In this edition of Through The Virtual Lens, I managed to talk with Firescorpio about their experiences in the world of Virtual Photography. Virtual Photography is a growing discipline that utilizes the ever-popular “Photo Mode” settings in Video Games to capture beauty and art from virtual worlds.
The term “Virtual Photography” may not be one you hear often, but it is simple-enough to understand. Where “Traditional Photography” deals with precisely composed images captured and developed onto film, “Virtual Photography” deals with precisely composed images captured within video games. It is, by all accounts, a natural evolution of the discipline in the modern age. Thankfully, Game Developers are helping to foster the growth of this field. They are undoubtedly helping to foster the growth of a new kind of artistic expression. It makes sense, though, given the ever-improving virtual worlds the industry is presenting us with.
Through this series of articles, I want to talk about Virtual Photography with Virtual Photographers. I will be asking about their reasons for becoming a Virtual Photographer, their opinions on the current state of in-game Photo Modes, the Virtual Photography community as a whole and anything else they have to say!
In this installment of Through The Virtual Lens, I got a chance to talk with Firescorpio. He is pushing Virtual Photography to it’s limits with his work.
You can find a link to their Twitter Account here: Firescorpio Twitter
As always, I started off by asking how Firescorpio began his Virtual Photography.
Like many of his peers, Firescorpio appeared to stumble upon an in-game Photo Mode while playing one day. However, Firescorpio admitted that he fell into it during a tough time in his life.
“I first got into it more heavily after a failed personal project… had little incentive and I was depressed. I wasn’t really playing as I normally would.”
As much as in-game Photo Modes are a great form of artistic expression, it’s important to remember that they’re also a part of that escapism video games afford us. It seems that Firescorpio has found a way to enable both with his incredible work.
When I asked him about where he started, though, he suggested a title that I was not expecting. Shadow of Mordor was where it officially began for Firescorpio. I didn’t even know Shadow of Mordor had a Photo Mode, in truth!
“In the moment, [the Photo Mode in Shadow of Mordor] felt like a cool gimmick. I never thought it would become my main way to interact with video games.”
I say officially because this is where Firescorpio first started using in-game Photo Modes. He actually started his Virtual Photography with Bioshock Infinite, apparently spending “too much time taking screencaps”. The practice has clearly made perfect!
Then, I delved into Firescorpio’s opinions on Photo Modes, and which ones are the best!
In regards to the “Best Photo Mode”, Firescorpio gave a familiar answer.
“It would be a two-way tie between Ghost of Tsushima and Jedi: Fallen Order. I’ve added Jedi: Fallen Order for a sole reason: The Spotlight Feature.”
Both of these titles are a popular choice, it seems, and it is clear to see why. The Spotlight Feature in Jedi: Fallen Order does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows the Virtual Photographer to place a Spotlight (or “big ass light”, according to Firescorpio) anywhere they’d like. He believes it should be an industry standard as lighting is an important part of Virtual Photography, and I’m inclined to agree.
Ghost of Tsushima just pips Jedi: Fallen Order though, if Firescorpio had to choose. He believes that it has taken everything that made the in-game Photo Mode in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Days Gone special… And raised it to another level.
Talking more generally about Photo Mode Features, Firescorpio reinforced his support of Jedi: Fallen Order’s Spotlight.
“As mentioned before, the Spotlight Feature in Jedi: Fallen Order should be an industry standard. Basically, it’s all a Photo Mode is missing in order to become Studio Photography.”
Following on from this, Firescorpio also showed support for the ability to alter in-game character emotions and poses when in Photo Mode. He mentioned Horizon: Zero Dawn and Death Stranding in regards to this. However, these were just “would be nice” features.
The features that are a must, in Firescorpio’s eyes, are Tilt or Roll functions.
“I hate when Photo Modes limit the user to a horizontal image, or 45 degrees and less.”
Depth of Field and Focus controls also got a mention, alongside Exposure and Weather Controls. After this though, Firescorpio actually gave me a description of his perfect Photo Mode! Clearly it’s something that’s been on his mind, and I am inclined to agree with him.
“Instead of having sliders, it would have a “lense” equivalent and an option to zoom, or just move like real life. Finally, particles and props. Ghost of Tsushima has particles and it adds so much depth to the images… I’d love to see robust Photo Modes be a default, not a rarity.”
Ghost of Tsushima’s particles could be the difference, as it has proven a popular favourite. That, and the fact that the whole game is stunningly beautiful.
