The Strangely Beautiful Photographic World Of GTA 5

The Strangely Beautiful Photographic World Of GTA 5

GTA 5 is not just a successful video game, it’s the highest grossing entertainment product of all time. Part of it's success is down to it’s beautiful, immersive virtual environment. This environment has inspired a number of keen eyed photographers out there to bring us some beautiful street and landscape photography. It beggars the question – is this really photography and if not, well, what is it?

A few weeks ago I posted an article about the interesting dynamic lighting that I was discovering in GTA 5 when I had a brief opportunity to explore the game world for a few hours. Although some of our readers pointed out that there are games with there are other games out there with far more intricate lighting, the game puts you into something akin to “real” environments (and by this, I mean you can explore pretty intricately modeled rural and urban landscapes that have dynamic lighting conditions based on the sun’s movement and other artificial lighting). There is even a Flickr group of landscape photographers of Los Santos and Blaine County.

A couple of keen eyed gamers out there, notably Phil Rose and Fernando Pereira Gomes have taken the exploration of the game a step further, bringing us some beautiful in game “photography”. Even Zack Arias has dabbled in the world of GTA 5 street photography. I would argue that all the elements of these street and landscape photographs could be classified as photographs. The concepts of composition, lighting, the capture of a singular moment, shape, form, color and texture are all at play. They were even captured with the in-game camera phone.

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto9 Via Phil Rose

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto8 Via Phil Rose

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto4 Via Phil Rose

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto2 Via Phil Rose

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto3 Via Phil Rose

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto7 Fernando Pereira Gomes

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto6 Fernando Pereira Gomes

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto5 Fernando Pereira Gomes

Fstoppers_DavidGeffin_Davegeffin_GeffinMedia_GTA5_photo_videogamephoto1 Fernando Pereira Gomes

Does it matter that these were not captured in the real world with real camera equipment? Personally I would call them photographs regardless, and for the most part, pretty beautiful ones at that, but I’d be interested in hearing what others think.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know.

Via [Buzzfeed / Buzzfeed]

Image Credits[Fernando Pereira Gomes /  Phil Rose

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This just because a part of some sociology major's thesis.

Umm, no.

They're called game screenshots - not a new thing at all.

Those from Phil Rose look like "real photography" to me.

haha when i played GTA i was always stoping to take a photo with the cell phone :)))

David Vaughn's picture

Here we go...all aboard the complain train everyone!


I think people are upset because people try to make something thats already been out since I think the late 80's called a "Screen shot" by a different name. Thats like me making an App for a phone where you take a picture with your phone and it instantly get put on the line. It's nothing like instagram, you take a picture and it get put on the line and everyone can see it. You can also add filter to it when you put it on the line. Its called photograminsta

Daniel Yubi's picture


photographing in GTA is not really so different from photographing in a Theme Park, the difference is that this one is virtual (well the others also are sort of virtual worlds). I've been taking pictures (screenshots if you want) in games for years, as well as in Virtual Worlds as Second Life (where you can also use virtual cameras and studios and lighting kits, etc) and I've written multiple articles about the subject. In Second Life you even can change the weather conditions (incidence of light, cloud layers, time of day, etc) to create specific moods for photographs.

In fact, for me pictures taken in virtual worlds and games are just an extension of my pictures taken in the real world, as they represent a moment in time, and some activity I was involved with. I've been playing Lord of the Rings Online since beta days, and I've pictures from those seven years. When my two sons played with me we used to meet regularly to take pictures together... of our characters (I've some published at Massively). They're as important to me as all the other pictures I take. In fact I keep exploring new areas in LOTRO just to take fantastic landscape pictures, as the light changes during the day in the virtual world of Tolkien. And I've done that, regularly, in different games, and also in Flight Simulator. My passion for photography, which I do professionally besides writing, extends to taking pictures in virtual worlds. The challenges of composition, good light and vantage points are all here too. And after all we spend more and more of our lifes in virtual worlds...

Back in Gta san andreas we had a dslr to take photographs, now folks just use their cell phones :P