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Some video games have a mechanic where you can take pictures of enemies, items, NPCs, or features in the environment. This comes in two basic forms: as a sidequest, and as the whole point of a Hidden Object Game.

In the sidequest form, you're usually sent on a mission to photograph some well-hidden or hard-to-get-to item, or photographing an enemy might unlock more information about their weaknesses. In the Hidden Object version, you identify the hidden objects by taking pictures of them. That's usually the whole game, although there may be minigames as well that use some other mechanic.

In both versions, if the photos receive a score beyond just "is the subject is present in the frame Y/N", the game's programming often has some… unique ideas on what makes a good picture.

For games that let you take photographs but it doesn't factor into gameplay at all, see Photo Mode. If the photography switches to a first-person view, then this overlaps with In-Universe Camera.


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     Adventure Game  
  • The player character of Eastshade is a painter, so unsurprisingly the gameplay involves painting, which in practice, is just like taking a screenshot which is then rendered into a painting. The main quest is making a painting of 4 particular places, and several sidequests require you to make paintings.
  • In Firewatch, Henry discovers a camera with a small amount of film left behind by a former park ranger's son. Any pictures he takes will be displayed during the credits, along with the few taken by the previous owner. The photos are then able to be viewed online, and to be physically ordered to the player.
  • Snapping photos is a plot element of The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure. A bit more interesting than most examples, as the photos often reveal supernatural phenomena you can't otherwise detect.
  • Myst IV: Revelation has a camera feature that can be used to not only capture puzzle solutions, but to also capture pictures of stuff that you think is pretty. Taking lots of photos is also one way to variate and somewhat personalize an event that happens later on in the game. This is carried onwards as one of the functions of your KI in Uru, and another camera in Myst V that also saves your progress into each photo.
  • In Nancy Drew and the Warnings at Waverly Academy (2009) you have to, at one point, take photos of the students around the school, as well as the school itself. The game is rather picky about what it considers a "perfect" shot, and the characters will taunt you if you take too long to line up the shot. Also, one of the students isn't even at the school, so you have to find a picture of her and take a picture of that.
  • Panty Raider: From Here to Immaturity was a comedy game from Hypnotix and Simon & Schuster Interactive with a bizarre premise: a trio of aliens stumble upon a lingerie catalogue from Earth, and become desperate for more after their copy gets "worn out". They force an average Earthling male to take candid photographs of supermodels in their underwear for their "amusement", threatening him with Anal Probing and the destruction of Earth. Fortunately, they also arm him with a high-tech camera and various tools, including clothing-dissolving goo and X-ray goggles.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch, Sam's sequence is narrated by Edith flipping through a set of photographs. The flashback is played out by continuously looking out of the camera's lens and taking photographs. The sequence advances if you manage to find the right shot.

