Celebrating creators in all worlds

We now exist in worlds within worlds, but still want to capture memories, create art and share it. But how? Through virtual photography, of course.
A screenshot from the video game ‘Eastshade’, taken in the Northwest of the city of Nava by in-game photographer iFZD. It depicts a hot air balloon that has landed on a tree-covered hill at night. Directly behind the balloon at some distance is a planet. It is huge and can be seen mirroring the shape of the balloon, but at a huge scale. The sky is dark, starry and cloud-filled and there are mountains in the background.

Written by Inga Katrine Armstrong

Channel Business Developer, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon Nordics

Art has always been a uniquely human way to capture and interpret the world around us. It acknowledges that we all have very different views, spaces we want to explore and the desire to give others the ability to see ‘through our eyes’. Ultimately, when we create art, we make our presence felt, so naturally, where we will take inspiration from the places where we are present. And today, that includes every kind of reality – including virtual worlds.

‘Virtual photography’ has taken off in a big way and capturing ‘in-game’ images feels very real to the enormous number of players who do it every day. While you might assume it’s as simple as a screenshot, the art of virtual photography has developed a high level of sophistication. Photo mode is available in an increasing number of games, The Last of Us Part 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 being two of a wealth of titles notable and highly rated for their functionality. And like all photography, working in-game requires the same attention to detail and eye for the aesthetically pleasing, as well as the ability to spot the story you want to share. Many players spend a great deal of time manoeuvring the scene, experimenting with angles, light and settings as they might when holding a physical camera. It’s also common practice to use console commands, which adjust the inherent settings of the game, such as time of day or the appearance of in-game cursors, to add, remove or adapt game elements so the shot is perfect.

Of course, the latest game graphics are phenomenal works of art in their own right, and the worlds that virtual photographers explore have previously unseen levels of scale, depth and detail. Coupled with vast and active social media communities, it makes sense that players will want to capture and share their finds in these incredible and often fantastical worlds – just as they do IRL. And as in real world photography, there is often an element of nostalgia, letting players and their communities relive their favourite experiences.

The headshots of three people. On the left, a woman with red hair, wearing a gamers headset. In the centre, a man with his chin resting on his fist. You can see the collar of his denim shirt and he wears a black baseball cap back to front. On the right is a laughing man with his hand lightly covering a part of his nose, mouth and chin. He is wearing a light brown camo shirt and light brown beanie hat. He has a short beard, and his arm bears a tattoo.

L-R: Twitch star AnnieFuschia, photographer Joey Palmroos and in-game photographer Leo Sang.

To pay tribute to all the intrepid virtual creators telling stories of new lands, Canon Nordics organised a live Twitch stream and competition to celebrate ‘Creators In All Worlds’. They invited gamer and streamer AnnieFuschia (who has over 350,000 subscribers on Twitch), in-game photographer Leonardo Sang and content creator and photographer Joey Palmroos to come together for a livestreamed virtual photography class. During the two-hour stream, they explored the photographic possibilities of different locations and how they might set up shots in each – in essence, the trio took a photowalk, but their in-game characters did all the walking. And in the same way you might when out on a walk, they discussed their experiences, how they get their ideas, highlighted potentially great shots when they spotted them and generally got to know each other.

Of course, viewers had the opportunity to get involved on chat and loved the “really pro in-game photography and discussions around the topic.” Once suitably inspired by Annie, Joey and Leo, they were then invited to head to the game Eastshade, to compose an entry to the accompanying Canon competition. Eastshade is a first-person open-world walking simulation, where you explore a fantasy Island with the intention of painting the scenes. As you might expect, this means it’s filled with opportunities for beautiful photographs too.

The figure of a person seated on the paved ground with their back against a tree stump. They are reading a book, but the light and shade obscures the detail of how they look or what they are wearing. In the background of the image are trees and a bridge, seen from the side. The sun shines golden through the bridge, illuminating the ground in front of the figure and some of the trees.

The winning image of Eastshade, taken between Nava and Kestrel's Aerie by in-game photographer Okeli.

The entries were more diverse than you might have thought possible. From wistful landscapes to atmospheric still life, abundant green clifftops and peaceful seas, entrants explored the world of Eastshade and found a wealth of visual stories to tell. Joey and Leo had the daunting task of selecting the shortlisted and winning images from an incredible body of submissions. They unanimously chose one from Okeli, whose dreamlike image of a figure sat reading a book between Nava and Kestrel's Aerie, won them a Canon EOS R10, streaming accessories and two tickets to Dreamhack, Sweden’s hottest gaming convention. They praised his “Great lighting, composition, and story,” saying his piece also had a “nice information hierarchy” and “great layers.”

They announced the top ten in a second Twitch stream, where once again Leo and Joey joined Annie to discuss what made each shot great and also see what the community thought of their selection. There was no disappointment – “A great and diverse array of screenshots”, “All of the top10 were epic” and “big win” reflected the overwhelmingly positive responses that reflect a really supportive creative community in gaming.

Find inspiration for your own virtual photography and what you need to livestream your adventures at Creators In All Worlds. Explore the winning entries in more detail with Joey Leo and Annie on Twitch and learn how to take your own great in-game shots.

Inga Katrine Armstrong Channel Business Developer, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon Nordics

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