Flickr Creates New Virtual Photography Category as the New Medium Takes Off

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flickr virtual photo

The somewhat forgotten photo-sharing platform Flickr has spruced its image up a bit more by adding a whole new virtual photography category to its site. Users who post under this section can now bulk upload their favorite virtual photo creations and there are also options for group administration and search filtering.

Wait, What’s Virtual Photography?

For those of you who’d never heard of it or associated it with real photography, this slightly odd category name is also sometimes called video game photography. It basically consists of digital virtual images taken camera-style in video games. Virtual photography has been around for several years but has recently become much more popular as game developers add camera features to their virtual worlds.

Currently, a virtual photo-taking feature has been added to many newer video games and several popular titles such as The Last of Us and Gods of War among others now include very well-developed capture options that digitally imitate all the manual steps and controls needed for using a real camera in the real world.

While some photographers might be reading this and having a bit of a WTF moment, the bottom line is that virtual photography has become more popular among people apparently shy about seriously trying the real thing.

Its popularity has in fact grown so much that game development studios such as Ubisoft and Guerilla are making special efforts to add support for this medium. Some of them even share their users’ images on their social media channels or, as in the case of Ubisoft, have announced competitions and physical exhibitions supporting the in-game photographic works.

Image credit: Guerilla

Flicker has thus decided to recognize and also support this growing medium by giving it its own categories and tools for user submissions.

According to the photo-sharing site, “When you

upload content to Flickr, you need to choose where it ‘fits,’ a category that accurately describes what you’re sharing. Until now, Flickr offered three options for content categorization: photos, illustration/art, and screenshots. Today, we’re introducing a fourth category, virtual photography, because ‘screenshots’ didn’t quite meet the needs of this creative and growing community,”

The site further elaborates that “virtual photographers will be able to filter by ‘virtual photography’ while conducting site-wide searches if they only want to see that kind of work while avoiding real-world photography or other art and illustration,”

The distinction is notable too because heavily photoshopped real-world photos and hyper-realistic virtual “photos” can indeed sometimes meet in the middle to make it hard to tell them apart. As for other digital illustrations or artworks, they’re slightly different from virtual photography by the fact that someone painted them instead of taking a digital snapshot of something already existing in a game.

Flickr has in fact embraced virtual photography so much that it’s now including it as a specific category for its 2022 World Photography Day Competition.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this odd media redefinition of photography as we’ve already known it.

Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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