On a side note, a troubling aspect of NFTs is the effect on the environment. Crypto art is responsible for tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions generated by the cryptocurrencies used to buy and sell them. There are more environmentally friendly blockchains like FLOW, Solana and Cardano, plus Ethereum 2.0, a vast improvement over the current Ethereum blockchain, is supposedly right around the corner.
With that in mind, I have decided to join Cheeze, a photography-focused media and entertainment company built on the FLOW blockchain, that is set to debut in early 2022. Cheeze is going to be set up like an app-based magazine where articles will include images that are able to be purchased as NFTs. Cheeze will also operate the Muzeum of Photography in Decentraland, the virtual destination for digital assets. Once Cheeze is up and running, I am going to lessen my use of OpenSea and Foundation.
In general, the NFT photography space is dominated by landscape photographers. Street photographers are prevalent, followed by fine art and documentary photographers. There are currently not many photojournalists in the NFT space, probably because many don’t own the copyright to much of their work.
Among others, my friends Barbara Davidson, Michael Christopher Brown, Ben Lowy and Jed Jacobson are some of the photojournalism NFT pioneers dipping their toes into the pool. I, also, have had conversations with MediaStorm founder Brian Storm on how to navigate this exciting new field.
The most successful NFT photographer, so far, is Justin Aversano. Aversano is an artist and curator working within the New York City and Los Angeles art scene. His Twin Flames collection, which he started photographing in 2017, consists of 100 portraits of twins in honor of his deceased fraternal twin. The volume of sales, so far, on the primary and secondary market combined is almost $18 million. The least expensive Twin Flame currently sells on OpenSea for 155 ETH or $620,000.
Another top seller is Alejandro Cartagena with his award-winning Carpoolers’ project. Cartagena is a Mexican photographer who documented pickup trucks driving along the highway that connects Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Laredo, Texas. From a highway overpass, Cartagena photographed men and children sleeping or crammed together in the back of open-aired flatbed trucks.
Isaac “Drift” Wright is possibly the most famous NFT photographer. Wright, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and current urban explorer, was arrested in January 2021 for breaking into and trespassing in multiple buildings in Cincinnati. He was caught after posting the dramatic images of his shoes high above the urban landscapes on his Instagram account, DrifterShoots. His NFT collection “Where My Vans Go” is a darling of collectors.
Discouragingly, the NFT space is male-dominated. Over the past 21 months, women account for just 16% of the NFT art market, according to a report published by the research firm ArtTactic. Additionally, 55% of all NFT sales are by 5% of artists (16 artists in total). Overall, the top 25% of artists account for almost 90% of total values.