After a somehow slower start than other genres, photography is quickly becoming a significant part of the NFT marketplace.
NFTs provide artists in general – and photographers in particular – with a way to make a lot more money for their work than ever before. And as 2022 sees new major players move into the world of the blockchain, even more will follow.
To fully understand how the major upcoming changes will play out, it’s important to get an idea of where things stand and where they are going.
Who are the big players in photography NFTs right now? And how will the medium fare in the near future?
Let’s take a look.
Why is NFT photography’s boom bound to happen?
In large part, that’s thanks to its promise to fix a major problem photographers have always faced. In a print-based medium, how can artists achieve a price point similar to their fine art brethren? While you can buy an original painting, you can’t really buy an original photograph — at least not in the same way.
According to Rızacan Kumaş, a Turkish photographer whose art was exhibited at Sotheby’s a few months ago, NFTs mark a new era for photography and fine art in general: “We do not need a gallery to reach the collector, or we do not need a gallery to exhibit our works anymore. This is a new beginning.”
Not to mention the copycat and fraud issues NFTs can solve by establishing clear ownership and helping safeguard IP. In that respect, Noam Galai’s upcoming NFT “Reclaiming The Stolen Scream” is particularly interesting. It will try and help put an end to the crazy prejudice the photographer suffered when his viral shot “The Scream” became widely plagiarized over 10 years ago.
Additionally, the sense of community that surrounds NFT photographers has become stronger over the months, with a particularly striking vibe of support, inclusion and diversity. Some photographers have even been forming decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), such as RAW, founded by Alejandro Cartagena, documentary photographer Omar Z Robles and several other like-minded photo artists.
Who are the biggest photographers selling NFTs?
From landscape photography to fine art, street photography, or photo-journalism, many types of photographers have permeated the NFT world.
Justin Aversano has established himself as the clear frontrunner to date. His Twin Flames series of NFT photographs has netted $17 million. One of the pieces, Twin Flames #83, sold for more than $1 million at Christie’s in late 2021.
In that same top earner echelon, the controversial photo collagist Slime Sunday (aka Mike Parisella) has earned around $14 million from his sales of trippy erotica.
Other top sellers include aforementioned Alejandro Cartagena and his award-winning Carpoolers’ project, and Isaac “Drift” Wright, a former U.S. Army paratrooper. Wright got famous for posting dramatic images of his shoes high above the urban landscapes compiled in a fantastic NFT collection called “Where My Vans Go”.
Barbara Davidson, Dave Krugman, Elise Swopes are other photographers who successfully entered the NFT space last year, along with superstar Mario Testino who tried his luck with the release of “Four Iconic Portraits”.
But the great thing about the market is that there has been space the last year for smaller names to position themselves well. This has led to emerging artists getting the attention they deserve, and looking at a promising 2022.
This includes photographers like Anna McNaught, who currently sits on 33.2 ETH worth of assets. Her oeuvre is filled with psychedelic, digitally manipulated work that emphasizes a dream-like aesthetic. It’s the sort of art that has found a lot of legroom with NFTs, though is underrepresented in the traditional gallery setting.
Where To in 2022?
The market for photography NFTs is beginning to swell, and we are about to see a large influx of new content in this area.
The average stock photo sells for less than 50 cents, while NFTs have a higher floor right now and a seemingly unlimited ceiling. That’s going to push photographers into the space.
And as more and more platforms make it easy and intuitive to mint, the barriers to entry continue to crumble. Several photography-focused NFT platforms have also been created or are in the making: Quantum Art, co-founded by Arsano, Ephimera, Savage and Cheeze, to name a few.
Very interestingly, the Associated Press is even working with Xooa to build a marketplace for their enormous and award-winning images.
And that’s good for the medium. It’ll need big numbers as the competition is fierce with so much coming to the NFT art market in 2022.
With more institutions entering the photography NFT market, along with more independent photographers making the leap, 2022 is going to be expansive. That could lead to fewer big sales, but far more sales volume in total. And the prevailing style will no doubt continue to blur the line between photography and digital art.
In short, a fascinating year to come for photography NFTs!
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