Firescorpio’s work fits into a niche within Virtual Photography. A lot of it involves creating Posters with his Virtual Photographs! I asked him about this process.
It turns out, Firescorpio has been working with Posters for a long time.
“I’ve always made Posters as a hobby… After Games and Films, It’s my biggest passion.”
In regards to linking Poster work with Virtual Photography, he said that it sort of just clicked! The process of making a Poster used to take Firescorpio a couple of days. However, with his Virtual Photography work he can “pump out at least ten a day”.
“I can bring the same quality visually and design-wise… It has also helped me keep my mind sharp, active, and constantly in a state of creativity that has actually made me a much better creative at work… It has helped me evolve so much as a professional.”
Firescorpio, along with this, also shared a link with me full of the kinds of posters he used to work on! When you check them out, it’s clear to see why they’d take a few days! They’re an incredible display of conceptual graphic design. Check them out here: Firescorpio Behance Posters
His work with Posters and Photo Modes has unexpectedly fed into his knowledge of pop culture references and has only improved his work within the Virtual Photography Community.
With this level of detail in the technicality of his work, you’ll be surprised to know that Firescorpio has worked and studied within Film and Graphic Design. Here’s how it has helped him…
Firescorpio believes that a lot of the skills translate between the two disciplines seamlessly, especially image composition.
“That’s what I always tell anyone who wants to learn the rules of the game: Composition, Composition, Composition.”
He believes that it takes the same skills to set up a shot in the Virtual World as it does in Reality, and I think most people would agree. Composition is an important part within any discipline of Photography. Firescorpio believes that his understanding of Composition and Framing helps him to compose far-more intricate images.
“Virtual Photography has refined my framing in such a way that I am a far better cinematographer now than I was four years ago… It’s unlocked an ultra instinct when it comes to it… Now it takes me half [as much time], or less.”
It is clear to see that Firescorpio has a lot of talent and that it is being recognized. I asked him about his experiences within the Virtual Photography Community and with having a Community of his own growing!
“There have been ups and downs initially… I found the community to be very much like High School… Looking past that I have found a fantastic corner… Some of the most delightful human beings I am happy to call friends.”
Thankfully, it seems Firescorpio has had a positive experience! I haven’t even scratched the surface of the Virtual Photography community, but I can assure you that it is one of the most supporting online.
Regarding his own Community, however, Firescorpio found it a little daunting. He feels like he can’t always keep up with the pace he has set himself and feels like people expect him to continually “pump out amazing photos”.
“I get anxiety that I’ll become forgettable, but I guess that’s more of a personal thing.”
I think it’s safe to say that this is the curse any creative suffers. Anyone who strives for greatness is continually doubting themselves and having a growing online following is undoubtedly daunting. This isn’t all of it, though!
“I’ve found there are so many avenues to share and grow… People are genuinely thrilled to see my work which is honestly surprising and fantastic.”
I think it is clear to see why people are thrilled to see his work. He has found a niche within Virtual Photography with his poster work and is truly at the top of his game.
Virtual Photography is still a developing (sorry for the pun) discipline within Photography. I asked Firescorpio if he had anything to say to those who don’t consider it as legitimate…
In his answer, it seems Firescorpio has experience with people on both sides of the debate.
“ Funnily enough, I have friends… one of which is a filmmaker like me and another which is a model photographer. One of them is adamant this is the evolution of photography as we know it, while the other one hates that we call it photography at all.”
Most of the people I have spoken to have given a “don’t know it until you try it” response, however Firescorpio has placed himself in the centre of the debate.
“I fully believe that videogames are the 8th form of art and as they evolve so will virtual photography… However, to think of them in terms of Photography isn’t correct… Not because it isn’t just photography… it can become so much more than that.
“For the time being, it still lacks a lot of elements that could make it an equivalent to traditional photography but ask me again in five years I’m sure it will be a norm.”
The optimism Firescorpio displays is admirable and his skills are even moreso. When I asked him about his career aspirations, this optimism was perfectly captured!
“I hope to one day be able to figure out how to lure studios into wanting a Firescorpio poster for their launch! But, for the time being, I’m just happy being able to do something that fills me creatively at 100%.”
I hope this has offered an exciting insight into the world of Virtual Photography and Virtual Photographers. Keep an eye out for the next installment of Through The Virtual Lens for another discussion with a talented Virtual Photographer.