It was only a matter of time before NFTs were going to reach the land of photography, and now, we are finally here. More and more photographers are moving into the space, and NFT photography is a term that is now being widely used. But as we move into a scenario where we see more photographers and collectors looking specifically for NFT photography, it might be interesting to think about what it might change for the photography industry and where it might progress in the future.
Reaching outside the existing collectors base
Photography is still somewhat considered to be a rather niche area of collecting, and as a result, the collectors group is also smaller than in some other areas and media in the art world. With the move into NFTs, there is now a chance for photographers to reach outside this niche group of collectors and have a wider reach. Rather than relying on a group that is collecting something quite narrow, the collectors are now a more general group, one which considers the NFT as a medium, rather than photography as the medium. Adding NFT in front of photography is interesting, as it indicates that what is being sold here is something slightly different than what has been collected before. Though the image itself might be the same, it is now the digital version of that image that is being sold or bought.
A digital translation of the medium
NFTs can offer an extension of the medium itself. Though the practice has for a long time been heavily digital when it came to equipment, the outcome of it has had a much more materialistic take. NFTs do offer an alternative, and as a result, we might see a more digital aspect when it comes to the outlet and the pieces as well. As mentioned above, the object that is being sold now is the digital version of what before would have been a print. As with many other art pieces and objects that are being sold as NFTs, it gives photographers the chance to not only reach a more digitally native audience, but also the chance to earn royalties, explore new paths for programmability and utility, better engage with their collectors, and reward their early supporters.
More experimentation and financial merit outside a gallery or a museum
Whilst experimentation within photography is nothing new, NFTs might offer a more viable way for photographers to make money out of that experimentation as they might not have to follow the likes of the traditional collectors as much.
Photographer and artist Leah Berman suggests that “NFTs have flipped [the traditional] ideal and [that the space] tends to champion artistic work. Collectors can own an artist’s work whereas before the artist had to be in a gallery. I see artists being more genuine and experimental, which ultimately pushes the medium.”
Likewise, this new way of selling works also offers a way to gain both financial merit and reputation without having your photographs in a gallery or in a museum, whereas this was something the old model relied on much more.
“Before NFTs emerged I think a lot of work was done to grab clients' attention and adhere to their tastes,” says Berman. “The more genuine and artistic work didn’t have financial merit unless you were showing in museums or galleries.”
Though the physical element of photography, such as prints, is still relevant for the medium, the more digital approach with NFTs might open up for a bigger group of photographers that will be able to survive on their practice.
Supporting the new ventures of photography
Portion is proud to support photographers in this new phase of the medium, and the exploration that is currently happening in the space. With NFTs reaching wider audiences, it is only natural that we see more exploration inside more niched areas of art as well. As we move into a more online heavy existence, the shift from the physical to the digital is a natural path forward.
Cover art by Zak van Biljon