What Flickr’s new virtual photography category means for you

For most people, photography is capturing light on a medium for recording purposes. That’s why it’s called photography, it’s the combination of φωτός (photos) and γραφή (graph), the Greek words for light and drawing.

However, as computer hardware became more powerful and games more complex, a new genre of photography emerged: virtual photography. It has grown so much that even Flickr, one of the biggest photo-sharing sites in the world, has created a category for it.

So what does this mean for you and for the art of photography?

Flickr adds virtual photography category

In a post on the Flickr blog, community manager Leticia Roncero announced that she was introducing virtual photography as a content category for bulk uploading and search filtering.

This means that users can set their default download type to Virtual Photography / Machinima. This new default category now sits next to Photos/Videos, Screenshots/Screencasts, and Illusion/Art/Animation/CGI.

When the photo-sharing platform created the category, it had two types of photography in mind: video game captures and content created by the Second Life community. That means there’s movement big enough that Flickr thinks it deserves its own category.

So, if you frequently download virtual images, you can log into your Flickr account, access Settings > Privacy and Permissions > Defaults for new downloads and click Edit below How secure and what type of content will your photo stream have?. From here you can select Virtual photography / Machinima and choose Save changes.

What is virtual photography?

Anyone with a smartphone is familiar with photography. Just launch your camera app and take a photo of your subject. But is virtual photography the same thing? What is the difference with screenshots?

Virtual photography started to pick up steam when game titles became more cinematic. What differentiates it from screenshots is that virtual photography is usually done using the game’s built-in photo mode, which means you can change angles, exposure, lenses, and many more. other settings.

In comparison, screenshots simply capture what you see. The thought and effort behind virtual photography is usually much greater, which is probably why Flickr saw fit to add it to its own category. We have a more comprehensive guide to virtual photography.

Why virtual photography is growing fast

Apart from the effort behind the virtual photography, there must also have been demand in the Flickr community, so much so that the photo-sharing platform implemented the change. This growth is likely due to the increased capabilities of computer hardware and game engines, which have allowed gamers to experience near-life images during games.

This heightened aesthetic value is one of the reasons gamers love modern games – and as humans, we create art when we’re inspired. Cinematic games have brought new avenues to explore for gamers who also love photography. This allowed them to capture the beauty and chaos of digital worlds.

And since it’s easily accessible (on your computer or console) and you don’t have to go outside to capture virtual scenes, it’s much easier to take virtual shots than real shots, especially at peak 2020 pandemic closures.

Another reason people take photos is to preserve their memories. As social games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Second Life gain traction, more and more people are connecting and forming real friendships on virtual platforms.

Since these people are socializing in a virtual space, they cannot take actual photos to preserve their memories. Instead, they take virtual photos that will remind them of their friendships and experiences.

You can now add your virtual photographs to Flickr

With Flickr as the default download category option, the photo-sharing platform recognizes the burgeoning field of virtual photography. And while it won’t have an immediate impact on most users, this decision is a sign of something more: virtual photography has a future in our society.

As developers create more cinematic and aesthetically pleasing games and humans form more friendships online, you can expect virtual photography to grow alongside our virtual experiences. And if you have a cinematic game on your favorite gaming setup, why not try virtual photography?


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