Stunning Avatar portrait wins Virtual Photographer of the Year Award

Game: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
(Image credit: Taka San)

The winners have been announced for The Virtual Photography Awards 2023, revealing breathtaking worlds throughout time and space.

If you are not familiar with the term 'virtual photography' then you're not alone, however, you may have seen some and not known it. Instead of using the best mirrorless cameras, virtual photography is the capture of scenes through in-game photography, more often using a video game's in-built photo mode. The Virtual Photography Awards is a celebration of the best 'digital artists' to capture the best shots in any virtual world available, providing options throughout time and space! 

This year's winners were selected from over 2,750 entries from all over the globe, across 6 thematic categories. The Virtual Photography Awards 2023 overall winner and title of Virtual Photographer of the Year was awarded to Taka San from Japan. His image was taken in the video game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. The judges state, "through artistic use of the in-game environment and lighting, along with positioning a pair of characters to produce this iconic pose, Taka San created a striking and original portrait of the Na’vi people that feature in the Avatar universe."

Taka San's winning image also won the top spot in the portrait category. Speaking on his victory Taka San said, "This shot shows the face of my character and the hand of my friend's character while using an emote to create this combined pose. It is a simple composition, but one that was taken with a lot of ingenuity and time. Virtual photography has expanded my gaming world and given me a lot of creativity. I will forever treasure the wonderful results I have achieved in these awards!".

Creative Winner - Gabriella Ma (Game: Cyberpunk 2077) (Image credit: Gabriella Ma)

Listed below is the full list of category winners:

Environment Winner - Ludovic Helme (Japan)

Creative Winner - Gabriella Ma (Canada)

Detail Winner - Michelle Neumann (Scotland)

Portrait & Overall Winner - Taka San (Japan)

Action Winner - Sarvamm Rathore (India) 

Abstract Winner – A. Yi (USA)

With the advancement in video game graphics quality and features like ray tracing, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the virtual from the real, especially how light can now be rendered in modern games. Virtual photography also improves accessibility, enabling those not able to get out and photograph an opportunity to still practice the medium in a new and exciting way.   

Action Winner - Sarvamm Rathore (Game: Assassin’s Creed Unity) (Image credit: Sarvamm Rathore)

Game: Lies of P

Environment Winner - Ludovic Helme (Game: Lies of P) (Image credit: Ludovic Helme)

Detail Winner - Michelle Neumann (Game: Alan Wake 2) (Image credit: Michelle Neumann)

As both a video game lover and a photographer, this has certainly inspired me to go and give virtual photography a try. I am currently halfway through a playthrough of Ghost of Tsushima on the PS5, and with its exceptional photo mode and Kurosawa filter, I can imagine getting some epic shots!

If this has also inspired you, we have a great tutorial by Alistair Campbell, who was also one of the judges for The Virtual Photography Awards 2023. You can also see the full list of winners and the games they captured the images on, on The Virtual Photography Awards website.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 


Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.