Why You Should Purchase One of My Virtually Created Photographs for $40
(TL;DR — Scroll to the end to view the gallery, purchasing instructions, and a virtual time-lapse video.)
I’m a Photographer
A self-proclaimed photographer. I shoot for the enjoyment of it. You can view some of my real world photography on my portfolio site.
My father was also a photographer. When I was 14 years young he entrusted me with his Nikon FA 35mm SLR and I put it to good use. I also have a Hasselblad 500c/m Medium Format that I used for a bit but is now sadly collecting dust. I dove into digital photography with a Canon 30D EOS dSLR and now mainly use a FujiFilm X-T2 dSLR after my cherished X-T1 got stolen.
Film vs Digital. Nikon vs Canon. Hasselblad. Fujifilm. It’s all the same in my opinion. They’re all just tools for creating.
A photographer is still a photographer regardless of equipment.
They can use a homemade pinhole camera, disposable camera, mobile device or even the latest and greatest photography equipment. The talent and experience of the photographer will still shine through.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Let’s switch gears for a second. Have you played video games recently? Or at least seen what’s out there? The worlds that are being created are becoming exponentially realistic. We’ve come a long way from the 8-bit video games I’ve grown up playing.
You’re probably thinking… “What’s that have to do with photography?”
Just bare with me…
The past few days I’ve been playing a video game called Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s is an awe-inspiring piece of (art)work that came out about a week ago on February 28th, 2017. And it is ridiculously good! From the story to combat system to beautiful open world, it’s just an amazing game created by the blood, sweat, love, and tears of the many talented people at Guerilla Games.
Within the game they have a feature called Photo Mode. It pauses the game and allows you to control a virtual camera for taking photos.
You mean screenshots? No. Photographs!
The in-game camera has it all. Besides flash and ISO you can control everything you can on a typical camera. Aperture, focal length, field of view, position, and tilt. It’s all at your fingertips.
As I became fascinated by how great the Photo Mode feature is, a bigger question started to dawn on me (pun intended).
Is taking photographs in a virtual world any less authentic or impactful than taking photographs in the physical world? Let’s find out together.
Virtual vs Physical
If you don’t already know, the line between virtual and physical is slowly overlapping. It’s because we live in the Matrix… kind of joking… but kind of not?
That’s a much bigger topic that I won’t get into.
We have Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and also people living real lives in virtual worlds (Second Life).
Speaking of Second Life, did you know that in 2010 50 people made over USD$100,000? And 25 of those people, together, made a total of USD$12 Million. They made real money in a virtual world. They sold virtual clothing and real estate.
So people value virtual things. But how about virtually created art within a virtual world? Who owns that?
Virtual and Physical Art
I love digitally created art. I also love physically created art. I’m also now exploring virtually created art. I find them all equality beautiful and authentic. But there’s always been a stigma in the art world that makes people lean towards physically created art. It seems that people are more inclined to purchase physically created art but that’s changing. An art collector bought a URL containing digital artwork at Art Basel for $5,000. Yes, a website that has work available for free public viewing was purchased.
Photography is a little different though. Wether you’re using a film camera or a digital camera you’re still taking a photo of something within our physical world. So digital photography and film photography are essentially the same thing especially since film is usually scanned and digitized nowadays.
But there’s something new on the horizon (pun still intended). Virtual photography.
Photography within a Virtual World
With games like GTA V and Horizon Zero Dawn, photography within a virtual world is now being explored. In GTA V, gamers are able to take snapshots using their in-game phone. In Horizon Zero Dawn your in-game camera is a step up from just a snapshot… it’s a fully-functioning virtual SLR. Although it’s in a virtual world you still have to go through all the motions you would in our physical world. Find a location, choose your time, frame your shot, position your subject, tweak your camera settings, and take the photo.
A photographer is a photographer regardless of equipment or subject.
In Horizon Zero Dawn, my equipment is a virtual SLR and my subject is the landscape and characters in a virtual world. I still put the same amount of time, patience, and thought into framing my shots as I would in real life. I still went through all the same exact motions I would in a real world shoot. Sometimes positioning my character, AI enemies, or getting the right actions takes anywhere from 1–20min. I even bring the photos into Photoshop for some minor post-processing.
The question is…
Do you appreciate these photographs, taken in a virtual world, in the same way you would a photograph taken in the physical world?
I want to know.
Why you should purchase one of my virtually created photographs for $40
I created these photographs to see if it resonates with people the same way it does with physical world photography.
I understand that not everyone plays video games. Not everyone gets to explore and enjoy these virtual worlds or see them in the same light as I do. These types of photos may entice others to want to get into video games and explore these virtual worlds for themselves. Or at the very least, let others enjoy these virtual worlds through our eyes (and virtual lens).
By purchasing a photograph you’ll be helping to validate a whole new genre of art. Who knows where that can lead to?
Is that not worth $40?
Now.. I know what some of you are thinking “Are you allowed to sell these photographs?”
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. That is one of the many questions I’m hoping to gain answers to by writing this article. It’s all unknown territory that needs exploration.
But by purchasing a photograph you’re helping us find out. The more people that purchase these the more pressing this topic will become and hopefully it will reach the ears of video game publishers, specifically Guerilla Games.
They have a decision to make.
One that may make a huge impact on the future of virtually created art/photography. They gave us the tools to create art within their worlds but will they allow us to take ownership of that art? And if we own it will they be ok with us making money from it?
I hope so because it will lead to beautiful things. And it’ll help spread the beauty of the worlds they spent so much time and effort creating.
But if not, then what’s the point of giving us a virtual SLR? If I can’t take ownership of the work I create within their worlds then why would I spend my time crafting these photos? These may be the last virtually created photographs you’ll see from me. Hopefully that’s not the case.
Guerilla Games, thoughts?
Please share this article and/or purchase one of these photographs if you want to help us get answers to these questions. Thanks!
Hello! My name is Christopher Miles and I’m a friendly human on an endless quest to explore the many facets of art, code, and technology. I’m currently living in Brooklyn and working in NYC as a Associate Director of Creative Technology within an Experience Design Team.
I just like making things no matter the medium. And as the world is constantly evolving so are our mediums. Virtual Reality art and Augmented Reality art is currently being explored. With the rise of virtual mediums will new art forms be embraced? Will people be inclined to buy art created in virtual worlds?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I’m just thinking in public and trying to find out.
(None of my photos were taken during cutscenes, they were all taken during actual gameplay. Medium’s compression creates some degradation so photo quality is better than what you see below. Purchasing details at the end.)
How to purchase a photograph
Pick any photo in this article that you like and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- $40 Printed Copy — I’ll send you a 16x9 printed copy. +$30 if you want the 16x9 canvas photo version.**
- Joint Ownership — Individual prices in caption. I’ll send you a printed copy as well as the file on a 32GB USB 3.1 drive. Photo on this article will be removed and replaced with a version that has a sold sticker/red dot on it. I reserve the right to display the work in my portfolio. You do not have the right to alter the work in any way but are welcome to distribute, display, and make copies.**
**You pay exactly what I end up paying for shipping. No extra fees, full transparency.**
Time-lapse Photography within a Virtual World
It’s a long process but I’m also working on a time-lapse video made from photos. I’m planning on finding 8–10 locations so I can create a ~2min video that’ll showcase the beauty and vastness of Horizon Zero Dawn’s world.
Here’s the first location I shot.