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What is an NFT and Why Should Photographers Care?

Seemingly overnight, NFTs became the hottest acronym on social media and in headlines. On Thursday, a single JPG file created by Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, sold in an online auction for $69.3 million. It was the first digital-only art sale for auction house Christie’s, meaning there was no physical copy involved.

Regardless of the overnight popularity, NFTs are not new. The current boom, however, is introducing more creators, big and small, to a marketplace where they can monetize their work within the cryptocurrency community.

If you are already lost, and wondering why you should care, you are not alone.

PetaPixel spoke with Donnie Dinch, CEO of NFT marketplace Bitski, and photographer Bryan Minear about what NFTs are, and how photographers can jump in on the craze — and if they should.

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for “non-fungible token” — “non-fungible” means it cannot be exchanged for something of similar value. It is, by definition, one of a kind. For example, you can’t exchange a photograph by Dorothea Lange for another by Annie Leibovitz. They are not the same.

NFTs are verified using the blockchain, which is basically a transparent history of ownership, purchases, and trades that no one can edit and anyone can see. The blockchain ensures there will always be a trace from the current owner to the original creator. Some NFT marketplaces, like Bitski, ask their creators to connect their social media accounts for an extra layer of verification.

“It effectively is a way to own a digital good,” Dinch said. “We look at the blockchain as this global source of truth of who owns what, and the NFT is like an atomic unit of that ownership for individual goods.”

Tokenizing a digital good, like a photograph, is the process of uploading it and placing it for sale. NFTs marketplaces exist within the blockchain, which requires the purchasing of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

For photographers, after you’ve uploaded your image...

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Written by Meira Gebel.

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