Can you imagine the feeling of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826-1827 when he captured the world’s first-ever photograph from his upstairs window?
It took several days of exposure for the black and white photo to materialize and the results were crude at best. Niépce must have known he had created a world of opportunity for capturing, not only fond memories of people, things, and places, but also the imagination of contemporary and future artists.
Today, we may take the billions of floating photographs and jpegs on the internet for granted.
One company is bringing the magic and art of photography back by merging it with Non-Fungible Token (NFTs) to create a buzz around the art industry, to bring fame and fortune to artists.
“Cheeze is a central app for photographers on the NFT marketplace,” Simon Hudson, CEO of Cheeze Inc, told AMEinfo in an interview.
Founded in 2018, Cheeze, Inc. has offices in the UAE and US and the soon-to-be-launched app Cheeze will help people mint their photographs into NFTs, enabling them to trade and sell on the blockchain, exposing photographers to aficionados and collectors by combining the power of the app and a virtual game.
How does this work?
Getting the perfect exposure
“Photography is in our DNA. After exploring photo-sharing apps for private communities, and having experts in the photography space on our board and advisory teams, we figured a picture paints a thousand words. We don’t want to be a jack of all trades, but rather a master of one,” Hudson said describing his company’s focus on photography.
The Cheeze NFT minting studio is catering to professional and amateur photographers.
“We’re builders of technologies and apps that will allow you as a passionate photographer to take a photo, mint it onto the blockchain, create a beautiful gallery, build communities that follow your art, and manage and generate lucrative sales using virtual marketplaces and social media techniques,” described Hudson.
To explain how this works, we need to backtrack a bit.
NFTs and the Cheeze minting studio
NFTs really started on the Ethereum blockchain which was designed to help developers build decentralized apps, or DApps, on top of it.
“Dapper Labs built CryptoKitties and these were really focused on the collectible market. You were then able to create an image, trade it and transport it onto the blockchain,” said Hudson.
About 1.5 years ago, the trend started to boom as digital artists and photographers realized they can create, distribute and get paid residual income via a smart contract such as including a 20% royalty for life from every sale and resale of their artwork.
Today we’re seeing songs, concert tickets, paintings, stamps, even title deeds being sold as NFTs and Hudson believes that NFT domain extensions will start to pop up in the next 5 years as the NFT uptake continues.
“Using the Cheeze app, photographers can mint their photos into an NFT, which is a compression of authenticity symbolizing the legitimacy, uniqueness and/or scarcity of that item.”
Virtual art gallery
In addition to the app, Cheeze is building a virtual museum in the Metaverse, on a virtual game called Decentraland.
Similar in principle to Fortnite, Decentraland is where one can network, wander around and purchase items including land where actual buildings can be erected in the virtual world.
“We are building a digital art gallery where, as a photographer in Cheeze, you come onto the app, mint the photo, showcase it in the App, but you could also choose to have it showcased in our art gallery on Decentraland where 10 to 20 thousand people could be playing or visiting on a daily basis,” said Hudson.
“The virtual land by itself can go up in value. It has gone up 10x to 15x in the last few months, and once bought it can be traded and sold, and as the game gets bigger, it attracts more people and companies like Nifty Gateway and Binance, who have buildings there,” explained Hudson.
According to NonFungible.com, the average price per parcel in Decentraland in 2021 has been $2,703.
“We bought land and are building a digital art gallery to display the art photographers upload in the application and the idea is to advertise but also to sell to visitors or invitees to that geo-location. There are upwards of $2-$3 million already sold in these games.”
To make purchases on Decentraland, one needs Mana coins ($1.06 per coin), which are tokens bought from crypto exchanges and which allow people to go to the game and use digital wallets to make land or other items on sale, such tickets to a show, or artwork.
“We handle the operations of minting photographs and having them displayed as digital photos. If they sell, we handle the payment and the artists behind them get paid via their wallets,” said Hudson.
Cheeze charges a very small fee for validating and processing the image on the Flow blockchain but charges a commission on the art sale ranging anywhere between 15-25%.
“This is very refreshing for photo artists because art galleries usually charge them up to 50%,” indicated Hudson.
Whilst it seems Cheeze is limiting its income prospects to just photographs, Hudson reminded me that this field is very deep.
“We are thinking of partnering with local governments in places where they have archives and history. Having metadata of major cities or unique locations can be used creatively as a time machine,” revealed Hudson.
From superimposing images of what was then, to what is today, to locating other photos taken at an exact geolocation and time, or aggregating exclusive behind the scenes photos of momentous occasions like Formula One, album launches, or live concerts, one can deep dive into photography to create unique, surreal moments that can be minted, shared and traded.
“We really would also like to bring together the 20 top photographers globally and uncover their magic. It would really be the start of bigger endeavors for us and the NFT marketplace,” said Hudson.