Flash, Flash, Video Game Photography
These days, video games are so beautifully crafted, how could you not take a picture? This used to be difficult before next generation video game consoles came on the scene. But when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One shipped out, they came equipped with a nifty little feature that allows gamers to take a picture of what they're playing whenever they want. This has since given console players a freedom PC players have held long before.
But it isn't just about taking an in-game screenshot. Some players go beyond this to turn screenshotting into an art. They meticulously place characters where they need to be. They observe how the lighting falls and where the shadows appear. They see every piece of a video game's world with a photographer's eye. Their eye becomes the camera.
While taking in-game screen shots isn't anything new, the phenomenon of video game photography has taken flight. Players evoke the same feelings with their photos as painters would with their pieces. There's an entire Reddit page dedicated to gaming photography. Duncan Harris' website DeadEndThrills is something of a master volume of the best video game photography the community has seen. Similarly to photojournalism, the photos are not altered in Photoshop, but taken as they appear with little interference except for the mods used to allow for more camera freedom.
Harris approaches his work as a true photographer would. In a 2015 interview with Kill Screen he said, "Assuming all the basics like lighting and composition are there, the great screenshot is one where the person has added something of themselves or their experience that’s not supplied by the game. That’s how you elevate the medium, or at least take people by surprise."
Photojournalism is about staying as true to the original moment as you can, but leaving a personal touch. If you can't do this, then how does your style differ from any other journalist with a Canon EOS 5D?
Some developers have taken note of this increased interest in screenshotting. Game developers such as Naughty Dog, the company behind beloved series Crash Bandicoot, feature a photo capture option in some of their games that lets you pause whenever you like to take a detailed photo. What's unique is the set of tools at your disposal. You can adjust camera angles, field of depth, exposure and more, just as with a digital camera.
I've been playing a lot of Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which has this photo feature. I decided to try my hand at screenshotting as I played through various adventures. You can find a photo set I created for it on my Flickr. Keep in mind, these photos are all taken in-game. Some may appear almost like video game box art, but that shows you the power of Naughty Dog's photo capture option. I kept everything with a crisp white border to mimic what a postcard would look like. Every photo, to me, is a postcard of my adventures. Stay tuned for future photo essays of other games!