NFTs are changing the way digital works are certified and valued. Today we talk with photographer Fred Lahache to tell you everything you need to know about NFTs as a photographer.
Fred is currently presenting his work on Foundation. You can see and buy it here.
1. How would you describe NFT?
Precisely, an NFT itself is a unique certificate of authenticity that guarantees a URL attached to a piece of work, which provides proof of its ownership. It’s not the work itself, and the artist retains both copyright and intellectual property (as well as a percentage of the resale profit if sales happen, and a cut each time it resells again on the secondary market).
It’s changing how digital works are certified and valued — even though they kind of weren’t, in the first place. Recently, some artists have attracted bigger attention and blockchain-oriented galleries have even shown up.
2. Why are they currently so popular?
NFTs are just one part of the larger conversation that is DeFi and the crypto sphere being more and more accepted, not only by the public but also by institutions. They were already hot before the end of 2020, but the real boom was last March.
I wasn’t an early bird myself, but blockchain was in my mind. When I understood it could be applied to certificates, which I’ve always been serious about, I jumped in. In reality, I think that the money appeal NFTs suggest — with crazier results in the news day after day — was the main traction for people getting on board.
When you see the creators’ and collectors’ age range, it certainly has something to do with Gamestop’s trading madness a couple months before as well. Many have seen this as a second chance for record figures and didn’t want to miss the train. Unfortunately, these record numbers are incredibly more scarce than what the news seem to show, and if it’s what you’re looking for you’re most likely to lose.
3. How do NFTs work? What does it mean to sell?
It’s important to understand that NFTs are not the art itself. They are contracts. Contracts that are public, and completely unforgeable.
First, you register («mint») something to the blockchain, that will forever be attached to the NFT and which you can prove you are the only author possible. We’re speaking photography here, but it has always been a thing for outfits and accessories in online gaming… now it can be some digital art, a song, a meme, a scenario. You name it.
You can turn almost anything into an NFT. This authorship won’t ever change, as well as another part of the NFT: a history. Again, it is public, permanent, and unforgeable. It will keep track of every change of ownership that resulted from the sales. Which makes the last part of the NFT: a current owner.
Now, before an NFT is sold from the author to the first owner, it first has to go through an auction process. Once the author’s reserve is hit, the sale is open — also with an auction.
Oh, and if you hadn’t noticed, NFTs exist in the blockchain so the juicy results you can often hear in the media are actually never in state currencies, but only in Ether, the cryptocurrency used for NFTs. Let’s keep it short, but this means you should also consider the volatility of that currency, and the fees (called « gas ») that are applied — and they can change a lot in a matter of days, even hours.
4. How can I get people to collect my work?
First things first, you need to have created a wallet (Metamask for example) in order to have some crypto available. Then create a profile on a marketplace, connected to that wallet, so you can start «minting».
«Minting» (and then on most marketplaces, «listing» too) immediately comes with fees. Once listed, your reserve price needs to be hit. From this point, you can finally sell.
It’s a long process you must be prepared for, you can’t go ahead a sell something on your first day. Also one has to consider money transfers, doing your own publicity to have the work seen… It’s time-consuming. But it’s not as nerdy as it looks, you quickly get the whole thing.
5. Why should I engage with this as an artist? And as a buyer?
Do not go there for the potential sales, or you’ll waste your time and money. Do this for your works. It’s just another way of having them seen.
Especially for some images or concepts that really have a point in existing in the blockchain. It’s like… printing is still THE thing for photographers, but it’s always fun to see an image end up on a record cover, a t-shirt, a jigsaw puzzle, then why not an NFT?
I think you should try it if you think some of your work has a reason to be there. It’s a big trend for now, sure, and it will calm down eventually, but I think it will last. However, some natural «cleaning» will be done down the road and what’s least relevant will fall into oblivion.
So purpose, creativity, and a whole lot of luck are certainly necessary, I guess. Whatever happens, you’ll get to enter a wider conversation in the process and a vibrant community that really has something to say about the future. Same as a buyer. You will get involved and support artists directly, build your own cohesive collection, and take part in the game, not just wish for profits.
I would like to buy some time too, but until now my wallet was much needed to pay fees. If I can one day, sure I’d love to. I’m following some artists already.
6. What are the best platforms for starters and where do the pros sell their work?
The most popular I guess are platforms like OpenSea or Rarible, and I think the fees are low. Or you can aim for a more sophisticated marketplace like Foundation (whose listings are also included in the OpenSea results).
It’s longer to get in because they’re based on a curation model that requires an invitation system. Yet, you will gain a more appropriate audience and your art will be shown in a much less «messy» environment. Foundation did a great job and it’s the marketplace I chose, personally.
7. When did you get into this landscape? How is your experience so far?
I was curious about crypto but I heard about this specific evolution only earlier this year, and I was interested in what it could mean for arts. I thought some of my work could make sense there and I started educating myself. By the time I had a wallet with credit, and my creator page, NFTs were everywhere. So it was a bit long beforehand, but when I finally could start listing my first NFTs I was well prepared.
I’ve had some nice feedback about this, but there is a lot of explaining to do still. And I often have to say I have not quit my usual practice and commissions, I have simply registered a few works on the blockchain to see what happens… The main idea was to make them visible to a different audience. To build new bridges. It can’t hurt!
We would like to thank Fred for his time and the interview. If you’re interested in exploring more about Fred’s work, you can have a look at his Cherrydeck profile, his Instagram, or his Foundation profile.
For more tips and insights on NFTs for photographers read our chat with Ryan Koopmans on the same topic.