In the last few years, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have come into the spotlight as a form of decentralizing and improving traditional financial systems, but how do photography NFTs work? The potential of NFTs goes beyond finance, with their possibilities flourishing in artistic communities, which could be excellent news for nature photography circles. So could cryptocurrencies benefit nature photography? In this article, I will help you learn what NFTs are, how to make NFTs, and how to sell your photographs as NFTs. I will also explain how cryptocurrency and NFTs could revolutionize nature photography. I’m aware that this may seem overwhelming or complex if you're a newcomer to cryptocurrency or NFTs. However, I'll cover all the basics you need to know to get started in this new and evolving aspect of the industry. What is an NFT? Firstly, what exactly are NFTs, and how can nature photographers use them? At its core, cryptocurrency aims to improve the inefficiencies of traditional financial systems. Although its uses extend far beyond this. If you are familiar with NFTs, then you’ve probably heard of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Crypto Punks, NBA Top Shot, or several other collections. If you are not, then this probably sounds complicated or foreign, but not to worry. I’ve got you covered. NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’. Simply put, an NFT is a way to tokenize a digital asset on the blockchain, which can be sold or traded on a digital exchange or marketplace from one party to another. What is the difference between fungible and non-fungible? On the one hand, something fungible means it is unique and cannot be replaced. For instance, there is only one of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Even if someone made a copy, it could not be interchangeable because it is not the original. NFTs work the same way. Conversely, fungible items are perfectly exchangeable and have no unique feature that differentiates one unit from another. For example, with money, one dollar is worth the same as anyone else’s and can be exchanged for any other. NBA Top Shot uses highlights as NFTs, crypto games like Axie Infinity have digital creatures as NFTs, and the Bored Ape Yacht Club uses illustrations of customized apes as NFTs. Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, also sold his first tweet as an NFT for more than $2.9 million (1630.5826 Ethereum). In short, anything digital can be an NFT, even your nature photographs! NFTs and photography. How do NFTs connect to photography? If you have been paying attention until now, you may have guessed that your photos can become NFTs! One of the main applications of NFTs has been digital art; a genre in which I will include photography. Thanks to most photographs being digital we, as photographers, can benefit from turning our images into NFTs in two main ways: we access another way to monetize and profit from our work, and we retain ownership of our work even after selling it. Read more: Selling Photography Prints - Making Money from Photos Monetizing. NFTs can be an excellent way for creators to profit from and retain ownership of their work, even after selling it. With NFTs, photographers have two main ways to monetize their work. First, similar to selling a print in real life, you make an initial profit when you initially sell your NFT. Second, depending on how you set up the backend, you can also profit every time someone else sells your NFT. This is akin to the royalty payments that musicians and other artists receive. When it comes to this second method, when you mint (or create) your NFT, you can set it up so that each transaction includes royalties whenever your work moves on the blockchain. For example, consider that your NFT contract consists of a 5% royalty fee and is valued at $100. If it switches hands or wallets 5 times, you will receive $25. Retaining ownership. Thanks to blockchain technology, which functions as a permanent, transparent ledger, everyone can publicly access who (or more specifically, which cryptocurrency wallet) owns an NFT. As such, NFTs solve critical issues associated with copyright, allowing you to avoid the headache of others using your work without permission. Have you ever seen your nature photo, or someone else’s, used on another Instagram account without crediting the original creator? The blockchain technology behind NFTs solves that since the code shows copyright information. Even if someone buys your NFT and obtains copyright ownership, you, as the photographer, still retain copyright and reproduction rights. In other words, you still have the right to license and use the photos on social media, in addition to a share of the revenue whenever they are sold. An NFT buyer that corresponds to your photograph only possesses the certificate demonstrating they are the buyer. NFTs function as a certificate of authenticity since work sold as an NFT cannot be counterfeit. For photographers, each photo acts as a specific image number of a film roll. Like works of art, these unique digital objects can have a monetary value because of their uniqueness and offer a range of new possibilities to nature photographers. Read more: What is Copyright? - Understanding Your Rights How to Make NFTs. Although there are many platforms that you can use to mint your own NFTs, for this article, I will walk you through how to create on OpenSea - the largest NFT marketplace in the world. Step 1: Create a private wallet. For those familiar with crypto, you will probably already have a MetaMask, the most popular private wallet. A private wallet is the way for you to interact with apps and platforms on the blockchain. It also holds all of your tokens, whether they are cryptocurrency or NFTs. Step 2: Send cryptocurrency ETH (Ethereum) or MATIC (Polygon) to your private wallet for gas fees. To interact with apps and make transactions on the blockchain, you will need some cryptocurrency (in this case, Ethereum) to cover transaction fees, also known as “gas”. Therefore, I suggest you buy some Ethereum or Polygon on a centralized exchange, such as Binance, and send it to your private MetaMask wallet. It is necessary to have ETH or MATIC to cover gas fees. You will not be able to create your NFT without it. Step 3: Head over to OpenSea and click the “Create” button to start creating your new NFT. Step 4: Fill out the “Create New Item” page. Here is where you will have to provide several pieces of information, such as your JPG, the name of your NFT, a description, and more. I have created the example using a photo of a Eurasian whimbrel I took in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Step 5: Finish filling out the “Create New Item” page. Apart from the information I showed above, when you scroll down on this page, you can do many other things, such as add your NFT to a collection, indicate its supply, and give it specific properties, levels, and other things. Most importantly, you will have to select the blockchain on which you want to create your NFT. You have four options: Ethereum, Polygon, Klaytn, and Solana. I prefer Ethereum or Polygon since they are the biggest (and the ones we have been using for this tutorial). Each has its pros and cons. Ethereum is the most prominent blockchain you can build on, which means your NFT will have a larger audience, but it also has the highest fees, which can be around a couple of dollars, depending on the day. Polygon, on the other hand, is a smaller blockchain (although still one of the biggest in the world) with much lower fees that are mere cents on the dollar. For that reason, I chose Polygon as the network on which to create my NFT. Step 6: Create your NFT. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Create” button. Once that is done, you will see a page that shows that you successfully created your NFT. How to sell pictures as NFTs. Step 7: Sell your NFT. Click the “Sell” button and go to a screen where you can list your NFT on OpenSea’s marketplace for sale. Here you will select the type of sale (fixed price or timed auction), the cost of your NFT in MATIC or ETH, and the duration of your listing. If I want to list my NFT for $50, I will enter the equivalent amount in the cryptocurrency I select, as shown in the screenshot. Step 8: Enjoy your listed NFT and wait for it to sell. Congratulations! You have successfully created and listed your NFT for sale on OpenSea. Now, feel free to promote it with your community the same way you would a print sale and see if anyone is interested in buying it. Click here to see the Eurasian whimbrel NFT I created in this tutorial. In conclusion. NFTs have taken the world by storm. Amid all the hype, the technology behind them offers photographers new ways to generate income and engage with their communities. Despite seeming complicated, as is evident in this tutorial, creating your own NFTs is actually a straightforward process; it could be a great new way for you to expand your photography business. Although the technology is still in its infancy and is not understood by all, NFTs could be revolutionary for nature photographers in the long term. Best of luck as you continue to explore the world of cryptocurrency and NFTs for photography!