If you’re reading this you have most likely landed here looking for information & answers about creating and selling your photography work as a non-fungible token.
I’m going to cut right to the quick of this and say “I smell something really rotten here.”
I’m not going to try an explain how block chains work and I’m not going to talk about crypto currency because none of that has anything to do with the sleight of hand that is happening here.
So, let’s start off with understanding “sleight of hand” and how it works. Once you understand this and how it is being used, you’ll start to be able to peel back the layers of the rotten onion known as an NFT.
Sleight of hand is an age-old technique that dates back 1840. It is a technique of manipulation used to entertain and is often confused as magic because it is most often performed by magicians. However, what we are seeing today in the realm of NFTs is not your average magician’s sleight of hand and it is not being used to entertain you at all. Rather, it is being used to fool you into thinking you can make quick money.
Let me first warn you that even when someone is to show you how sleight of hand is used to perform a magic trick it is often mind boggling to understand. Why? Because some of the best sleight of hand will have several steps… and then of course there are others that will dazzle you in one fell swoop.
With NFTs we are seeing a multi-step approach to creating an appearance that you can make a lot of money really fast.
Here is what happened to me and in my opinion, what is really going on.
So, there is a very well-known female New York City based photographer, I am not going to call her out by name however we have all seen her work on the cover of Vogue and many other places. Her work is stellar, I admire her work and her style. In fact, I have sat through many of her online tutorials and I feel that she has a lot to offer the photography community. Now, with that said; this photographer is also a business woman and taking photos is not her only form of income. She uses her reputation to create several collateral business opportunities. Much the same way a sports or entertainment personality uses their reputation/identity to generate additional forms of income. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this and I think most of us would do the same.
So where is the sleight of hand?
I open my email and I see this famous photographer claiming that she sold her very first NFT for x amount of dollars. Yes, I was all ears and of course I clicked on the link that took me to a video where she tells her story. Actually, it was a series of videos where she starts off explaining block chain, crypto currency and crypto wallets. All of this is nothing new to me because I have been involved with “roller coaster” crypto currency trading since 2017. However, I knew nothing about non-fungible tokens so I was still all ears and taking it all in. I spent the rest of that evening thinking about creating my own very first NFT and placing it for sale. I had two particular images that I am very proud of and that have created a lot of interest over the years. I kept thinking; “Could it be true? Could I really make money? Could I really make big money?” And the answer is yes & no.
Here is how the deception is set up. There are several steps to making an NFT and then of course there is the question of what market place will I place my NFT in? All of these so-called market places want your business, the crypto dealers want your business, the companies creating crypto wallets want your business. What better way to get your business than to have you hear a great success story from a well-known artist or photographer. Imagine I am (or you are) anyone of these companies involved. Let’s say you are the owner of a market place platform and you want to drive business to your site. What would you do? Also keep in mind this whole NFT & crypto world is in its infancy so you need to put people out there that can “get the word” out there. You get well known artist to create and sell on your platform. So, a well-known artist lists an NFT and it sells right away. Who bought it? Was the transaction legit?
Remember I said at the beginning of this post that sometimes sleight of hand can have many steps leading up to the grand finally.
Let’s take a little side trip back many years ago to good ole eBay. When we shop on eBay or even Amazon one of the things, we look at is “is the seller a reputable dealer.” We look at their feedback rating. Years ago, I spent countless hours, days & weeks studying dealer activity on eBay. This was as about as exciting as watching paint dry but here’s what I found.
A dealer creates an eBay ID and he then starts selling hundreds of little worthless “what-nots,” things like hex nuts (yes hex nuts) and he sells them for just a few cents. Who is buying them? He is buying them (himself) through other IDs he created. Every transaction gets a positive feedback rating and soon he has thousands of transactions listed to his profile and he has a 100% rating. Sure, this cost him money but he’ll get this money back in the long run. Essentially, he is investing in his business. After creating a huge 100% positive feedback rating the seller’s ID goes dormant for a while because after a certain amount of time eBay doesn’t let us see those previous sales but they do let us see that the seller has a high 100% feedback rating. Now that you can’t see the dealer’s previous sales the seller starts selling items like crazy. They could be good quality items or they could be total crap either way he is selling thousands of cheap “what-evers” (not hex nuts) and people have confidence in the seller because of the high rating. And it was all done by way of a modern-day sleight of hand.
In my opinion the NFT craze is experiencing a very similar thing. Well-known artists are creating a selling NFTs and making it all look legit to drive traffic or business to certain platforms and this will also make a path for them to create and sell online NFT tutorials for us to buy. Call it sleight of hand or smoke & mirrors… it all washes out to be deceptive. Is it illegal? I don’t know the answer to that but’ I do know when something smells rotten it usually is rotten.
As photographers, artists and creators we all have work that we are very proud of and we would all like to make money from our hard work that we have put into creating. Please know I am not saying that a creator can’t make money selling NFTs. What I am saying is “be very careful and do a lot of research before you start laying out money creating and listing your work as an NFT.”