In this edition of Through The Virtual Lens, I managed to talk with ZeroFoxFK 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 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 article, I got a chance to talk with ZeroFoxFK. ZeroFoxFK is a UK-based Virtual Photographer that captures images from across the Appalachia Wasteland of Fallout 76, and beyond.
You can find a link to their Twitter Account here: ZeroFoxFK Twitter
Firstly, I asked about where it all began. How did he get into Virtual Photography, and where did he take his first Virtual Photograph?
ZeroFoxFK began by expressing that they’ve always been a fan of taking in-game screenshots. Particularly, he is a fan of capturing images of self-customized characters. He has earmarked Black Desert Online as the title where “it started to get really serious”.
“I enjoyed the freedom the Photo Mode gave me… It didn’t matter too much about the quality.”
Ultimately, they expressed that they are just doing what they enjoy.
Next, I asked about how Virtual Photography relates to Traditional Photography. What experience has he had with Traditional Photography? How do the two relate to one another?
For ZeroFoxFK, the skills used in Traditional Photography have helped a lot with developing his talent for the discipline’s virtual counterpart.
“With game worlds becoming so much more detailed, and Photo Modes including more realistic features… I’ve definitely looked into real Photography techniques and tutorials.”
On top of this, ZeroFoxFK also studied Fine Art in College. He said he hasn’t got a lot of experience with Traditional Photography, but that doesn’t mean the skill set isn’t the same.
“I used to just take screenshots as just that… taking a shot of the screen. But now I know it’s so much more than that. It can be as simplistic or as complicated as you want it to be.”
The Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio, and other Basic Composition techniques have proved invaluable to ZeroFoxFK in developing their skills, as they would any Traditional Photographer.
I then asked ZeroFoxFK about their experiences with Photo Mode. Which is their favourite? What features do they enjoy? What do they want to see more of?
ZeroFoxFK believes that Ghost of Tsushima is a competitor for “Best Photo Mode”. Although they haven’t personally used it, they are blown away with what can be done with it. They also mention DOOM Eternal as another game with an impressive Photo Mode.
One feature ZeroFoxFK highlighted was the Spotlight option from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. As someone who enjoys capturing character portraits, this option places a spotlight on the character’s face in dark environments. Undoubtedly, this would prove a beneficial feature in every Photo Mode.
“Lighting makes all the difference.”
In addition to this, the Zoom Option is another they find useful. As someone who likes to focus on the detail in both character design and in-game objects, this and Depth of Field options prove invaluable. The ability to roll the camera and create portrait shots is something they don’t take for granted.
As a Content Creator, ZeroFoxFK has begun to develop his own community within the larger Virtual Photography community. I asked about their experience with both.
As a whole, they have found the Virtual Photography Community to be supportive. Each title has its own and the Fallout 76 branch of this is the only one that they interact with more personally. Understandably, they don’t want things to be too complicated. However, that doesn’t mean the others aren’t as welcoming as the Fallout 76 Virtual Photography Community.
In regards to their own Community, however… ZeroFoxFK had this to say:
“I just post what I like and try not to become an account that posts just one subject… I have become more aware that I have a Following now and I know that they like certain things so I keep them happy.”
ZeroFoxFK takes a lot of Virtual Photos in Fallout 76, so I asked a little bit about their experience there specifically.
“Fallout 76 is my ‘chillout’ game. The Photo Mode is basic in terms of features… but it’s very easy to use. I’ve been taking photos with it pretty much every day since launch and it feels like second nature now.”
ZeroFoxFK’s Fallout 76 character has proven popular with their fans and “rules the roost” when it comes to their Twitter account. When asked about how this has helped them express themselves, they said the following:
“Having a popular character has helped a lot. As a very socially anxious and shy person in real life, it helps… She’s outgoing and fun and I put a lot of personality in her. I guess there is some escapism there.”
Every aspect of Content Creation is becoming monetized in today’s society. Virtual Photography is no different. So, I asked about their thoughts on this!
“ When it comes to the monetization side of things, I see that others sell their screenshots. I just don’t know. Maybe there’s a market for that. I also think I could do artwork based on my screenshots.”
On the whole, though, it all boils down to enjoyment for ZeroFoxFK. They enjoy Virtual Photography and isn’t that ultimately what it should be about?
Finally, I asked if there was anything they would like to say to people who don’t consider Virtual Photography a legitimate counterpart to Traditional Photography?
“Photography is Art, and Art is subjective.”
ZeroFoxFK believes that the lines between Virtual Photography and Traditional Photography are becoming blurred. The increased realism in Virtual Worlds and Photo Mode Options become more detailed and mindful of traditional techniques are a testament to this viewpoint. They believe whole-heartedly that Virtual Photography is a legitimate counterpart to Traditional Photography. The opportunity to capture the impressive man-made worlds that are appearing should be encouraged. The creation of a new kind of art should be encouraged.
I am inclined to agree with ZeroFoxFK. As they said, every aspect of Traditional Photography, bar the physicality of the camera, can be replicated virtually. It would be naive to consider Virtually Photography anything but an equivalent field. Some of the things captured in-game may not be from this world, but that doesn’t make them any less real.
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.