In a world full of social media, many might assume there’s no shortage of eyes begging to see good photography.
But if you talk to some photojournalists – those who bring cameras to some of the globe’s most treacherous spots – they might share a different story.
A chorus of photojournalists have not been shy about sounding off. Some, like American photographer Eros Hoagland claim “my pictures and the pictures of my colleagues, they don’t really change anything.”
But some now argue photojournalism, which framed iconic moments like Tank Man for the world, might be in the midst of a revival thanks to non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Welcoming AP’s New NFT Marketplace To An Already-Dynamic Crypto World
News from the Associated Press (AP) in early January details the launch of a new marketplace to sell NFTs of staff photography. The AP is teaming up with Xooa, a blockchain tech platform-as-a-service, to bring the idea to life.
The AP notes the platform will be built on Polygon, a Layer2 solution aiming to offer faster and cheaper transactions. Each NFT will feature a “rich set of original metadata” so buyers know when, where, and how each photo was taken.
Current plans are to launch on January 31st, with NFTs of iconic images covering topic areas like space, climate, and war to be released within the first few weeks as part of the initial collection.
NFTs will be released at “broad and inclusive price points,” according to the AP, with proceeds going back into the non-profit news cooperative to help fund future journalism.
Media reports explain the NFT marketplace will support transactions and purchases with credit cards and crypto wallets, including MetaMask. Support for Coinbase, Binance, and Fortmatic are expected to come down the road.
The AP’s announcement is good news for the NFT world coming off the heels of a banner, record-setting year in 2021. Data from DappRadar reveals NFT sales reached $25 billion in 2021, fueled by interest from companies like Coca-Cola and Gucci who got in on the action.
Statistics show NFT sales were just $94.9 million in 2020.
Will Journalism’s Pivot To NFTs Breathe New Life Into The Media Landscape?
The AP is certainly not the first journalistic outlet to think about NFTs. Both the New York Times and Quartz have sold article copies in NFT form, with the Times’ offering selling for about $560,000 in March.
Getty Images CEO Craig Peters told Bloomberg in December how NFTs were an area the image marketplace has “yet to fully exploit,” further remarking how NFTs represent “a real opportunity for us, and one that we have yet to really scratch the surface of.”
Peters’ comments were notable due to Getty’s deals with major entities like the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, FIFA, and the Olympics, along with the company’s status as image supplier to Dapper Labs, who are behind the NBA Top Shot NFTs.
The move by the AP to launch a NFT marketplace for staff photography is notable for both photojournalism and the wider media landscape.
NFTs could help foster an “ownership element” back to the media, as the Washington Post’s Jarrod Dicker explains, musing how “if we as content creators are able to manage control of assets at the inception of the idea, what dynamics come about that give us more creative control, monetization and agency.”
Many photographers have already turned to NFTs to tokenize work and sell online without worrying about others using images without permission.
As NFTs are totally unique, photographers could tokenize both the original shot and a digitally edited version for more variety.
A growing number believe the type of protection tokenization could provide might spur more photographers to pick up the camera and inspire more interest in photography and photojournalism. Some speculate as NFTs continue to boom in popularity, robust communities might emerge as fans start to ‘follow’ their favorite photographers to catch the next NFT drop.
While time will tell how successful the AP’s NFT marketplace will be, it’s already an important step forward in marrying traditional journalism with cutting-edge technology, a relationship that looks set to only benefit both industries.