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Celebrating the best in video game photo modes and virtual photography from 2021, the 2nd annual Virtual Photography Awards once again brought together players, photographers, and studio creatives from all around the globe!

After a tremendous response that saw over 4.8K votes submitted on the Game Industry Awards, more than 1.7K entries into the Virtual Photograph of the Year categories, 1.9M direct impressions on social media, and an exceptionally high standard across the entries, the 2021 awards were a wonderful account of the continued growth of virtual photography as a digital art form.


Virtual Photograph of the Year:

Representing the outstanding individual images that are captured by digital artists everywhere, Virtual Photograph of the Year winners were chosen across five thematic categories – Portrait, Abstract, Detail, Environment & Action.

Based on artistic merit, technical ability and interpretation of the theme, finalists and winners are chosen by an impartial two-stage judging panel consisting of experienced in-game photographers, renowned real-world photographers & game industry professionals.



A stunning portrait that manages to be both dramatic and serene in equal measures. The strong lighting and surrounding negative space enhance the high contrast B&W style and help to focus attention on the subject with eyes closed and hair flung forwards, as though falling into the unknown.

"In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something that keeps us going! Something that pushes us, to find a way to fight the darkness & become a light to shine for all to see. Never give up, you have the power to overcome the dark, so keep on going my fellow warriors..."




Like gazing up at a towering rock wall, the centred one-point perspective elongates the shot and invites the viewer to take in the beautiful pastel colours and texture details, perhaps also wondering where the light had managed to find a way in.

"This photo was taken inside a big crystal cluster when I found that the photo mode camera could clip into the environment in Guardians of the Galaxy. It was such a cool and unique perspective being out of bounds, I had to share it and feel that it proves that sometimes the best things are outside the limits of normal perspective or the boundaries set by others..."




Proving that detail is about more than just high fidelity, this capture shows a superb appreciation of subtlety as the subject offers a cup in a formal and almost ritualistic manner. The simple composition and precise depth of field ensure that this is conveyed with ease.

"I feel very honoured and full of feelings of gratitude for being able to participate..."




Few shots sum up their thematic category quite as well as this, with a rich woodland quite literally creating an environment that envelops the tiny character. Gorgeous light spilling in from the right helps to pick out vibrant details, while the worn path leads the eye on a journey through this tunnel of trees.

"This beautifully detailed area with a lot of little tunnels created naturally by the foliage struck me as something out of a fairy tale / fantasy novel. I knew I wanted to get a shot with light shining through the trees on the side, so getting the time of day right took some patience. Of course I had to include cloaked Eivor for scale with a little foreground depth of field because I can't help myself..."




Whether in the obvious motion and muscular stance of the horse, the silhouette of its swooshing tail, or the rider with weapon readied, this action shot has so much to take in. Add to that a striking composition and fabulously diffuse background lighting, and this shot is a joy to behold.

"I'd like to plug “putsovagery” as video game photography’s cult-name & future PR move in bringing the hobby to the masses, and blame the Framed photography community, who, by the way, are an inspiring & lovely bunch; recommended..."




The VP Awards Finalists

Game Industry Photo Mode Awards:

Decided by public vote across 6 distinct categories, the Game Industry Photo Mode Awards recognise the most important contributions to the art of virtual photography from development studios and their games over the last 12 months.

Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, this year's results saw Insomniac Games dominating across the board with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart thanks to their advanced photo mode tools that continue to lead the way in areas such as 3-point lighting, but the voting also showed plenty of appreciation for the likes of Kena: Bridge of Spirits and the community support from many different studios.



🥇 (63.9 %) - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Insomniac Games

🥈 (11.3 %) - Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Ember Lab

🥉 (7.6 %) - Far Cry 6, Ubisoft Toronto







The Virtual Photography Awards are brought to you by TheFourthFocus, but this is not something that I could do alone. I wish to express my sincere thanks to all of The VP Awards Partners for their invaluable contributions that help to make this event the best it can be.

If you are interested in becoming a future partner of The Virtual Photography Awards or would like more info for press coverage, don't hesitate to get in touch via the Contact Form or drop me a message on Twitter.

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