     Action Adventure  
  • Beyond Good & Evil was one of the first to use it as a major plot driver, as the main character was an underground reporter charged with digging up the truth about an alien conspiracy. In a variation, she's really a professional photographer. It was also a sidequest: Jade had been hired by a scientific foundation to assist in creating a library of photographs of every animal on the planet. Taking pictures of animals netted the player money and other bonuses.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has several camera-related sidequests, in which Shanoa must photograph such rare beasts as the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra and the Yeti.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. In regards of the Swamp Tourism contest and the large man who co-runs it, you can earn rupees by snapping up photos of certain things with the Pictobox, and getting a photo of the Deku King (a rare sight) or Tingle (the son the guide was worried about) nets you a Piece of Heart. There's another event in the game triggered by taking a photo of one of the (female) pirates and giving it to the fisherman on Great Bay Coast. There's also the slightly creepy stalker Zora who wants a pic of Lulu, who'll pay you to snap a pic of her while she's grieving the loss of the eggs.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
      • Just getting the Pictobox, as well as upgrading it to the Deluxe version for colour pictographs, spans a sidequest on its own: It all starts with exploring the narrow caves behind Tingle's prison, then showing the Pictobox to Lenzo, then completing three snapshot tasks, then finding a rainbow-coloured firefly in Forest Haven and then giving it to Lenzo (Thankfully, the HD remake omits the requirement for the firefly). This is just one of the various sidequests in Windfall Island that involve giving pictographs to certain characters.
      • After getting the Deluxe Pictobox, there's an elaborate Sidequest that involves taking pictures of nearly every character, enemy, boss, etc. in the game and delivering them to the Nintendo Gallery to complete a figurine collection (notably, one character only appears if you have a Game Boy Advance and a cable to link it to your Nintendo GameCube, allowing you to complete another sidequest that spans five of the game's dungeons, though this character isn't a requirement for completing the gallery). The HD remake alleviates most of the tedium which comes this sidequest, thanks to the Deluxe Pictobox holding more photos (12 as opposed to 3), the addition of a small icon indicating whether a pictograph is eligible into becoming a figurine and Carlov being able to create multiple figurines per day (as opposed to 1 per day). Thanks to the Tingle Bottle, users could also post pictographs to Miiverse, helping to eliminate the risk of permanently losing the chance to take pictographs of characters or bosses who make limited appearances (after the shutdown of Miiverse in late 2017, the risk is present once again). However, despite the omission of the system link requirements for the other sidequest which makes a certain character appear, there is no indication on how and where to complete this sidequest, and this once optional character is now 'required' to complete the gallery.
      • There are also sidequests in Windfall Island that require Link to make use of his Pictobox, and they all require the Deluxe upgrade.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Sheikah Slate has an unlockable Camera rune that is used primarily to take pictures of monster, animals, and items to add them to the Hyrule Compendium. There are also sidequests that require you to take pictures of various environmental features (e.g. a hidden statue, fragments of an ancient plaque) and show them to NPCs.
  • This is in the demo of the game for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Why do you needed to take good pictures of rhinos and elephants, just because you found a camera somewhere? Because.

     Dungeon Crawler  

     Edutainment Game  
  • The Amazon Trail involves photographing exotic flora and fauna in the jungle in order to fill out your photo album.

     Fighting Game  

     First Person Shooter  
  • The first two BioShock games have research cameras for Enemy Scan:
    • The first BioShock has you acquire a "Research Camera" as part of the plot. Using the camera to take photos of various enemies can grant you combat bonuses against them, and even power-ups.
    • In BioShock 2's single-player mode, the player is given a video camera, which gives you more points for using a variety of attacks on the subject.
    • In BioShock 2's multiplayer, the "Research Camera" gives a small damage bonus against any target that gets photographed by it.
  • Borderlands 2: Scooter asks you to take inspiring pictures for a love poem he's working on.
  • Far Cry
    • Far Cry 3's Camera is used to spot people, animals, and in a unusual side quest, take pictures for a man with questionable intentions.
    • Far Cry 4 has similar uses for its camera, albeit tagging enemies is less reliant, since the tags on Hunter enemies fade with time, making them harder to track.
  • Gravity Bone: "PHOTO-GRAPH THE FIVE BIRDS." Maybe something of a subversion, since each bird self-destructs when you take its picture, so collecting photos may not be the real goal.
  • Medal of Honor: Underground has a Stealth-Based Mission where you masquerade as a press photographer. PS2 sequel Medal of Honor: Frontline similarly features a level where part of the mission is to photograph blueprints for a German plane prototype.
  • Pokémon Snap and its sequel are literally first person camera shooters, since the main concept is about taking shots of Pokémon in the wild.
  • Umurangi Generation is another game where photography is the main mechanic. In each level you go around trying to find and photograph certain items, while other pics will get you extra money (which doesn't do anything) based on how interesting they are.

