Video game photography (or VGP) is a very recent phenomenon within gaming. With game photography, players use in-game techniques to make beautiful photos they then share online. Personally, VGP changed the way I view games. Video game photography is more than just pressing a button.
Since Sony and Microsoft released their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2013, games took a huge step forward graphically. Sony especially decided to take advantage of this by introducing the “share” button on the DualShock 4. Suddenly, you could share screenshots from your game straight to social media. The hashtag “PS4Share” was born, and with it, VGP made a huge leap in popularity.
These days, most single player games come with a photo mode. This means you can open a tool which allows you to immediately edit the frame you are paused on. Usually, you can change the aperture settings, the shutter speed, and the depth of field. Most of the time there’s also a possibility to add filters.
Now, with newer games, photo modes go a step further. Here is where it really takes a step away from other types of photography; certain photo modes allow you to change the weather, the position of the sun, the direction of the wind, and so on. You can even remove yourself or NPCs from a frame. Once you figure out how a game’s photo mode works, there’s nothing stopping you from taking insane shots.
Share Your Shots
Aside from the technical aspect, a big part of VGP is also the social aspect. Twitter and Instagram have entire communities dedicated to VGP. They organise monthly themes, special hashtags, and extra challenges for photographers. Personally, I was immediately welcomed into this community—they aren’t hesitant to answer questions, happily share their own insights, and are always eager to share your shots.
The photo mode that introduced me to this awesome community was Uncharted 4. It’s an amazing tool that you can use both inside and outside of cutscenes (which is still quite rare). There’s no steep learning curve like with other more elaborate photo modes, and yet it has everything you need to take some impressive shots.
After I spent hours replaying Uncharted 4 just to take pictures, I moved on to other games. Up until now, my favourite photo mode of all time has to be Ghost of Tsushima. It gives the player so much freedom to change their shot. It takes a moment to get used to it, but once you do, it’s absolutely mind-blowing how stunning this game is and how much the photo mode compliments that.
For me, a photo mode is a dealbreaker in most single-player adventure games these days. If it doesn’t have one, I’m always very disappointed and still try to take shots without it.
If this article (or my pictures) make you want to try out VGP yourself, then please don’t hesitate to share your work online! Using the hashtag “VGPUnite” will make your work circulate in the community and allow you to meet other photographers.
Now, don’t immediately expect to take the insane shots you’ll see online. After all, it does take some practice. Eventually, though, you’ll get an eye for the right angles and backgrounds to take a good shot. But most of all, just enjoy it! It’s a very unique hobby that often puts a game in a very different light.