For most people, photography is the capture of light on a medium for recording purposes. That’s why it’s called photography – it’s a combination of φωτός (pictures) and γραφή (graf), the Greek words for light and drawing.
However, as hardware became more powerful and games more complex, a new type of photography emerged: virtual photography. It has grown so much that Flickr, one of the largest photo-sharing sites globally, created a category for it.
So what does this mean for you and the art of photography?
Flickr adds a default photography category
In an article about flickr blogCommunity Manager Leticia Roncero announced that they are offering virtual photography as a content category for bulk download and search filtering.
This means that users can set their default upload type as Virtual Photography / Machinima. This new default category is now found next to Photos/Videos and Screenshots/Screenshots and Illusion/Art/Animation/CGI.
When the photo-sharing platform created this category, it had two types of photography – video game footage and content created by the Second Life community. This means that there is a movement big enough that Flickr thought it deserved its own category.
So, if you frequently upload virtual photos, you can log in to your Flickr account, and go to Settings > Privacy and permissions > Defaults for new uploads and click release under What level of security and what kind of content will your photo stream have. From there you can choose Virtual Photography / Machinima and choose Saving changes.
What is virtual photography?
Anyone with a smartphone familiar with photography – just pull up the camera app and take a picture of your subject. But is virtual photography the same? How is it different from screenshots?
Virtual photography started to gain traction when game titles became cinematic. What makes it different from screenshots is that the default shooting is usually done using the in-game portrait mode – this means that you can change angles, exposure, lenses and many other settings.
In comparison, screenshots only capture what you see. The thought and effort behind virtual photography is usually much more than that, which is probably why Flickr saw fit to add it as its own category. We have more A comprehensive guide to virtual photography.
Why is virtual photography growing so fast
Aside from the effort behind virtual photography, there must also be demand in the Flickr community – so much so that it made the photo-sharing platform implement the change. This growth is likely due to the increased capabilities of computers and game engines, which have allowed gamers to experience near-real-life visuals while playing.
This increased aesthetic value is one of the reasons Why gamers love modern games—As human beings, we create art upon inspiration. Cinematic games have brought new ways to explore for gamers who are also interested in photography. It allowed them to capture the beauty and chaos of digital worlds.
And since it’s easily accessible (on your computer or console) and you don’t have to go out to capture virtual scenes, it’s much easier to take virtual photos than real ones – especially during the height of the 2020 pandemic lockdowns.
Another reason people take photos is to preserve memories. As social games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Second Life get stronger, more people are turning to the internet and building real friendships on virtual platforms.
Since these people socialize in a virtual space, they cannot take real-life photos to preserve their memories – instead, they take virtual photos that will remind them of their friendships and experiences.
You can now add your default photos on Flickr
With Flickr positioned as the default upload category option, the photo-sharing platform acknowledges the burgeoning field of virtual photography. And while it may not have an immediate impact on most users, this move is a sign of something more – that virtual photography has a future in our society.
As developers create more cinematic and aesthetic games and as humans build more friendships online, you can expect virtual photography to grow alongside our virtual experiences. And if you have a cinematic game in your favorite gaming setting, why not try virtual photography?