     Party Game  
  • There are a few Mario Party minigames that involve taking pictures of things, sometimes just to catch the most things in one photo.
    • Mario Party 6: The minigame Freeze Frame puts all players in a town inhabited by Goombas. The camera's perspective is the POV of the characters' cameras, and the objective for each is to take a picture showing as many Goombas as possible, though that's easier said than done due to how many Goombas are seen at a given time (and the shot must be taken in 10 seconds or less). If the minigame is played during day, a player will receive extra points if the picture they take shows a Shy Guy; during night, the extra points are given by having a UFO shown. The character with the highest score wins, but it's possible to have more than one player win is they share the highest score.
    • Mario Party DS: Camera Shy is a minigame where each player's objective is to take a picture of all other players while looking for them within a cornfield maze. In Duel mode, all it takes is for one dueling character to take a snapshoot of the other. The shot has to show the targeted character in the right position, which is then signaled by the camera's lens in the touchscreen changing their color from red to green. Whoever manages to achieve the objective first wins; but if four minutes pass and no character manages to get a shot of all other three (or the sole opponent in Duel mode), the minigame ends in a tie.
    • Mario Party: Island Tour: The minigame Point 'n' Shoot has the four players stand respectively in front of four green cameras aiming at a rural town, where many mooks live. Each players aims with their camera by moving their Nintendo 3DS, and the game will show three pictures, each showing a mook that has to be taken a picture of. Each mook can only be photographed by one character, so inevitably someone will be left without taking any pictures. In the next round, other three mooks are shown so the characters attempt to take pictures of them. After three rounds, the character who took the most pictures wins.
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ There's a microgame called "Picture Perfect" where you have to take a picture shot of a bird flying; timing is required to perform the shot when the full body of the bird is within the marked borders of the camera's lens, because anything imperfect will make the player lose the microgame.

     Platform Game 
  • Another old one, with a decent level of justification, the video game interpretation of Darkman had “Camera stages” where you ran through a basic Hogan's Alley taking shots of your next target. Darkman required photographs to craft his disguises in the film, although for some reason, the more pictures you took increased the amount of time he could stay in disguise, instead of just how good the mask looked.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has a camera that allows you to "capture" banana fairies for inventory upgrades.
  • FreezeME plays with this, since the main character does use a camera to take pictures of things, but instead of collecting photographs, she uses this power to freeze things in place.
  • The Sly Cooper games, especially Band of Thieves and Honor Among Thieves, have areas where Sly uses his all-purpose gadget to take some reconnaissance pictures, a natural thing for a thief to do before major operations. One mission uses the ghost-trapping idea, though. In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, this is somehow Sly's Level 3 Super.
  • The PS3 and 360 versions of Sonic Unleashed include this. At night, you can travel the hub worlds and snap a picture of someone who isn't exactly the same temperament when you speak to them in the daytime. Doing so will cause you to enter a mini-level to defeat Dark Gaia's mooks within a time period in order to free the person from Dark Gaia's influence.
  • Way back in the early '90s Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin for the Sega Genesis asked you to take pictures of supervillains before you fought them. You could then sell them in your secret identity between missions to buy more web fluid. Justified, of course, because that's exactly what Peter Parker does in the comics.

     Puzzle Game  
  • The Dark Tales franchise has this feature in two of its titles. It first appears in The Masque of the Red Death, which justifies it with both an achievement (for taking pictures of all possible locations) and also a function; every location photographed gets added to the interactive map, enabling fast travel to that area. It returns in The Fall of the House of Usher, but this time it serves no useful purpose.

