Street Photographer Takes His Craft Into the Video Game World of GTA V


Photography student and street photographer Fernando Pereira Gomes is used to practicing his craft on the streets of New York, but recently, he’s taken to shooting photos on the virtual streets of Los Santos, San Andreas, the fictional city of Grand Theft Auto V.

You might remember that we made mention of this exact possibility when we shared this amazing GTA V time-lapse video. Rockstar put so much thought into the details of the game, that the time-lapse seemed almost real: trees moved, power lines swayed, and cloud reflections played on the surface of buildings downtown.

Gomes’ GTA V ‘street photography,’ and his experience capturing it, highlights that same attention to detail, and so he has begun posting them on a quickly growing Tumblr blog titled “Street Photography V.” Here’s what he had to say about the genesis of the project:

Being a big fan of GTA, I went to the midnight launch and played the night away. As I played, I noticed that the characters had cameras on their phones… With this new tool, and the huge world of Los Santos, I started experimenting with the camera and the digital streets.

What I found was remarkable. The game is so realistic that it felt like being in the streets outside, running around for shots, anticipating passersby’s movements and reactions. In a way, it was also incredibly frightening that these algorithms could look so real, or is it that we ourselves are becoming ever more algorithmic?

We’ll let you answer that last question, but here are a few of the pictures Gomes has posted thus far:








As he points out in an interview with Mashable, shooting in-game has both advantages and disadvantages.

While he wouldn’t ever dart into traffic in the real world to get a shot, he can do that in the game; however, at the same time, your character is stuck standing upright, severely limiting the kinds of perspectives you can capture. You’re also limited to very low resolution photographs, a problem Gomes is working hard to get around.

Those limitations aside, his description of capturing photos in-game could easily be confused for a description of taking real street photos: “I’ll go on long walks, and sometimes I’ll find a background on the street that really pleases me, and maybe I’ll hang around there and see if anything interesting happens,” explains Gomes. “I can’t go out and look for the photo — you have to anticipate what is going to happen around you, and you have to react to it with your camera.”

To see more of Gomes’ GTA V “street photography,” head over to his Tumblr. And if you want to compare it to the real thing, you can find his actual street photography on his website and Behance.

(via Mashable)

  • Lama Dalei Robott

    Maybe it’s not photography but the in-game camera was used (it’s actually called virtual camera – google it) – it IS a camera, just because you don’t like it doesn’t make that fact any less true.

  • Mike

    When my fellow virtual flight fanatics post screeshots from our flight simulators, and even artistically aesthetic ones, or edited for some realism with techniques not different from ones used for photography, we still call them screenshots. Never, even once, did anyone dare to call them photographs.

    Screenshots are screenshots.
    Maybe when really high resolution ray tracing becomes easy, then we could say they are virtual photographs, using simulated light.

  • omar

    I believe this article is quite an insult… not just to street photographers but to the photography community in general. I don’t see why PetalPixel would even entertain the idea of “covering” this as a “story”.
    …it is not photography, period….and I find it so sad how easy it is for people to get attention this days.

  • Mike

    How about you stop spamming the same, wrong, resolution comment, Adam?

  • Alex

    Too much arguing going on, appreciate the effot he’s gone into and how interesting it is. I’d rather read things like this then see someone who has put mirrors in a landscape and called it Art

  • Alex


  • Sid Ceaser

    He’s capturing unique, individual moments inside of a virtual world or community. Just because y’all don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t going on with lots of games, and that within that community this kind of stuff gets lots of attention.

    I’m wondering, though, if these instances are genuinely random or if there is some repetitive algorithm within the game that repeats the same actions of NPC characters in the game. Maybe every so many sun rotations and everything resets? I’ve been playing GTAV quite a bit and I’m amazed at how random the world seems (this isn’t including obvious programmed stranger meetings/events).

    Is it photography in the literal sense? I dunno. He’s playing a virtual character in a virtual world taking photographs with a virtual cell phone world and then showing those images to a real world.

    Which is an interesting thing – the player is still using the fundamentals of photography in composition, content, etc.

    So here we have a virtual world, and this photographer is capturing unique individual moments from this world. Stuff other GTAV players haven’t encountered. That’s pretty unique.

    I think it’s great.

  • Clayton Finley

    Correction: actually the game is an upscaled 720p ( on consoles ), and I have 3 1440p monitors set up in a vertical orintation giving me an effective resolution of 4320×2560. Plus the added benifit of PC’s much more detailed graphics, along with texture mods and other add in, etc. And its not a super crazy computer by any means.

    I dont see this as photography, since its pretty easily repeated and is more of a neat function in a video game.

  • Guilherme Costa

    Also, in Second Life there are many and many tools to use photography, for years by now. You can have deep of field, are able to tilt the camera, etc, etc…

    Just search: Photography in Second Life

  • Anna Henson

    God damn to the users of this website love to whine about every little thing.

  • 9inchnail

    Virtual bike riding is not a sport, is it? So why even debate if this is photography or not. It is not. Period.

  • 9inchnail

    A camera is a device. A device is a real world object. You don’t have a camera so your not taking photos. There are no photons being recorded on film or a sensor, this is not photography. Am I a photographer if I press the print button and take a screenshot of my desktop?

