Feast your eyes on the Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners

Frame perfect.

We’ve saved our share of screenshots over the years, but none come close to the level you’ll see in the awards for Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023. Virtual photography – the framing and capture of artistic in-game imagery – has become a beloved pastime for many players. There are plenty of games about taking pictures, but VP artists don’t let the lack of an in-game lens (or indeed an official photo mode) hold them back. Exploring myriad digital worlds, they’re always in search of that perfect perspective. And the Virtual Photography Awards aims to recognize the very best of their digital captures.

This year, nearly 3,000 submissions were voted on by a panel comprising developers, industry professionals, and expert real-life photographers. Their job? To pick the Virtual Photographers of the Year 2023 in the categories of Environment, Creative, Detail, Portrait, Action, and Abstract. So grab a warm drink, take a seat, and prepare to catch your jaw when it drops as you take in the winners of this year’s Virtual Photography Awards.

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - overall winner

Winner: Taka San (Japan)

Category: Portrait.

Game: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a navi shown close up holding their hand in front of their face with fingers split to reveal their eye

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners by category

Below you can find the winners in each category of the Virtual Photographer of the Year awards for 2023. Each photo is accompanied by a quote provided by the winner.

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Environment

Winner: Ludovic Helme / Shinobi_Space (Japan)

Game: Lies of P

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - A lone figure is viewed through a doorway, walking toward a darkened bridge with a battered puppet hanging from its top

“I loved to create this shot because it combines absolutely all my obsessions,” Helme says. “Symmetry, color theory, composition, framing and movement. It's one of these shots that I knew from the start that it'd be one of my favorites for a long time. I actually worked on it for a couple of days to get as close as possible to the original vision. So, this shot also taught me perseverance and I'm obviously very proud that it won this award!”

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Creative

Winner: Gabriella Ma (Canada)

Game: Cyberpunk 2077

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a cyberpunk figure petting a cat while sitting on a seat is viewed through the frame of a pair of glasses

“Enjoying the progress and having some fun ideas are always my purpose in virtual photography,” Ma writes. “Here I found a small corner that may go unnoticed in the big city and used the eyeglasses to create a frame to focus on my subjects. In the picture, the character is feeding his cat, and both of them are having their restful time in the neon lights. Meanwhile I'm hiding behind the glasses watching and capturing this enjoyable moment.  This photo shows my expression and understanding of ‘岁月静好: The time is quiet; the world is peaceful.’”

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Detail

Winner: Michelle Neumann (Scotland)

Game: Alan Wake 2

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a lone buoy is visible resting on a placid lake, with large pine trees faded into the orange hazy fog in the background

“I’m a photographer in real life and find that the beauty of video games and their worlds is just undeniable,” says Neumann. “People put love and effort into creating those worlds for us and the games I play give me the opportunity to capture pictures I will never be able to take in real life. Just some good music to go along with taking screenshots/editing – a time well spent for me.”

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Portrait

Winner: Taka San (Japan)

Game: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a Navi holds its hand up in front of its face, fingers split to reveal its right eye between them

“This shot shows the face of my character and the hand of my friend's character while using an emote to create this combined pose,” Taka San says. “It is a simple composition, but one that was taken with a lot of ingenuity and time. Virtual photography has expanded my gaming world and given me a lot of creativity. I will forever treasure the wonderful results I have achieved in these awards!”

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Action

Winner: Sarvamm Rathore (India)

Game: Assassin’s Creed Unity

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a small figure can be seen leaping dramatically between two cathedral rooftops, with a spire visible behind them in the gap

“In this shot, I aimed to capture the moment when one triumphs over their fears and breaks free from their comfort zone,” says Rathore. "The juxtaposition of personal triumph against the backdrop of this iconic monument – which itself is a testament to human achievement – emphasizes that monumental feats can arise from individual resilience and courage.”

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 - Abstract

Winner: Austin Yi (USA)

Game: Forza Horizon 5

Virtual Photographer of the Year 2023 winners - a car's rear lights are visible in a spiral due to the rotation of the camera during a longer exposure

”I entered The VP awards and really didn't think I would win, especially amongst all these talented people,” writes Yi. “I still can't believe it. To quote a friend (Lucent_VP): ‘Express yourself in your work, capture how that moment makes you feel, and never be worried about how others would see it. Your vision is what matters.’”

Virtual Photography Industry Awards

In addition to the in-game captures showcased above, the VP Awards 2023 also highlighted several games and studios – voted for by a community panel – who have helped further virtual photography through impressive photo modes, characters, and more.

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Best Photo Mode

Winner: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Developer: Insomniac Games

VP Awards 2023 winners best photo mode

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Best Subject

Winner: Spider-Men

Game: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

VP Awards 2023 winners Best Subject

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Most Innovative

Winner: Lords of the Fallen

Developer: Hexworks

VP Awards 2023 winners most innovative

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Best UX

Winner: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Developer: Respawn Entertainment

VP Awards 2023 winners Best UX

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Community Support

Winner: Insomniac Games

VP Awards 2023 winners Community Support

VP Industry Awards 2023 - Best Lighting

Winner: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Developer: Insomniac Games

VP Awards 2023 winners best lighting

The Virtual Photographer of the Year selection is organized by The Fourth Focus. View the full awards by heading to the VP awards page here. Check out 2022’s winners here. Learn more about virtual photography with our the first of our three-part feature series here.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video games stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry@moonrock.biz, or catch him on Twitter.

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