May 2021 // The Wedding Edition

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

That being said, some fantastic artists are selling their work. Twitter users like @tina_eisen and @dracorubio, who I have followed for years, are successfully selling NFTs of their work for thousands of dollars each. I have personally watched other items get bid into the hundreds of thousands and even into the millions by some prominent collectors! Do you want to get involved? There are two barriers to entry (aside from having artistic skills, which again seems somewhat optional at this point): one is converting a fiat currency like U.S. dollars into a digital currency, and the other is the price of gas. When I minted my first piece in March, it was challenging to obtain Ethereum. The only site I found that wasn’t intimidating was coinbase.com, since banks and other familiar places for monetary transactions shy away from these new currencies. The tracking of transactions involves a digital wallet, which is unique and hopefully protected by a password more complex than your dog’s name with a “1” at the end. Because this currency is part of the Ethereum blockchain, you can purchase it from literally anywhere as long as you use your digital wallet as the block’s signature. Moreover, because the NFT transactions are also decentralized, you can use any website to sell your photos. Sites like superrare.co, foundation.app, and mintable.app are the most popular with photographers and artists, but they are also invite-only at this time. The largest open one I know of is opensea.io. It is packed with animated GIFs, icons, songs, and any other digital media that someone feels the moral obligation to foist upon the world. Regardless, all of these sites are connected to the same Ethereum blockchain. The other barrier is the price of gas. This obligatory payment is akin to the cost of gas you put into your car. This gas fee is paid to the miners to create the proof of work hash for your block. This price can vary widely every hour, and minting a single image can cost anywhere from $30 to over $250! When there are not many pending transactions, the price of gas will drop. I use gasnow.org to determine the current price before I decide to mint another image. Remember that every transaction needs to be hashed, so all things require gas. But those much more complex tasks (known as contracts) like NFTs are the hardest ones, where functions like swapping currencies are much more reasonable. There may be opportunities to offer NFT versions to clients in our photography industry, for example, or creative ways a digital original can be placed into our portfolio or offerings. Only time will tell, and I am sure many creative souls will find ways to add this to their client offerings. A few key things to keep in mind are that the NFT does not include the transfer of copyright or permission to create or print duplicates. The digital NFT version is simply the file that is considered to be the original or limited edition, and it is not the same as those fungible copies that others might have and enjoy.

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