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Photo Mode

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Another Ass-Kicking Pose for my album!

It's not uncommon for many modern videogames to start shipping with a specific bonus feature; the ability to take photos in-game by pausing all movements, hiding the HUD and letting the player move the camera freely, usually in a third-person perspective. This can vary from a basic screenshot editor to a functional gallery menu that lets you adjust the camera angle and apply flares or filters.

It became very commonplace in The New '10s to add this feature into games, due to the rise and normality of using social media and smartphones with ever-better camera quality and sharing those snaps around, so getting into photography became an easier hobby than ever before; those that are shutterbugs in real life will likely find a Photo Mode that allows you to capture an Unflinching Walk, Scenery Porn, Hit Stop or a discovered secret in an easy and natural way from any angle an appealing proposition. A series of photos can even be combined into Machinomics; telling a narrative with videogame pictures. Before Photo Mode became a staple for videogames, if the game settings had an option to disable the HUD, players would do so to take cinematic screenshots. And most early consoles didn't even have a dedicated screenshot button, so if it wasn't a game feature, you had to use some workarounds to take any semblance of a photo.

It can be accessed in different ways; using a designated hotkey combination, an option in the pause menu, specific location use, within replay footage, or by using a camera (or smartphone) item in-universe.

Common Photo Mode settings:

  • Camera controls while the game is paused, from rotating in place to moving anywhere within a certain range from the character.
  • Picture settings: Lens flares, image filters, brightness, depth focus, field of view, color intensity, etc.
  • Positioning and options for the game logo, stickers, frames, and backgrounds.
  • Character visibility and posing.
  • Perspective shifting: going from a first-person perspective to a third-person view, or vice-versa.

Note that a Photo Mode is a designated in-game system added specifically to take and modify pictures with more convenience, there's more to it than being a Free Look Button with the ability to capture images.

Depending on restrictions, the Photo Mode has the potential for a bit of cheating if you can pause the game and take your camera out to scout the area for enemies or secrets, similarly to Pause Scumming. Sometimes Developer's Foresight can occur and inaccessible areas will feature an Easter Egg, or the camera will hit an Invisible Wall if it goes somewhere you're not supposed to look. In the same manner, Video Game Perversity Potential may be restricted or not.

If Photo Mode can be enabled at any time and it allows you to pose, this opens the potential for some Gameplay and Story Segregation and even Narm, such as if you make the character take goofy selfies in the middle of a dramatic scene.

Compare to First-Person Snapshooter, which only lets you take photos in first-person and serves a gameplay purpose.

