What is In-Game or Virtual Photography

Is Virtual Photography the future?

At first, this in-game photography or virtual photography thing sounds like a bit of nonsense. So far the hobby or profession has flown under the radar of most but with the rapid surge in the technology of today’s computers and graphics cards the results can be jaw-dropping, and I can’t help but think. Is this future of photography?

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So what is In-Game Photography?

Think of the traditional DSLR completely replaced by a computer and some software (games). You move around within 3D space inside a game searching for great light, compositions and ways to tell a story through static captures, exactly as you do in the real world, just virtually. Click here to see some examples of my own personal in-game photography.      


The above is in simple terms. It can be a little more complicated than that once you take into account that every game has a different way of operating in-game camera’s, as well as the technical setup. With anything like this though, it does become second nature when you start putting in the time and effort.


Below is a screenshot from one of the best implementations of photo-mode at this time. Forza Horizon 5 certainly is the benchmark when it comes to ease of use making the virtual photography aspect of it such a joy to use. A traditional photographer will see familiar tools like, focus, exposure & aperture along with a suite of other virtual photography tools.

forza horizon 5 photo mode

Not Just a Screen Grab!

Some people will still say “it’s just a screengrab” but as a professional photographer myself, I can tell you it’s much more complex than that. The screengrab is essentially equivalent to hitting the shutter button on a real-life camera. All of the same creative decisions pre and post-image exist just as they do in the real world. Many real-world photography problems don’t exist inside most games but you do have a deal with a whole new set of in-game problems and these can change from game to game which can make things a bit tricky. 


There is a massive benefit shooting in-game and it’s probably what I like most about it. When operating an in-game camera you often have the moment paused or Frozen in time. This gives you an unlimited amount of time to perfect your shot. From focus to exposure and composition, you can take as much time as you want or need and you even have some control over the scene itself. Now that’s what I call a creators playground and for me, this is very refreshing. It only adds to this crazy world I find myself immersed in and I find the skills I learn in virtual photography seamlessly transfer over into the real world and vice versa.

How Did I discover In-Game Photography?

I have been a graphic artist and professional photographer for over 20 years. I’m also an avid racing game fan and more recently developed a passion for sim-racing. This led me to create my own racing car paints within iRacing. From here, I needed to get some images of the car on track with my newly designed paint. This is where photo mode or virtual photography comes into play. I open up the replay mode within iRacing software and start messing around with the in-game cameras. And that’s it. I’m hooked. The freedom to create like this within a racing title/video game amazes me. The joy I get from real-world photography and virtual in-game photography is completely shared. To find out more about my journey to and through in-game photography and the creation of Epic Fidelity click here.


Never did I think I would gain the same enjoyment and satisfaction from virtual photography as I do in the real world. It blows my mind and I can’t wait to see where it goes and watch the talent all around the world pour into this amazing new idea of what photography is and can be.


We are only just scratching the surface of what’s possible with this new medium, as technology advances and the gaming industry continues to accelerate. Virtual or in-game photography is here to stay, there will be some that turn their noses up but it’s the same when anything new like this comes along.  I’m excited to see where we will be in 5-10 yrs time and with the constant development of software and hardware alike this little niche part of the photography world is sure to explode.