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Digital image from Red Dead Redemption 2 wins Virtual Photographer of the Year

Virtual Photographer of the Year competition hosted at London Gaming Festival announces winners and hosted exhibition at Trafalgar Square
Red Dead Redemption 2 (Image credit: Joe Menzies / London Gaming Festival / NVIDIA)

The London Games Festival exists to celebrate video game culture in all its forms, and this year hosted an exhibition of virtual in-game photography that was held in Trafalgar Square, showcasing global artists whom have captured and enhanced video game images, bringing them to life. 

A competition and challenge was launched for professionals and aspiring creators to capture the most striking images taken from within a video game. The first ever Virtual Photography Challenge was won by an entry submitted showcasing a beautiful landscape from award winning game Red Dead Redemption 2.

• Read more: 10 best games for virtual photographers (opens in new tab)

Making its debut at this year’s London Games festival, (opens in new tab) a 10 day celebration of video games and forms of interactive entertainment, the inaugural Virtual Photographer of the Year challenge crowned UK-based photographer Joe Menzies as the winner. 

His digital photo from the award-winning video game, Red Dead Redemption 2, shows a sunset desert-scape featuring the playable game protagonist Arthur Morgan riding his horse, beautifully composed in the left section of the frame. 

The competition was sponsored by NVIDIA Studio and celebrates the growing community and practice of virtual photography. This artistry allows creators to apply photo mode and concepts of shooting a manual camera with control over settings such as ISO and depth of field to capture evocative, impressive or thought-provoking photos within the virtual spaces of some of the most aesthetically impressive award-winning  video games.

Aside from winning the competition, Menzies took home an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti-powered Studio laptop, courtesy of sponsors NVIDIA and retail partners, Scan Computers, worth over £3000 ($3,907 / AU$5,250). The laptop is specifically designed to empower visual artists with the latest cutting-edge GPU technology and advanced drivers that are able to unlock the potential of advanced creative apps.

Also known as digital photography, screenshot art or capture art, virtual in-game photography can be captured using a game's photo mode as well as various other softwares that can be used to mimic the use of a real-world camera and bring virtual worlds to life through creative composition and post-production editing. 

Three categories were open for participants to enter; landscape, portrait and abstract, where images could be captured from any video game with a focus on the environments as well as characters, played using any platform or console. Some of the most highly commended shots were captured by photographers in games such as Ghosts of TsushimaBatman: Arkham Knight, Cyberpunk and the recently released, Elden Ring.

Gran Turismo (Image credit: Gran Turismo / London Gaming Festival / NVIDIA)
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Post-production work on the digital images was permitted but not essential, though was used frequently across most entries, including the winning shot, to bring out the vivid red and orange hues from the striking desert image. Entries were critiqued across an array of skills, awarding submissions that were evocative, aesthetically impressive and proven technical awareness where using post-production tools.

 The challenge judging panel consisted of video game and photographic experts including Andrew Averkin, Lead Environment Artist at NVIDIA, as well as Mik Bromley from virtual photography company; TheFourthFocus, host of the Game Industry Photo Mode (opens in new tab) Awards and The Virtual Photography Awards.  (opens in new tab)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Image credit: Jack Heisenburg / London Gaming Festival / NVIDIA)
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Averkin shared that: The NVIDIA Studio platform was made to offer artists a suite of tools and the best possible performance in top creative apps to help enhance their work, so being part of a competition showcasing an array of virtual photography has been very exciting. The standard of entries was very high and they all did a fantastic job of not just capturing stunning images, but applying real knowledge around how post-production can bring a photo to life. We hope everyone enjoys seeing them as much as we did judging them.’’

Festival Director, Michael French of London Games Festival said: “The photography competitions have become a real highlight of the London Games Festival so we were delighted that NVIDIA wanted to work with us and support the virtual photography community...There was a great mix of creativity and not just in the images put forward but in the post production work as well.’’

Be sure to take a look at the submitted challenge entries tagged with #LGF22VPchallenge on all social platforms.

• Read more:

Best gaming cameras (opens in new tab)
Best headset (opens in new tab)
Virtual Photography: taking photos in videogames is imaging's next evolution (opens in new tab)
War photojournalists take virtual pictures inside Call of Duty (opens in new tab)
Photography based videogames appear to be gaining popularity (opens in new tab)

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.