Virtual Photography is an emerging art form.
Though many still might not have heard of it, virtual photography has been truly taking off in the creative community. Much of virtual photography started with video games. With game graphics becoming ever more realistic, games often include what's called a 'photo mode.' These photo modes, as well as other software tools, allow users to create digital photos of game environments and scenes. The tools offer many functions you'd find on a real camera such as focal length and aperture. Users take screenshots of the games and share them with online communities, enter them in competitions, of just enjoy it as a method of virtual tourism.
Virtual photography has been debated as a valid art form, as copyright questions are raised when taking imagery of assets owned by companies and created by other artists. However, virtual photographic work has been on display at prominent physical galleries across the world, and sometimes these artists are even hired by the game publishers to take this imagery for the marketing of these games.
Virtual photography goes beyond the realm of video games though. As advances in rendering technology allows for the creation of photorealistic images, some companies are turning to virtual photography for marketing of their products. Software such as Adobe Stager provides a full 3D model photo studio.
Video game engines such as CryEngine and Unreal can create photoreal digital representations of homes for real estate and interior design purposes. These tools allow for full control over virtual lighting of both natural and artificial sources.
Virtual photography has become a core hobby of mine. During the pandemic, the number of in-person photoshoots I was engaging in plummeted. Taking photos in these different game worlds was absolutely essential in maintaining practice of my photography skills during these times of extended isolation. Many of the same principles of composition, aesthetics, color, and lighting carry right over from taking photos in the real world.
Let's not forget that Photography itself was debated as an art form during its infancy. It was asked how one could be an artist if they're just pushing a button. But photography as an art form became established and respected. Virtual Photography is a creative outlet for many, and a true extension of photography itself. Like taking pictures in the real world, it's something I see myself never giving up.
Indie game makers and large publishers alike could definitely use those with virtual photography experience to help them market their games. If you happen to be in the world of game development looking to create better screenshots of your projects, please feel free to real out to explore a collaboration!