  • 9inchnail

    It is still illegal, companies just decide not to act upon it because it’s free advertising. If people on Deviant Art were selling those artworks, they would get sued.

  • MattSteeleLA

    So let me see if I understand this logic: Doing “street photography” in GTA makes me a real photographer, but committing crimes in GTA has no bearing on real life whatsoever.

  • Adam Cross

    I suppose people are never allowed to be wrong in your world? that people aren’t allowed to learn new things? ok then…

  • Adam Cross

    true, but how are you going to get the game itself to run higher than the options you have in-game?

  • mansgame, yo

    I’ve always believed that “Street Photography” as it’s known today (Don’t you dare bring up Vivian Meyers) is the bottom of the barrel as far as photography goes. It’s nothing more than standing back with a telephoto lens like a perv or jumping in front of people and taking their pictures up close without permission.

    This GTA stuff just further shows how big of a joke it is. This joker is actually getting credit for doing screen freezes of the work other people did in creating those characters and setting them off in the VR? How about giving credit to the Rockstar programmers and designers? This is all them.

  • Clayton Finley

    I wonder if I can go screen cap other artist work and call it my own art? Basically he is just screen capping years of work done by other animation/texture/story/modeling artist and calling it photography. IRL might as well take a camera into a musem, take a picture of a painting and call that picture art.

  • facepalm

    This is old hat. I’ve been doing aerial photography from Zelda: A Link to the Past, street photography from Double Dragon, and minimalist-astronomy photography from Asteroid for years.

    How do you like ‘my’ work? Portfolio below.

  • John Lanford

    Condescending prick. The creators of the game are the artist. You CAN call him a copycat if you’d like; as you refer to Raushenberg and Wharhol. You call THIS Pop art? It is called a screen grab. That is all.

  • LB

    I take it you’ve never heard of the term “appropriated image”. I usually find it a bit of a cop out myself, but Thomas Ruff’s M.A.R.S. series is entirely made out of appropriated satellite images, and is considered photography by the art world. I personally see it more as digital art, but I’m just a lone dissenter.

    Plenty of post-modernists have used image appropriation as their central medium. One simply rephotographed iconic images, I cannot recall her name, but the images in her series were named “after [photographer name]”, I remember she redid Dorothea Langes Migrant Mother. Barbara Kruger also fits into the appropriated image genre.

  • John Lanford

    Adam Cross is just a troll evident from his numerous opposing posts here

  • Adam Cross

    and there was an original artist for the design of Cambells soup cans, that didn’t stop Warhol from reproducing the design exactly how it was on the can, no different to a screen grab from a video game. Am I saying that Gomes is Andy Warhol, no. But they both apply a similar method

  • Mike

    Not when they keep repeating themselves over and over and over…

  • John Lanford

    you just don’t get it, do you? Dumb as a sack of hair.

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    Wait until it comes to PC.. and then you can fix the resolution problem.

  • nikonian

    Sadly it is… There are leagues and people get money…

  • owen

    Lanford, what on earth are you on about. Rockstar put a camera in the mobile phone in the game. They WANT people to take photos of the amazing game world they created. You’re overreacting hilariously here.

  • owen

    Cochrane, you’re attempting to belittle this chap with no real justification.

    Fact is, Rockstar put a camera in the mobile phone the player has in the game. They WANT people to find interesting, funny stuff in the game world and photograph it and share it.

    What exactly is your problem?

  • owen

    Man there’s some humourless asshats using Petapixel, isn’t there?

  • owen

    He’s making pictures using a virtual camera in a game that actively encourages players to take pictures using the virtual camera.

    It’ll do for me. Why is everyone so precious around here? And I say that as a hardworking, professional photographer. I’m not precious, why are you?

  • owen

    He’s making pictures of events in the game world using the camera that the developers put in the game and actively encouraged players to use it to take pictures of events in their game world…

    That’ll do for me. Why are you so precious about it not being photography? I’m a hardworking professional photographer and I think this is fun and I’m not precious about it. Why are you? Is it threatening you in some way?

  • owen

    How pedantic. He’s using an in-game camera to make pictures of events that unfold in the game. He’s choosing the angle, the framing, the moment he took the shot.

    I’m a photographer and I consider this to be just as interesting and creative as making real pictures. But then I’ve been doing exactly the same thing myself throughout my many hours with GTAV.

    Maybe you need to have a sense of fun and humour and not have a stick up one’s backside in order to be able to enjoy this chap’s photos from Los Santos…

  • owen

    He chose the location, the time of day, the angle, the framing and the exact moment of taking the picture,

    Rockstar made this world to be lived in digitally and they put a camera in the mobile phone in the game so that people would take pictures and share them.

    What is your problem?

  • owen

    I love how you,ve come up with your own definition of street photography so as to exclude this chap.

    Yes it’s not really street photography, but you know what it is? Fun. And that’s what I get from photography.

    Emotional empathy, emotional risks, what a lot of self serving claptrap.