     Role Playing Game  
  • Anachronox, the Quake II-engine RPG, had this. The main character is a private detective, however, so it makes some sense. He doesn't do much detective work with it during the game, instead spending his time taking pictures of rare and fantastic things.
  • In the first Baten Kaitos game, this is the only way to make money beyond the rare gimmick magnus that can be sold (and you want to keep most of them for them to finish changing to register them instead of sell). The amount the photos sell for depends on a number of factors, but the most common are distance (proceeding with a melee attack to get close is often to your benefit), lighting (Light and dark attacks before the camera will make the photo brighter or darker, and getting the balance right is key), and if the enemy blocks the photo (less money resulting). Thankfully, 2-4 "decent" photos (less if you don't keep boss photos as a Bragging Rights Reward or get some perfect shots) is all it takes clear out every shop of their (limited but slowly respawning) inventory.
  • Dark Chronicle. You take pictures of objects in your surroundings, and then using combinations of those photos as inspiration, create new items. You can also snap pictures of Palm Brinks' inhabitants, who will mug for the camera in their own special pose. Getting particularly difficult snapshots, such as bosses or unique enemy attacks, would also net you points and rewards.
  • In Eternal Sonata, Beat's ability to take photos of monsters is the best way to make money throughout most of the game. That is, if you can learn the game's crazy standards for what constitutes as a good picture.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a quest where you have to take pictures of landmarks to give to Michael Angelo, an agoraphobic neon sign designer in need of inspiration.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, an entire side game known as "Pankration" exists that requires "capturing" monsters in a camera like device to be later summoned for a Pokemon-like arena battle. The photos were later used to fund a new type of Optional Boss fights, likely to drive some traffic towards Pankration as well.
  • Several James Bond games have objectives that require you to take pictures of secret weapons, devices, and such.
  • In Kingdom Hearts III, Sora's Gummiphone comes with a built-in camera. This produces two forms of sidequests that extend throughout the entire game. One is the Moogle Shops giving out Photo Missions; if Sora takes a picture of the subject they specify, the Moogles will add an item to the synthesis list. The other is the Lucky Emblem hunt, a quest to find ninety Hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the first eight worlds; the more Hidden Mickeys found, the more rewards acquired. Notably, the series-signature "extra objective that unlocks a Sequel Hook Stinger" element for this entry is also tied to this sidequest; exactly how many needed to unlock the secret ending varies with difficulty.note 
  • Legend of Legaia has you visit a hot springs resort, where you can buy a Camera Stone from a vendor. It lets you take photographs in various places. If you win a Swimsuit for Noa by winning the dance contest in the Tower of Sol, she'll be wearing it in the pictures.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon has the Poké Finder, which allows you to take pictures of Pokémon in special hidden areas, not unlike Pokémon Snap. In fact, the developers said that this feature was meant to appeal to players who wanted a sequel prior to its eventual sequel.
  • Shadow Hearts:
  • One quest in World of Warcraft has the player take a newfangled gnomish image capture device called the "Super Snapper FX" and take a picture of a dangerous turtle. Unfortunately, the flash from the camera makes the turtle more than a little mad. When the picture is taken, an item is left in the player's inventory that shows an image of the turtle.
  • The World Ends with You plays with this a bit by Joshua, and later Neku using a cell-phone camera to take photos of the past.

     Rhythm Game  
  • Rhythm Heaven's Freeze Frame is about timing your shots so you get a photo of the racing cars crossing the finish line.

     Shoot Em Up  

     Simulation Game  
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has a Stealth-Based Mission where you have to run a recon mission. All of your weapons are replaced with a plane-mounted camera system.
  • In one level of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, you are given a camera and instructed to photograph two thugs after killing them.
  • The iDOLM@STER 2 — You can take pictures of the girls during the stage performances after the Auditions or during the encore during Lives and Festivals.
  • The iDOLM@STER Gravure for You — That's the whole premise of the game.
  • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis let you pick up a few extra bucks if you took pictures of the dinosaurs in your park. Some missions require you to take photos of dinosaurs while in a car, like the one where you acquire 200 points taking pictures of predatory dinosaurs fighting each other, hunting, or eating.
  • Photo Kano is half this, half Dating Sim.
  • The "World Adventures" expansion pack for The Sims 3 adds the Photography skill. You can buy a camera, take pictures, and put them up around your house or sell them.
    • In the base game, you can also take pictures with your phone, although there's no skill-set around this.
  • Part of Snapimals has you taking pictures of wild animals for the Captain's museum. You're graded based on the poses they make.
  • A mission in Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom had you on a recon mission, snapping photos of various Border Worlds Militia bases in order to determine where a prisoner was being held.
  • Several of the Challenge mode quests and Campaigns for Zoo Tycoon 2 require you to photograph things in your zoo, usually animals or guests doing particular things.

