Nearly two centuries after the worry that the birth of photography signaled the death of art, our culture now recognizes how laughable such a prophecy was. 

Despite its celebrated practitioners, the photographic medium was long prone to controversy — it seemed too “easy” to painters, too reproducible to collectors, and too easily manipulated for everyone else. Never mind that all of these traits signal a vibrant artistic medium that can — and did — change art for the better.

Much like digital art and AI art are enduring now, photography faced a long road of critical challenges before being accepted into the “fine art” historical canon.   

Goodness by Vicente Contreras Usategui

Photography is as Web3 as it Gets

Photography was the first medium to come under scrutiny for its “endless reproducibility.” It took 100+ years to wear down the fine art world until it finally relented and let photographers into its hallowed halls. That same burden would later be borne by digital artists, who have similarly fought for recognition. 

Despite the narrow passage that allows certain photographers to call themselves “fine art photographers,” the past decade of social media has gone a long way to cheapen photography to the status of doomscroll content. As the tools for creating and distributing photos have grown increasingly accessible, photography’s gravitas has arguably suffered. 

Used as a tool for influencing and content creation, photography — like graphic design and journalism — has become, to many, a mere means of brand building, AKA selling something. 

While art-minded photographers have likely been grateful for the paychecks, opportunities for honing their craft, and ammo against the pleas for practicality from family members, the deluge of mere content has certainly drowned out great artistic photography in the noise of economically utilized photography. 

The blockchain offers a fork in the road, and photographers can happily take both paths. 

On the one side winds the well-worn web2 path, with its blogs, influencers, corporate events, stock photography sites, and thumbnail-sized distribution. On the other side lies a distribution model that prizes photography itself as the thing to appreciate rather than as the vehicle for appreciating something else altogether — jeans, Jeeps, juice bars, etc. 

While the web3 art world opens photographers up to a new arena of photography enthusiasts and collectors, those same photographers might hesitate to go all in for fear of alienating their less tech-forward collectors. Which makes MakersPlace — the first marketplace to offer fiat purchasing and  custodial wallets — absolutely perfect for photographers looking to make the web3 leap.

Bus Ride Home by Joshua K. Jackson

Is it Phygital Photography or Danalog Photography?

With the arrival of MakersPlace’s unlockable NFT capabilities, photographers can work with old-school expectations and new-school delivery mechanisms. 

As photography bridges the divide between the unique and the endlessly reproducible as well as the digital and the physical, unlockable NFTs have presented themselves as the perfect mode of selling and presenting photographic works, allowing collectors access to negatives, prints, contact sheets, photo books, or access to special gated online showrooms. 

Photographer Lawrence “Loupy D” Dotson recently sold out his second drop of exclusive 1992 Tupac live photos that entitled collectors to “unlock” the original photo negative. Photographer Stephen Wayda auctioned off digitized photos with “unlockable” prints available to collectors. He also auctioned off the original contact sheet he used to decide which shots to use from a 1990s photo shoot with Demi Moore. 

Editing Demi’s Film by Stephen Wayda

More Reasons for Photographers to Join Web3

It’s different from but doesn’t compete with your Patreon business. Patreon provides a gallery of images that a photographer will put online for pay, but the photographer retains ownership of those images. An NFT is an asset, an item that can be bought and sold, and as such, it looks much more like photography in the traditional art world than Patreon’s subscription model.

Minting a photograph as an NFT also creates an inviolable record of the relationship between the image and its creator. This means that if someone uses a photographer’s work in any way that violates copyright, they have a sound record verifying them as the original creator.

Beyond retaining indisputable copyright ownership, photographers on the blockchain are able to collect royalties on secondary sales of their work, similar to how actors, writers, directors, and producers can collect royalties on re-runs of TV shows for years to come. 

Candid Candyman by BVB Photography

The Basics of Minting & Selling Photography on MakersPlace

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