Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Does Game Photography Translate to Real World Photographer?

Thanks to the A.V. Club today for a well thought-out article about gaming photography. More specifically, can taking photos in games make you a better photographer in the real world?

I'm a sucker for taking screen shots. Love them. Can't get enough of them. I will scour through the worlds of Doom, Dragon Age, and Uncharted to find moments to capture with a click of a button. Scenery, action shots, still-life, you name it. One of my favorite areas to photograph is Nar Shaddaa Star Wars: The Old Republic. Probably known as one of the more annoying zones with the amount of travel required to move around the map, I love how vibrant the city life is with the casino and neon lights. But I also enjoy how quiet some areas can be. You can watch NPC's in their daily activities, creatures skitter across the screen, and find peace in an area full of noise that can be easily distracting.

Gaming photography has become a genre of it's own over the years, and I enjoy seeing the content that has been produced. But having the ability to take photos in video games is really easy. Even without modding the games, a click of a button or a key press and you're done. The lighting, models, and location are pre-determined. You work around them to fit your visual needs. So how does this translate into real world photography?

To start, I think photography in video games is still a novelty for the majority of people. We mostly take screenshots or videos to show off our skills, or if we see a glitch that we want to parade around the internet. Glitches are funny. I do this too (and part of my day job is photographer and videographer), so it's not as though professionals are immune to it. And we're aware that without extensive moding, or a really nice developer to think on our behalf, getting traditional camera angles is near impossible, thus rendering the art a challenge beyond the traditional barriers.

But I do like where the A.V. Club article is going with their thought process. While it may not give you the intricate details on how to work a camera, you can pick up some of the basics. How to frame a shot. How to adjust your position to alter lighting and shadows. When to take a photo - because yes you can take too many pictures and waste your frames and your batteries on pointless shots. Digital cameras only have a certain number of clicks before they suffer from overuse and fail. It could also change your outlook on life. Photographing people in Grand Theft Auto V could allow you to see them differently, because you are viewing them through a different lens. You're not passing them casually on a sidewalk, but engaging with your subject through a photograph.

Now, you shouldn't take all your photography cues from video games. There is more to life then first person shooting action, and taking images from the waist up (since a number of games have fixed cameras). But gaming can be an inspiration to pursue a new art form.

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