These Virtual Photography Award winners are blowing my mind

 Virtual Photography Awards 2023
(Image credit: Gabriella Ma (Canada))

Virtual in-game photography is the act of capturing a still image within a digital game space or virtual world. This started as a hobby for most, but the photographic industry is finally beginning to take this creative art form seriously, recognising and embracing its potential. The latest Virtual Photography Awards is proof of this, and the resulting images are nothing short of breathtaking. 

Yes, you could argue that virtual photography isn't "real" photography, but what is? Especially with the rise of AI image generators and Adobe Firefly tools integrating with Photoshop, most images in our digital age either haven't been created with a camera or don't resemble a RAW file in the slightest. 

The Virtual Photography Awards was created by TheFourthFocus.com, and exists to celebrate the most outstanding individual images captured through in-game photography by digital artists around the globe. Virtual photography can be achieved by using fully featured Photo Mode tools, where players can tweak surroundings, freeze the action, and compose artistic shots that tell a story. 

A shared appreciation for game-derived art brings players, photographers, and studio creatives together, and plenty of careers have emerged from this modern strain of photography. There were 2,750 entries into the competition, and a judging panel of real-world photographers and game industry professionals selected the winners across six thematic categories.

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Portrait category and overall winner  (Image credit: Taka San from Japan (TAKASANGAMES))

The overall winner and crowned Virtual Photographer of the Year for 2023 is Taka San from Japan, with this portrait captured in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. "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" shares San, "It is a simple composition, but one that was taken with a lot of ingenuity and time."

The incredible images below comprise the rest of the category winners and runners-up from the Virtual Photography Awards 2023. Seeing this gallery has me tempted to jump back into virtual photography, as I used to spend hours doing this at university. Trust me, it's really fun and addictive. You'll get lost looking for details in the virtual worlds, and these digital game spaces are full of photographic potential.

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Action category winner from the game: Assassin's Creed Unity (Image credit: Sarvamm Rathore from India (ASTROGHOST001))

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Detail category winner from the game: Alan Wake 2 (Image credit: Michelle Neumann from Scotland (MICHIMEDIAVP))

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Creative category winner from the game: Cyberpunk 2077 (Image credit: Gabriella Ma from Canada (XJQXZ66))

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Environment category winner from the game: Lies of P (Image credit: Ludovic Helme from Japan (SHINOBI_SPACE))

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Abstract category winner from the game: Forza Horizon 5 (Image credit: Austin Yi from USA (YI_OWO))

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Creative category 3rd place (Image credit: NattyDread011)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Creative category 2nd place (Image credit: Spectral_Lens)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Environment category 2nd place (Image credit: Soulsurrender)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Environment category 3rd place (Image credit: GameSmithVP)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Abstract category 2nd place (Image credit: xjqxz66)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Abstract category 3rd place (Image credit: Shinobi_Space)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Portrait category 2nd place (Image credit: NattyDread011)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Portrait category 3rd place (Image credit: shkegulka)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Detail category 2nd place (Image credit: SOLEMIST)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Detail category 3rd place (Image credit: horace0816)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Action category 2nd place (Image credit: NattyDread011)

Virtual Photography Awards 2023

Action category 3rd place (Image credit: never047)

If you're looking to get into virtual in-game photography, you'll need a capable console (or PC) to run the games. We have some deals below on next-gen consoles from retailers in your region. 

Beth Nicholls
Ecommerce Writer

Beth is Creative Bloq’s Ecommerce Writer. An avid music photographer and previous staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has a keen eye for content and knows just how to create it. Her background working as a tester for CeX has provided extensive knowledge surrounding the latest tech and gaming trends, and she studied Music Journalism too, so you'll probably find her at a gig. Basically, she's a total nerd with a Snorlax tattoo and a Master's degree in Photography, forever wishing she was Peter Parker.