Getty is now licensing “photos” from video game worlds. For real

Jul 2, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Getty is now licensing “photos” from video game worlds. For real

Jul 2, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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This is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in my life, but Getty Images is apparently going to be the “dedicated in-game sports photographers” for the FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships. Yes, that’s right, video game screenshots are now “photography”, according to Getty and Polyphony Digital, the developers of Gran Turismo for the Sony Playstation.

And it turns out this isn’t the first year that this has happened, either. Getty says that “the new service was debuted during the 2019 season” and “used its expertise in photographing live racing” to… create better screenshots, I guess.

Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, and Polyphony Digital Inc., creator of the Gran Turismo franchise, have today announced a deal that will see Getty Images’ world-class motorsport specialist photographers capturing stunning in-game photography from Gran Turismo’s online and live World Tour events. Getty Images will serve as the exclusive Photographic Agency of the FIA Certified Gran Turismo Championships.

The new service was debuted during the 2019 season. Getty Images used its expertise in photographing live racing to deliver imagery from inside the digital realm of the Gran Turismo game at Gran Turismo World Tour events at the Nürburgring, New York, Salzburg, Tokyo and Sydney and last year’s World Finals in Monaco in November 2019.

The 2020 FIA Gran Turismo Championships recommenced on April 25th with the first round of Stage 1 of the online season for both the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series. The Top 16 Superstars broadcasts feature the best of the racing action from the top competitors in both the Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get it at all. I can understand photographing the crowds at a real-world gaming event (assuming there were any happening right now). The anticipation and expression on the viewer’s faces watching their favourite players going head-to-head as it happens. That’s exciting. But a random screenshot from the game itself?

  1. How is that photography?
  2. Why do they need actual photographers to do it?
  3. Getty? What?

I mean, ok, I get the cool visuals of game screenshots. But games companies have been making cool images and cinematic gameplay trailers for their games for years. It’s nothing new. They have access to the rendering engine, the models, all the code, they can set up literally any scene imaginable to get the most amazing images. They replay a “recording” of the same race over and over virtually, pick a precise moment in time, completely relight it in any way they like and put the camera exactly where they want it. But they’re still just screenshots.

How is this in any way, shape or form “photography”? And license it for what purpose? I mean, why would somebody pay to license a screenshot from a game that can be moderately well reproduced by anybody who… you know, buys the game? Does this mean that all 3D renders are now “photography”?

This isn’t a knock at game developers or 3D artists. 3D renders can be absolutely incredible, and there are a number of 3D artists I follow to see both their final results and their how-tos and timelapse creations on YouTube. But that’s a whole other art form and skill in its own right that really has no actual relation to photography whatsoever – other than we all try to create pretty images. But, so do painters. That’s not photography, either.

There is such a thing as “virtual photography”, but it’s used for pre-visualisation to be able to test lighting setups, poses and image ideas before shooting them for real. set.a.light 3D is one such piece of software for doing exactly this. But you’re not rendering out images from it as your final result, and you’re certainly not calling them “photography”. They’re for pre-viz to test out ideas to then go out and shoot them for real or to show somebody what lighting setup you used for a shot if you weren’t able to shoot behind the scenes images on the day of the shoot itself.

Anyway, yeah, licensed video game “photography”. It’s a thing now. Read more here.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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18 responses to “Getty is now licensing “photos” from video game worlds. For real”

  1. Chris Cameron Avatar
    Chris Cameron

    I tried to read this article but had to abandon it as ads kept popping in and out throwing the pagination around. Really wish you guys would fix this.

    1. Martin Roth Avatar
      Martin Roth

      They absolutely do not care. The moment you open the page it’s raining fractions of cents for them. sad but true.

      1. True FF Fan Avatar
        True FF Fan

        why is it sad? money has to come from somewhere. take an economics class ffs.

    2. Freelance cameraman China/HK Avatar
      Freelance cameraman China/HK

      Go for a plug in to your web browser.
      Ad Block Plus for example is quite fine.

    3. Lisa Avatar
      Lisa

      Ad Block.

  2. Ramón Enrique Méndez Yáñez Avatar
    Ramón Enrique Méndez Yáñez

    WTF?

  3. Sandeman21 Avatar
    Sandeman21

    It is not exactly photography but it is very similar. the artist captures the right moment from the correct angle, etc. same as they would in reality. call it virtual or e-photography if you like but it’s not exactly that much different.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Except that they can freeze any moment in time, replay it back over and over, adjust the position of the sun in the sky, or add multiple suns, change the weather completely, shoot the same millisecond in virtual time from 5,000 different angles, and do all the same things that CG artists have been doing for years. If the only thing that makes it “very similar” is that you have to have good composition, then it’s about as similar to photography as painting or a pencil sketch. :)

      1. Megaladong Avatar
        Megaladong

        Hundreds of people every year head to port Renfrew on Vancouver Island to photograph a tree in a lake….hundreds. Does that make each person’s photo irrelevant or does each person see it slightly different and capture a slightly different image each time?

        If you apply that logic to gaming, would we EVER capture the same image twice or is there a sense of artistry involved in capturing and sharing your own moment?

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          I didn’t say that video game capture wasn’t a viable art form. I simply said it wasn’t photography. It’s nothing like photography. :)

          1. Megaladong Avatar
            Megaladong

            Besides of course the things you already covered, like: finding composition, adjusting settings for the right scene, hunting for the ideal shot and capturing the perfect moment….sure, it’s not at all like photography.

          2. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            Which you also have to choose when you make a painting. It’s still not photography.

          3. Megaladong Avatar
            Megaladong

            You’re clearly reaching on that one to justify your position.

            What settings need to be adjusted to begin painting, are you a robot?

            What composition needs to be found when creating your own imagine….from scratch mind you.

            Capturing a moment when painting…from scratch? Clearly you didn’t read my comment.

            You could at least spend the time to read my comment and form a coherent reply if you’re going to reply at all. We all read the nonsense you wrote, respect the reader and do the same should you choose to continue validating your empty point. Or, is that too much to ask?

          4. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            You’re demanding respect and showing none. So, I’m simply going to say that you’re completely missing my point entirely and I’m done with this conversation. Best of luck to you! :)

  4. David Cooper Avatar
    David Cooper

    Well being a gamer myself aswell as avid and hobbiest screenshot taker, I wonder if they’ll branch out to licence images from other games too, games like Elite Dangerous for instance? ?

  5. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
    Dunja Djudjic

    Vladan Bogdanovic Pa imaju kao “fotografe” koji skrinšotuju igricu i onda se te “fotke” prodaju na Getty-ju. Jako je retardirano :D

  6. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
    Dunja Djudjic

    We wrote about photographers who turned to video games during isolation… Getty took it to a higher level haha!

  7. Lisa Avatar
    Lisa

    Getty also licences graphics, so it’s no different. Just calling it any form of photography is nonsense.