NTF: Street Photography in the Blockchain
Sam Bohorquez discovered photography while studying at university. After living a traumatic event, she connected totally with it and started to do street photography. Since then, for Sam, taking a photograph is to be present. The first city she photographed was Bogotá, and she is planning to edit a photo book with all the files she has from this and other cities.
Last year, Sam started to explore different ways of selling her photos through the NFT market. She already knows photographers that are making a living from their photography with this possibility.
¿What is good street photography for you?
Street photography is a projection of oneself, it is almost a self-portrait. Each one looks for what is interesting to them, it depends a lot on how you have grown, on what you have in your unconscious. I look to see the interaction and human behavior. For example, how the kids behave in the street take my attention.
I look for unique, spontaneous, and genuine behaviors. It is not an interaction that I made up, but something that I see happening, and there I focus my camera.
Which are your major influences? Which contemporary female street photographers do you recommend to us?
My major influences are the classic masters of street photography such as Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, Sergio Larraín, William Eggleston.
The truth is that it is a medium dominated by men, however, some contemporary female photographers are very interesting. Now I think of the Spanish Orietta Spinola, the Colombian Marcela Rico, and the Chilean Alejandra Parra.
Do you make a living from street photography?
I am a graphic designer. I would love to make a living only from photography but it is too hard. Even though, now there is a possibility but it hasn’t been materialized yet, I still live off doing branding.
Tell us about that possibility
It is about the NFT (Non-Fungible Token). It is a unique and unrepeatable digital token that certifies the authenticity of a piece and is collectible. This year, there is a boom in the most artistic photography in the NFTs. I started in that world around three months ago, and I have been selling my photos at a good price.
A big photography community has been generated around it, and there are some recognized photographers with a lot of experience. Famous people who are creating good well-curated photography, especially documentary photography.
And how do NFTs work?
The pandemic prompted the issue because all this cryptocurrency and NFTs exploded at the same time. In the middle of the confinement, digital art, first, began to gain a lot of strength. In March, a collage was sold for $ 69 million. By July, photography began to gain more strength. Everything is related to cryptocurrencies because you are paid like this, in this case in Ethereum, which can then be changed to real money.
The community is on Twitter. Instagram unfortunately for photographers is going down quite a bit because it is focusing more on video. In these communities on Twitter, many photographers began to form collections that are later mounted on platforms. There are several, for example, there is Opensea, where you upload your collection and you can start selling your photos.
What do you have to do to sell photos?
Have a well-established job and interact with the community on Twitter where collectors and photographers or other artists are. I spent a month without selling anything, just looking for information.
Now the topic is exploding, Tarantino is going to sell NFT and the big brands like Visa or McDonalds are entering. So if you want to sell and make yourself known this is a good time, on Twitter you have to use various hashtags and interact with the community.
This is a bit of a start, but it is also a good time to take advantage of because there are still few people and there is not so much competition. The best thing is to start researching, there is even a Platzi course.
Some people fear losing ownership or control over their works.
Many are there because you sell the authenticity of the work, not even the work itself. It’s hard to explain, but it’s not even the final png – it’s a jpg. When selling the work, it is registered in a chain of blocks (blockchain, they call it in the crypto world). That record indicates that the work is by this artist, and no one can take that away from you. It is very reliable and that is why both collectors and artists are there. In the end, what they are buying is a certificate that indicates that this work is authentic.
These platforms have smart contracts, although they are still very ambiguous. And they are just being built and formalized. However, these contracts can indicate what can and cannot be done with the image.
Does that mean that the image can continue to be exhibited or circulated?
What you cannot do is put the same work on another platform. For example, you sold it on Opensea, you cannot offer it on Super Rare, which is a more curated platform. Unless you have offered more than one edition, and in that case, you could only upload the amount you have set. But you can continue exhibiting, make photo books. Collectors are interested because the image will be reproduced and circulated more times.
Another thing that must be taken into account is the image use rights of each country. In Colombia, for example, there is no problem if the photo was taken in public spaces, in that case, you do not need a transfer of rights. But there are countries where it is mandatory to have permission from all the people who appear in the photos.
What is your advice for people who want to get started in the NFTs?
Research, review what is being talked about on Twitter. And above all to be part of the communities that are emerging. Discord is a good platform before it was focused on gamers, but now many photographers are using it to talk about these issues. In these communities, photographers show their work, 15 or 20 days ago a very interesting one was created on photography, and there are already contests being held and there are scholarships.