Video Game examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In ANNO: Mutationem, Screenshot Mode uses free camera movements to take shots that can be saved.
  • The one in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla has a free moving camera with excessive filter options.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight includes a free-camera photo mode with distance rendering, filters, and frames.
  • Control includes a free camera and filters.
  • Photo Mode in Days Gone comes with excessive focus settings and lets the player save their own filters.
  • Death Stranding lets you change poses and expressions for Sam and BB.
  • Dynasty Warriors 9 patches 1.04 and 1.06 added a Photo Mode for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One consoles. The succeeding patches added more features such as a set of poses, facial expressions, and frames.
  • Ghost of Tsushima has a variety of weather controls besides camera filters.
  • Included in God Of War III Remastered and God of War (PS4) with adjustable filters. Patched into God of War Ragnarök in Dec. 2022 with facial expressions, character hiding, borders, and more.
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Photo Mode comes with custom camera pans and filters.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn's Photo Mode has many saturation options and provides a set of poses and facial expressions for Aloy. The time of day can be changed for photos.
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son and inFAMOUS: First Light let you save snapshots to the gallery with a variety of color grading options.
  • Included in The Last of Us Remastered and The Last of Us Part II. Naughty Dog held official contests in 2014, 2019 and 2020.
  • Mad Max (2015) has Capture Mode with camera controls and filter settings.
  • The Camera item in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, unlike the First-Person Snapshooter features in other games of the series, is in third-person. If you break the armor of a BB boss and don't attack them for 3 minutes, you two will be teleported into White Void Room, using the Camera there makes Snake and the boss suggestively pose for you.
  • The Camera option in Monster Hunter: World: Iceborne and Monster Hunter: Rise brings up the View Finder for taking pictures, which can be switched between first-person view and third-person (Cohoot View in Rise) for selfies. The selfie view adds posing options, and you can still move your character as long as you're in the view. If you have pets with you, they'll pose as well. Besides sharing, the photos can be used to update Hunter's Notes. This doesn't pause the game, however.
  • Available in A Plague Tale: Innocence from the pause menu.
  • In PokéPark Wii after Pikachu meets Misdreavus, she gives them a camera with which the player can take photos with. Each film roll can hold up to 30 pictures. These 30 pictures can also be sent to an SD card purchased separately. This feature is carried over to the game's sequel, although the player can now store up to 72 photos. In both cases, pictures can be taken from a third-person view or from Pikachu's perspective.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc featured one with a movable camera as early as the Playstation 2/Gamecube era.
  • Photo Mode is added Sea of Solitude Director's Cut, along with a Japanese voice pack.
  • Added in the Play Station 4 version of Shadow of the Colossus and lets you apply filters and rotate the camera up to 90 degrees.
  • The Photo Mode in Spider-Man (PS4) and Spider-Man: Miles Morales can be switched between "free", "orbit" and "selfie" types with a lot of stickers to choose from.
  • The Photo Mode in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order lets you pan the camera and has image setting sliders.
  • The Uncharted series from 2015 forward includes a Photo Mode in each game, including remakes. Using it gives the player an achievement.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Chicory: A Colorful Tale, the Camera-Map lets you take a picture of your current location and add filters to it and change Pizza's expression and pose.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Included with Borderlands 3. Features include time of day, filters, and player hiding. Gearbox Software held a contest for it a month after the release with a variety of prizes.
  • Doom (2016) has "DOOM Photo Mode (Beta)" with a few lenses, though it removes the Doom Slayer from shots. Doom Eternal also comes with it, now with Slayer posing.
  • Far Cry 6's Photo Mode lets you control time of day and weather, on top of player poses and camera filters.
  • The Replay Mode in Fortnite has a few camera options and display settings.
  • Halo with Theater Mode added from Halo 3 onwards. It lets you review a replay of last 25 games with full movement within the recording, which gave birth to many Halo Machinima like Red vs. Blue.
  • The standard Photo Mode is available in Shadow Warrior 2, with the exception that Wang is always invisible.

    Fighting Game 
  • Every game in Super Smash Bros. series since since Melee has Snapshot mode (called Paint in Wii U version) and, since Brawl, a Replay mode, the latter of which is commonly used for Machinima videos, both gaining more functions in each game.

  • Final Fantasy XIV has a Photo Mode called Group Pose that can be accessed through the "/gpose" command. It automatically loops the last emote or attack every player made; and allows camera angles, lighting, and effects to be adjusted. Other players, NPCs and pets can also be hidden, and the UI can be removed.
  • Toontown Online has a screenshot function that takes a picture of the player's current screen, without the character and location name-bubbles. These pictures are then added to a "snapshot" folder in your sticker book.

    Mobile Games 
  • Pokémon GO has the ability to take Snapshots of the various Mons along with yourself using the Augmented Reality feature. Many of the in-game tasks require players to make use of it.
  • Added in Puchiguru! Love Live! with 2.9.0 update. It let players move and rotate the plushes of unlocked characters as well as use the phone's camera as the background.
  • Every demon and Guest Fighter in Shin Megami Tensei Liberation: Dx2 has a "AR" button in the Compendium, which overlays the demon with the camera feed. There's another AR mode called "Demon Scanner" used for Relationship Values features, but the one in the Compendium is specifically for taking pictures of demons.

    Platform Game 
  • The Camera Badge in A Hat in Time activates it. You can freely move the camera at large distances and apply filters. Some Easter Eggs can only be seen with the combination of Dweller Mask and moving the camera to obscured areas. Nyakuza Metro DLC adds collectible stickers that you can add to photos.
  • The one in Balan Wonderworld comes with frames and stickers.
  • Unlocked in Psychonauts 2 with Otto-Shot at Otto's Research Facility, which is a bit far from the beginning of the game and then you'll have to purchase filters as items separately.
  • Photo Mode is included in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, with visibility, camera, filters, frames and pose options.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Snapshot Mode in Super Mario Odyssey comes with just camera controls, logo position, and a variety of filters.
    • Snapshot Mode is included in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury with Nintendo promoting some challenges.
    • Mario Party 10: The Photo Studio allows players to take photos using character models and backgrounds that they have bought from the in-game Shop. They can place up to four characters in the frame, change their positions, and press a button to make them strike a random pose. At the time of the game's release, players would have been able to upload their photos to Miiverse.
  • An orbit camera with a few frames is available in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania

