A War Photographer's Attempt at Video Game Photography
TIME Magazine assigned a conflict photographer, Ashley Gilbertson, to use the 'photo mode' to document a video game's protagonists as they fight to survive the post-apocolyptic zombie-infested world of The Last of Us.
The Last of Us, released in 2013, was created by game studio Naughty Dog. The game received over 200 Game of the Year awards, as well as awards for best story, best performance, best acting, best performer and best audio. Needless to say it was incredibly well received not just for the amazing story line but the unbelievably beautiful yet dark game world, chalk full of cinematic scenes.
Ashley had some interesting thoughts about shooting photography inside of a game world. "I loved the concept - it brought to mind the ideas of photojournalism produced without a physical camera, best embodied in Mishka Henner's brilliant series, No Man's Land, a project that uses Google Street View to document Europe's prostitution issues."
Ashley played each level until he was confident that he had got the shot and was ready to move on. He found it more difficult to shoot with in the game world then it was the real world because he couldn't focus on shooting the action. He was both the photographer and the cause of the action.
Disheveled from the gruesome gameplay, Ashley asked a friend at TIME to play through the levels and hand the controller to him so he could just focus on the photography.
Now, as a conflict photographer Ashley always had to act quickly in order to get the shot that he wanted. With The Last of Us 'photo mode' he was allowed to experiment with different angles, depths of field, exposure, grain, vignettes, and lenses which actually made him second guess his choices.
In summing up his experience with video game photography: "I came away from the experience having learnt a couple of things: that the work I usually do is an antidote to the type of entertainment this game represents and that I suck at video games."