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If you have been thinking about entering the Red Bull Capture Point virtual photography contest, you will have no doubt noticed the 6 thematic categories that are set out for the prize awards. Not quite your typical themes, the pointers from Red Bull are a little more enigmatic and include The Great Outdoors, Emotions Run High, Moments of Fun, Frozen in Time, Catch the Light, and Edge of Reality.

Far from being restrictive, these categories are very much open to interpretation, and shots from any of the 5 participating games can be considered in each. In fact, you don't even need to specify which category your entries are intended for, the judging panel will decide where they think each shot fits best, but it is always worth giving them some thought.


As with any creative contest, thematic direction can serve as great inspiration for ideas, but it also offers a little insight into what the judges might be looking for. So let's take a closer look at the contest categories and how each could be interpreted.


The Great Outdoors

One of the most impressive aspects of modern video games is undoubtedly the beautiful, varied and extraordinarily detailed environments in which they exist. This theme embraces that and offers the perfect excuse to explore the epic realms of the Norse Gods, the reclaimed ruins of Seattle, or the majestic island of Tsushima.

Whether it is a wide-angled shot of an expansive vista, details of the flora and fauna around you, or even a view through a window at what lies beyond, ready your camera and capture the best of these lovingly crafted virtual worlds.


Emotions Run High

Some of the greatest and most poignant photographs in history are those that capture a telling moment, a significant act, or convey the true humanity of their subjects. Virtual photography has an enormous benefit here, as it allows photographers to conveniently work with intense moments of battle or capture profound emotions that are rarely exhibited openly in the real world.

Take advantage of this and photograph your subjects at their most fierce, energetic, or even vulnerable moments. The best shots tell a story without words, and picturing emotion is an excellent way to do that.


Moments of Fun

Of course, not all captures have to be overly serious or deeply meaningful; sometimes it pays to just let your hair down. After all, video games are inherently designed to be fun, and rumour has it that some people even find enjoyment in the unforgiving depths of Demon's Souls...

Whether that is you, or indeed however you find your fun in games, let some of it leak into the photo mode and put a smile on the judges' faces.

Frozen in Time

Maybe the first thing you would notice when jumping into a photo mode for the very first time, is how it immediately freezes the action. With the game on hold, you are relatively free to move around and spend time working to find the right shot(s).

Whether you choose to engineer an event, freeze at the perfect moment, or explore something long forgotten, remember that the importance of composition cannot be overstated. How you put together the elements within the frame will make the difference between a shot that simply shows "what happened" and one that implies "what it meant".


Catch the Light

Another of the most crucial aspects of any kind of photography, the capture of light is quite literally what the whole thing is based on. As video games have become more technologically advanced, so too has the virtual lighting they use to illuminate their worlds.

Whether an ambient glow, volumetric rays shining through the mist, camera lens flare, or the presence of realistic reflections, make it your mission to find the best and most interesting light available. Your shots will almost certainly benefit from it.


Edge of Reality

I admittedly spend a good amount of time talking and writing about the ways in which virtual photography and modern photo modes make use of realistic and authentic techniques that can be the ideal parallel with real life photography.

The fact that it IS virtual though, means that in-game photography also brings the opportunity to experiment with scenarios that would be impractical, if not impossible in reality. Put the two together, let your imagination roam, and you might just capture believable images of unbelievable scenes and events.


Whichever inspiration you choose to take for your virtual photography, always remember to go with what feels right to you. There really is no hard-set "right or wrong" when it comes to creating art, and this post is in no way meant to tell you the only ways that you could interpret the category themes.

Experiment with ideas and enjoy the results...

Red Bull Capture Point contest entries are open now to US residents and close at 23:59 PST on 2nd May. For further details on prizing and how to take part, head to


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