     Stealth Based Game  
  • once had a game centered around this where the player controls a remote control spy robot and must sneak up on suspects and take pictures of them and record conversations without them noticing in order to find a thief, called Robohunter 2: Spy City. (information on the first Robohunter game is hard to find, so it is unknown if it was the same)
  • The Metal Gear Solid series. Taking pictures is required at least once in the series, and numerous Easter Eggs are available by snapping up photos of random innocuous things. Depending on what you snap you can find ghosts, have your CO call you a pervert, and confirm your best friend's doubts about your sexuality. If you wait until the fourth Act to obtain the Camera in Metal Gear Solid 4, you'll find Otacon used it to take some photographs of Naomi.
  • In Spy Fiction you can disguise yourself as anyone you can photograph — either their outfit alone or their face depending on whether you can photograph them from the front or not. It makes the stealth sections remarkably easy.
  • Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain's third bonus mission has Mujari photographing evidence in a bombed-out Chechen village.
  • Yandere Simulator uses photography as a major gameplay mechanic. Yandere-chan can take pictures of students to mail to Info-chan for information on them, pictures of Senpai for restoring sanity, and upskirt photos to send to Info-chan in exchange for favors. Be careful with pictures of corpses, though: if the police bring you in, any such photos on your phone will result in a Game Over.

     Survival Horror  
  • In Eternal Darkness, Peter is a reporter, but you can't take pictures. You can, however, use his camera flash to stun enemies .
  • The whole premise of Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Japan) and its sequels is to take photographs of ghosts in order to seal them in your special camera. However, you also get bonuses for non-dangerous incidental ghosts.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories — taking pictures with the protagonist's phone cam will reveal a number of secrets... including the UFO Ending.

     Third Person Shooter  
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009) has the PKE Scanner, which you use to "scan" ghosts to get information on their fictional back stories, combat techniques, and which Proton Pack mode is best suited to breaking them down.
  • Warframe Update 11 added a "Codex Scanner" that can be used on enemies for xp as well as information on their health, weaknesses, strengths and items dropped.

     Wide Open Sandbox  
  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure: The core mechanic of the game is to go around the island taking pictures of wildlife.
  • Bully had quite a few missions and sidequests that involved taking pictures, which you could save if you wanted. The NPCs make direct mention of Jimmy having a camera.
  • Dead Rising featured this, which made some sense since the protagonist is a freelance reporter. He's covered wars, ya know.
  • The Endless Ocean games cast the main character as, among other things, a freelance photographer for diving magazines. Taking and selling pictures of various aquatic wildlife is an easy way to make money in the game. The second game tells you what (in theory) makes for a good picture by the game's standards
  • Frontier: Elite II has a class of military missions that involve taking pictures of an enemy installation on some uninhabited planet several light-years away.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Vice City and Grand Theft Auto IV all feature missions where you play photographer to get some photos either as evidence of a deed or as blackmail material.
    • San Andreas also has the camera as a non-mission exclusive item. You can use it to take photos of anything you want, and the game will even save them as screenshots on the game's folder; additionally, San Fierro's Collection Sidequest is all about taking snapshots spread around the city.note 
  • inFAMOUS has a sidequest that inverts the trope: You need to do certain actions so someone else can take pictures of Cole.
  • inFAMOUS 2 has a few sidequests where Cole must photograph enemies to learn their weaknesses. This sadly doesn't affect normal gameplay.

  • Alekon: One half of the game consists of trying to get photos of the locals of the Land of Fiction, which become various amounts of creativity depending on how well you got them. The creativity can help the fictions in Dream's Doorstep come back to life.

Alternative Title(s): Amateur Photography, Amateur Photographer