to 0,044 ETH and 0,44 ETH respectively.) If you’re just starting out and want to make some money, it might be a good idea to not ask for too much.

Consistency in pricing is also important. If a collector sees your art and wants to purchase more, they might be surprised to see photos that range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. Maintain consistency to strengthen your reputation in the NFT photography world.

Last but not least, create unlockable content. As mentioned earlier, this is exclusive content that a collector will receive when they buy your NFT. This isn’t mandatory, but it can encourage people to buy your work. Photography workshops, online classes, one-on-one video lessons, etc., often accompany photography NFTs. You can also include an original photograph (RAW file) with each NFT if you want your work to be used commercially.

colourful NFT photography digital artwork.

Concerns about NFTs

Every industry comes with its own risks and concerns. Here are a few issues related to NFTs that have come up in the past few months:

  • Disappearing NFTs – If a non-fungible token violates a marketplace’s rules, it will be removed. In some cases, NFTs disappear for no reason. Keep in mind that this happens very rarely, but it’s a possibility.
Examples of clean NFT marketplaces, articles, and group chats.
  • Impact on the environment – The NFT industry uses a specific blockchain technology that takes up a lot of energy. This isn’t good news for the environment. There are some eco-friendly marketplaces, such as Versum and Kalamint. Unfortunately, these marketplaces aren’t as popular as the ones mentioned earlier in this article. Here is a long list of markets that use “green mining” techniques that aren’t as harmful as regular mining.
  • Fake proof of ownership – Let’s say that you stumble upon some art that’s been listed by a new user. If you don’t know the creator personally – and if they don’t have a following – how can you trust that the art piece belongs to them? There are many scammers in the NFT industry, so make sure to be very careful when purchasing other people’s work.
  • Laws and taxes – Many governments and central banks around the world are trying to figure out what to do about NFTs. The industry is worth billions of dollars, but many countries around the world still haven’t developed any laws around it. This is a work-in-progress that’s unpredictable and depends on a user’s location. There’s a possibility that things could get complicated in the future. As a result, many people aren’t sure if they should rely on cryptocurrency to make a living.
  • NFT photography controversy – Many people argue that photographers shouldn’t call themselves “NFT photographers” because the two aren’t related. According to these people, NFT photography is simply another way to earn money and is not a label. Even though this isn’t a huge issue in the photography industry, it’s encouraging people to look at their work from a different perspective and to decide if they should call themselves NFT photographers on other platforms.
Photographer floating above grass while taking photos outdoors.

Conclusion

The world of NFT crypto art is a fairly new market in the virtual world. This is a great time for photographers to learn about NFT photography. Finding success in the NFT world isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try.

Non-fungible tokens can give photographers more control over their art, inspire them to try a new type of photography, and earn money. Many photographers see great potential in this industry. Give it a shot and maybe you’ll see some potential, too.

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