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Art of in-game photography

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What is in-game screenshotting?

"Photography is everywhere. With the rise of mobile devices, we are used to carrying powerful cameras literally in our pockets, at any time, anywhere - and so we take pictures. It’s hard to recall the time when taking a photo was limited to special occasions, because equipment, films and development were so expensive. Our parents took pictures as well, but fewer by far, and only on special occasions: pictures of holiday sights, birthday celebrations, landmarks, special moments. With the ease and cheapness of digital photography, our motives have changed: Now, we take pictures of ordinary things, funny things, of shopping lists, clouds, everyday occurrences.

And, of course, we still immortalize the special moments in our lives - the grand vistas, the momentous occasions, the triumphs and memorable achievements. And as with many other things, these moments have also drifted into the virtual spaces we inhabit.

Games are spaces of experience as much as entertainment. It shouldn’t surprise us that the photographic gaze, that eye for composition and purely visual aesthetic, finds ample opportunity for snapshots in these virtual spaces. In fact, it’s surprising that in-game-photography - for purely aesthetical reasons as opposed to documenting victories or snapping a pic of an impressive vista for use as a desktop wallpaper - is still as unexplored a country as it still seems to be.

The best-known and most widely publicized of these pioneers is Duncan Harris of deadendthrills . The English games journalist compares his ultra-stylish, high-gloss pictures of games tweaked to look their very best to still photography in movie production, and like movie stills, his work is increasingly professionally used by game companies to promote their products. Last year, Harris was even given an advance build of Dishonored, Arkane’s steampunk-thriller, to fuel anticipation and provide an advance glimpse into the game’s stunning visual world." - Rainer Sigl , videogametourism.at

GTA V In-game Screenshot

GTA V

"My issue with “videogame photography” is simply that it does more harm than good. It obscures what should be a very clean and simple appreciation for the work of videogame artists; it's the weapon of choice for drive-by clickbait articles looking to start fights; and yes, it drastically overestimates about 90 per cent of what it's applied to. To wit: if you take a screenshot of a character model walking towards a largely static piece of scenery, however well it's composed, you're not an artist, you're a tourist. And don't get me wrong, that applies to most of the stuff on Dead End Thrills as well.

As far as art or photography goes—and this goes back to what I was saying about screenshotters versus photographers—the difference is really that you're working in a controlled, artificial and technological universe with screenshots. That makes it more akin to fashion photography, I suppose, but that still doesn't cover the understanding you need of the way games behave, the code that drives them, and what you can and can't control." - Duncan Harris , killscreendaily.com

Dying Light

Dying Light

"The art of in-game-photography is still in its infancy, but it seems obvious that, with constantly increasing photorealism and the popularity of open-world-games, more and more photographers will also look for inspiration and picture opportunities in virtual worlds".  Rainer Sigl , videogametourism.at

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