Virtual Photography

I don’t feel a complete portfolio of my work as an artist is whole without acknowledging Virtual Photography. Elitists dismiss it but it’s much more than gamers snapping pics of their favorite game. It can be that too and that is fine. But if you dig into the community you’d begin to understand. It’s a tool. A trainer. A blade with which to sharpen the eyes of artists everywhere. But it’s so much more than just that. It’s storytelling. I often direct a movie in my head and try to capture a single frame from that movie with my screenshots. It’s comic relief. Our shots can be fun, or even embody commentary on the gaming or the real world we all know, without ever saying a word we chuckle. We connect and laugh together in a moment we share across the span of oceans sometimes. I’ve found the Twitter photographic community to be very welcoming for both my work in the real world and my work in-game. The funny thing is that they are three completely separate profiles. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

There is a strength in having a photo mode at your disposal that goes beyond the game itself. I think #photomode might just make or break game buying decisions in the future. What a company stands to lose not having one is immense. What they will certainly lose is the support of a creative group of fans whose images give new life to games that might have died on the vine more oft than not without those cool photo mode captures flooding onto social media. If not for that community, that love, that sharing of imagery. Of friends, family, good times, laughs, and gamer fantasies come true… that’s marketing companies can’t buy. It has value beyond belief in that hive mind of creatives buzzing away. As I write this I walk down the planks of an abandoned hurricane decimated Coney Island boardwalk for a fashion shoot in the middle of the night with my favorite agent. From the comfort of my couch.¬† I think #photomode is an evolution of an artform. It allows new and experienced photographers alike a great place to find, craft, or simply revisit their “eye”.

I’ve been a photographer for 25+ years. One of my favorite things about what photography gives me is that moment. If you shoot, you know the moment. Where nothing exists between the image I see in my head and the machine in my hands I translate it through. And when you feel that connection between yourself and your camera everything falls away but that moment right before the click. It feels like hours sometimes. Gamers, we spend hours with that controller in our hand. PlayStation or Xbox, Computer, etc. Whatever your platform you prefer. With Virtual Photography that controller becomes your camera. Lining up angles, positioning lighting, finding your focal, setting your composition up, finding the right spot for a shoot and scouting the light, the weather, etc. That moment before the click still exists.

I all but lost my connection to that during the pandemic. My work dried up. I lost my job. I lost a lot of my self worth and virtual photography gave it back to me. Picking up a controller felt like picking up my camera. They are one in the same artform at the very heart of it all. For me anyway. And I can get lost in it. It’s a form of therapy, that as an artist, I’ve haven’t ever been able to buy. I love sharing that with all of you. The virtual photography community has been open arms from day one. I never thought I’d see a group of gamers, notoriously salty, stand by and support each other the way this community does. I’m not ashamed. I’m honored to be a part of it.

Making friends we can’t live without. Left to Right – NjaGator, Hiho Chicken, GiddyAxe, and agent Painenn, me.

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