The photo NFT market is one of the most fast-paced places to be in 2022. There are several reasons for this. Photographers continue to innovate in how they create and present their work. The creators are also mostly known, and their identities are public and real names are revealed, which means you get to see their progression and how their journey unfolds.
However, the photo NFT market exists in a realm of a general NFT market, and that still exists inside of a crypto market, so when the bear market hits crypto, it disproportionately affects photo NFTs, as they are a derivative of a derivative.
Since April 2022, the NFT market is down about 80% in fiat currency, and even while the volume seems to be around the same in number of NFTs traded, both the dollar and crypto amounts are lower.
So let’s unpack what are the trends that keep the photography NFT market going right now:
Editions are undoubtedly the major trend of the summer. Many photographers have slowed down the release of their 1/1s and focused on editions. There’s a clear path to increasing a list of collectors, forming new connections, and having a playful approach to collecting. Most editions are priced from 0.015 to 0.08Ξ, with a strong bell curve “bulge” at 0.02-0.04Ξ. There’s a wide range of edition sizes, from 10 to 365, with an average being somewhere in the 20-40 edition range, meaning an average edition is aiming for roughly 0.9Ξ in total sales. At Sloika, we have retooled our systems to support numbered editions, **minted at a price of un-numbered editions, and have released many beautiful editions in August.
Obviously, there are many blockchains today. In fact, Coinmarketcap tracks over 20,000 different coins, many of which exist as a currency of their own blockchain. Many artists flocked to Tezos in July, primarily for its speed and low cost of transactions. There are about 22,000 artists on two top Tezos marketplaces, compared with about 450,000 on two major Ethereum marketplaces. The comparison isn’t a direct one, as Tezos started to attract a lot of independent creators vs major “blue-chip” PFP projects. The average transaction size on Tezos is about $12. Despite all the hype and ease of use, the Tezos art community, as a whole, represents just 0.38% of Ethereum NFTs. And while Tezos is cheaper overall, we optimized our code on Sloika and recently minted 33 ERC-721 NFTs for just $11, or about 33 cents each. Still, it’s great to keep your eye on how alternative blockchains, like Solana, Polygon, Flow, NEAR, Hedera, Avalanche, and others evolve over time to serve the artists.
Lastly, several of our friends, including Marco Grassi, have recently experimented with free mints. This is when an NFT is given away for free, as long as a collector simply pays for gas to mint it. As of writing this, OpenSea lists 4-5 free mints in the top 50 photography collections, whereas a couple of months ago that number was zero. There are likely to be different reasons behind this for different creators, but clearly it is a way to expand one’s own influence, find new collectors, and have fun. With free mints, photographers can generate more publicity, use the tokens for some utility, such as access to workshops or educational materials, and, if successful, receive creator royalties on a resale in perpetuity.
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