  • owen

    You’re clearly not stupid, but you’re behaving as if you’re incapable of seeing why they’ve listed this here. What he’s done is create pictures using the in-game phone camera. It’s not ‘real’ but it’s still creation of a picture using timing, framing, etc.

    Get over yourself and your precious definition of what photography is.

    You make me laugh. I didn’t realise photography fans were such humourless asshats. Makes me proud to be a professional working photographer who doesn’t feel the same way as you about this hobby/job.

  • owen

    It’s pathetic isn’t it. Makes me ashamed to be a part of this ‘community’.

  • owen

    Well your big man attitude about street photography is way off. It’s about taking pictures that you like, in the street. Nothing to do with perving or pissing people off. Says a lot about your own narrow views there.

    If you do either, you’re missing the point. And doing it wrong.

  • owen

    But this requires finding a location, waiting for the light to be right, waiting for something to happen, getting the framing right…

    Have you actually played GTAV? Have you any idea how realistically the world is? Sure, it’s been coded. Sure, they deserve bundles of credit for their work.

    But they put a camera in the in-game phone for a reason: so that people would find moments and photograph them. They wanted people to do this.

    But nooo. You don’t think it’s right. You don’t think it’s creative. DOWN WITH THIS THEFT OF OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK you say.

    Because you’re a humourless asshat.

  • owen

    I have to say I’m amused and saddened by the number of commenters fiercely opposing this article or the art of taking a good photo in GTAV using the camera they put in the in-game mobile phone.

    And the argument that it’s the same as taking photos in a museum is so laughably wrong-headed, it’s just unbelievable there is such bitterness and preciousness in the photography community, or at least amongst readers of this website.

    Fact is: Rockstar put the camera and the photo-sharing features in the game PRECISELY to encourage this chap and everyone else to find photos and share them.

    Don’t give me all that rubbish about how actually photography is the exposing of chemical film blah blah.

    Photography is the recording of pictures. This is in-game photography. Sure it’s not real, sure the scenes are the result of coding, but the user has to find the shots they want, wait for light, frame it right, etc.

    this is just a bit of fun and most of the commenters here need to get over themselves and their massive shoulder-mounted chip against literally anyone who dares to challenge they’d very narrow, humourless position of what photography is and should b

  • owen

    Oh boohoo. Get over yourself. He’s made photos from the very realistic game world using the in-game mobile phone camera. I think they’re great. Well framed, interesting moments.


  • owen

    The difference of course is that these are taken with an in-game camera app on the in-game mobile phone.

    There’s a difference, it’s subtle but it’s there.

  • owen

    How about you lighten up and stop living within the narrow definitions of a dictionary? It’s taken with a mobile phone camera in the game and he has to find the shot first. There’s so much random stuff happening all over the city, it’s not all hard coded you know. No, you don’t. You only know what’s in the dictionary.

  • Jay McClure

    Now, I’ve been doing similar on Gran Turismo for years and no one ever made such a commotion about that despite far superior “camera play” (for lack of a better phrase). I simply fail to understand what it is about GTA V that brings it to the forefront of near anything.

  • Jay McClure

    My self, I am not against the images or the means in which they were taken. I’m against the fact that another game has not only had this feature for just short of a decade (9 years) but has refined it substantially in the current generation of the game,
    but when they did it, it was just a gimmick. Gran theft Auto does it
    and it’s just so amazing that articles must be written about it.

  • owen

    So what? I can think of several games with the feature too. Halo 3, for example, which goes way further than GTA V, allowing you to replay movies of matches, freeze the moment you want, rotate the camera, zoom in, everything. And it looks way better than GTA V’s pics as well.

    But again, so what? This article is about this particular photographer who has taken these particular photos within the game. What does it matter that other games did the feature first? It’s about the photos he took, not the game.

    Why someone would be “against” any aspect of this story I just don’t understand. Aren’t there more important things to be “against”?

  • owen

    “Such a commotion” – it’s hardly a commotion. It’s a couple of articles that are interesting for now and will be forgotten about tomorrow. Calm down.

    It’s also just one guy out of hundreds and hundreds of other players who are doing exactly the same thing, in a game that has just come out and is probably one of the most successful games of all time.

    So it’s being written about because it’s current, and it’s interesting.

    Yes, other games do the same thing. It just so happens that the high visibility of this game means it got a bit of attention. It’s not the end of the world. Your pictures you made in Gran Turismo are still good.

    Don’t worry about it :)

  • Lama Dalei Robott

    I’ve never said this is photography – it is not, that’s the only point you’re right. But he’s still using a camera. A camera does NOT have to be a real object.

    And besides: There are virtual sports leagues, they are considered sports, there are massive events, people win big money and get advertising contracts, there are even tv stations streaming those events and games.

  • John Lanford

    Owen, you have no idea what YOU are talking about. AC and this article claims this act is ART. It is not art. I am not overreacting, I am attempting to clarify, for some stupid reason, to folks like you and Cross here, that the simple process capturing a scene of a composition in a game with a camera is NOT art. period. Take all the pics you want.

  • owen

    Ohhh, I didn’t realise it was all about your personal interpretation of art, and how anyone who has a different interpretation is categorically wrong. Thank you for explaining – I understand perfectly what your problem is now.