Blockchain is a decentralized system that is based on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It has the capability to not only revolutionize the digital world but also the various sectors operating in the world today. Cryptocurrencies, which are based on blockchain technology are also being integrated into several domains. Along similar lines, one of the most surprising combinations that we see is blockchain in photography.
Blockchain is expected to completely alter the photography and videography industry due to the unexplored potential it possesses. There have been over a trillion photographs clicked in the past ever since the first camera was developed. Of these images, several are stored in the virtual space and might not be printed ever. Blockchain in photography works on these digitally or virtually acquired photos. It helps to buy, sell or trade these assets. However, it might also enable one to destroy their digital stills’ possessions. Want to know more about it? Keep reading!
Photography Digitization And Exorbitant Growth
Photography has immensely evolved in the last two decades in ways that were completely expected. It was first based completely on film roles and then made a shift to digital means through the use of advanced cameras and mobile phones. Thereafter, another notable fact is that since 2000 the number of pictures clicked increased by about 15 times, isn’t that great? From 80 billion clicks in 2000 the industry went on to grab 1.5 trillion images by 2022. That is a whopping increase of over 1,750%.
The digitization of photography and the exorbitant growth it witnessed in the last two decades is one of the reasons why the blockchain domain is venturing out into it. This is because the space is wanting to extend its roots into the world of art. Photography is considered one of the largest growth opportunities for blockchain’s potential applications in the art sector. Moreover, this fact has not been ignored by organizations in the photography sector.
Blockchain In Photography: What Solutions Does It Offer?
Blockchain potential applications in photography are aimed at aiding individual photographers in addition to the organizations that serve as crucial participants in the industry. The network allows them to trade their virtual image assets and artwork with people around the world. The payment is generally accepted in digital currencies (cryptocurrencies). This enables them to extend their reach to those who are outside the geographic boundaries of one’s country. In addition, blockchain technology can be harnessed to maintain the track records of all transactions so that not even a single one is missed and there are no discrepancies.
Through blockchain, a separate domain has been built, the non-fungible token (NFT) space. This can also serve as a market for photographers in the world to sell their art pieces to those who are interested. Also, the payment in cryptos is an opportunity for them to venture into the crypto domain as well without having to struggle on making investments. In addition, blockchain provides security against digital theft which is an important requisite for these photographers. The companies in the domain can also avail of these benefits by incorporating blockchain technology into their work. One can venture into platforms like YouPic Blockchain for images and other photography artwork acquisition.
Comments By Industry Players And Experts
The photography industry participants think that this ambitious project is indeed helpful both to them and the digital world of blockchain. They said protection of their intellectual property is the foremost concern, which this digital technology indeed solves. They also mentioned that the applications of blockchain should be available to everyone on this planet due to its seamless opportunities. The Chief Executive Officer of tech start-up Photochain, Stanislav Stolberg, commented on the same lines and said:
“We are big believers that blockchain applications should be accessible for all.”
He highlighted that the power of blockchain is immense and that it can protect their rights at its best. Also, it is a source of earning for those photographers who have a lot of talent and have clicked alluring stills but are unable to sell them at a market and meet ends. Stolberg and his team have been working towards a mission to enable the photographers and potential buyers to trade and transact the photo assets in a better and more convenient matter. They would employ blockchain technology to meet the goals of their mission. He said that they would not only try to protect the integrity of their work but also:
“Remove a lot of compliance and administration to the license database.”
The technology they are developing would be based on indigenously developed smart contracts. This would aim to simplify the nuance of licenses and restrictions on the photographer’s work for the buyers. However, these licenses won’t be created by Photochain itself. Stolberg explained the concept by saying:
“If in five or 10 years the photographer or the content buyer wants to validate the license, they can do this. Even if Photochain does not exist.”
Adam Broomberg, a former integral part of the artistic duo remembered as Broomberg & Chanarin, started venturing out into knowing about the blockchain domain’s potential applications a few years back. He was interviewed about the same last year where he talked about how he started his journey into the domain saying:
“I decided I had to enter, literally enter, the world of it. I had to see it from the inside. And that was a strange process where (NFT tips) people impart most of the knowledge. I went in there, and I sat, and I listened, and I asked questions.”
He then commented on his connection with photography and how blockchain could help the domain. Bloomberg said:
“I feel completely complicit in the moral impasse photography has presented us from its very inception.”
Adam then talked about his dream of seeing the blockchain technology being “baked into” a photograph’s raw data. He then went on to say about the monetary aspects of it and remarked:
“That means every time an image is made and then generates any financial profit, a share will go to the subject. Harnessing the power of these technologies to bring fairness to photography.”
He, therefore, implied that if the true potential of newer technologies like blockchain is integrated into photography, it can literally do wonders. Adam went on to share thoughts on how these modifications would even aid models who might have been exploited, a surely notable point to mention. Bloomberg explained the concept by saying:
“It is not just about addressing the financial imbalance or the problems with photojournalism but with all sectors of the photographic world. With this new form of contract, a model photographed at age 16 who may have signed a release form for an advertising campaign, would now, a decade later, have the right to challenge the distribution of an image they felt less comfortable with. Terry Richardson, Richard Prince, and many other examples come to mind.”
Therefore, the technology has the potential to extend its help into several other sectors in the world and not just photographers when the integration of blockchain in photography is concerned.
Blockchain And Photograph Editions
This section requires clarity on the distinction between physical editions and digital editions in the photography sector. Photography had not always been considered a form of fine art and it took years for people to actually believe in it. Whenever artists thought of editing their photographs, it was never accepted by society until the 1980s. However, now it is a widely accepted practice among photographers around the world who look forward to creating a market for selling their work. These photograph editions have generally been rolled out in two formats: limited and open.
The limited ones let buyers access the rarely available physical prints. These edition prints are stopped from being printed are a specified number of them are processed. The excess ones are generally destroyed so that the limited edition prints are not used by third parties to make a profit by selling them at higher rates. Blockchain aided the artist to produce the rare digital versions of such limited edition art pieces. In addition, it also lets them destroy any additional copies and protects their intellectual property from digital theft.
The Associate Vice President of Photographs at Christie, Anne Bracegirdle, is a blockchain enthusiast. She has optimistic views on blockchain in photography. To explain her stance she said:
“We are frequently asked about the process of editioning photographs and how we know, with certainty, that editions will not be recreated. Blockchain provides immediate, inherent answers to these questions and appears to be a natural fit for editions. Providing transparency and guaranteed security with editions would dissolve any sense of related concern from potential buyers. If secured on the blockchain, all new prints offered on the market would be recorded and accessible to, theoretically, the artist’s gallery, clients, and art market professionals. These changes would be instantly visible to all, creating an organic ‘regulation’ of sorts. This transparency benefits artists too, who generally do not wish to dilute their market or inadvertently deter potential buyers.”
Therefore, we can rightly say that blockchain in photography has immensely aided the digitization of it. It takes care of both ends involved in the process. There are companies that have designed platforms on blockchain for images to be sold digitally. They have accomplished their goals successfully.
A Photogenic Round-Up!
The implementation of blockchain in photography has definitely revolutionized the sector. From the provision of security to intellectual property to enabling a market to sell photography art pieces, blockchain potential has literally done it all. Also, payment in cryptocurrencies is an added advantage for them to explore this space as well. In addition, it also aids artists in selling their limited edition prints through digital modes while providing security against online theft. It is expected that as this technology improves and its incorporation in the photography sector increases, it would lead to some sheerly unimaginable outcomes in the field. If you are interested in venturing into companies in the sector that use blockchain then do check out the ones we have mentioned in the article: YouPic Blockchain and Photochain.