    Puzzle Game 
  • Unpacking has a built-in camera feature that lets you take pictures of the rooms you're decorating. You can choose between different frames and filters and also put collectible stickers on the photos.
  • Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop: The aptly named Photo Mode allows you to make your own cutscenes, with a custom amount of characters on the stage, and blank speech bubbles for any sort of dialogue you want to insert.

    Racing Game 
  • The Crew and The Crew 2 have rather user-friendly photo modes.
  • Driveclub includes a photo mode that lets you switch views between inside and outside the car and comes with tilt options.
  • Codemaster's F1 series has a photo mode, where the camera may be placed near an on-track vehicle. Photo mode also allows adjusting which wheels are visible.
  • Included in all Forza games since Motorsport 2. The Forza Horizon series (from Horizon 2 onward, although Horizon 4 initially didn't have it) also has Horizon Promo, where players use the game's photo mode to take pictures of all the drivable cars (plus traffic-only cars in Horizon 2) in the games to earn rewards. Horizon 4 and Horizon 5 even add weekly Photo Challenges to the Festival Playlists for additional rewards.
  • Gran Turismo 4 became the Trope Codifier with camera settings, a separate minimap, layers of filters, car settings up to wheel angles, and it has been included in every GT game since.
  • Most Need for Speed games since Carbon (the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions) had a photo mode that allowed players to move the camera around their car.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • The Cinematic Mode in Total War games removes the UI and lets you capture the battles with more detailed graphics and multiple camera options.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Cyberpunk 2077's Photo Mode includes a lot of character positioning and poses (with "You're breathtaking!" pose as Ascended Meme), picture settings, and up to 5 stickers.
  • The Video Game Remake of Demon's Souls adds Photo Mode to the Toolbelt and allows to hide the player or gear, pose and apply a variety of filters.
  • The Nintendo 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII expands Photo Mode into a full-blown sidequest tasking the player with taking photos of various landmarks and monsters. Doing so can yield some pretty valuable rewards, like exclusive items and equipment. Some of the later photos can verge on That One Sidequest, however...
  • Dragon Quest XI: The Definitive Edition features a Photo Mode, allowing you to pose and take pictures with any amount of your party members.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade adds Photo Mode with a variety of filters.
  • Gummiphone in Kingdom Hearts III allows Sora to pose and take selfies, even during boss fights. Kingdom Hearts III: Re𝄌Mind adds another mode called Data Greeting, which lets you add characters and props to selectable scenes.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: After doing a quest for Purah, the Sheikah Slate gets upgraded with more camera functions and a new Recollection Sidequest. Link can pose while in third-person view. This doesn't pause the game, however, so you have to be careful.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, there exist several places within the Beanbean Kingdom where the Mario Bros. can get their photo taken from an in-universe photographer. You can make them take any number of silly expressions or poses while waiting for the photographer to take the shot, and whatever picture they take of the Bros. will be used as their passport — serious or not — which doubles as the save file image.
  • A couple of adjustable Photo Mode settings are available in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
  • There are two Alola Photo Clubs in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon which act like a studio, allowing you to customize backgrounds, poses of yourself and your partner pokemon, and set stickers and frames.
  • Mass Effect Legendary Edition adds a Photo Mode to all games, letting you take cinematic shots of Shepard and their companions wherever they are.
  • The 3DS version of Miitopia always has the 3DS's screenshot feature enabled, whereas it's disabled on most other 3DS games. The Nintendo Switch version has it too, but the Switch's built-in screenshot feature is enabled on most games anyway.

    Simulation Games 
  • In APICO, you can press P (or any button that you reassign this to) to turn on Photo Mode, which removes all menus and buttons to let you screencap your world.
  • In both Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator, you can enter photo mode to take a picture of your Big Badass Rig or any other scenery items of interest. Various sliders let you control the Depth of Field as well as contrast, brightness, saturation, and even control the hue in RGB. The 1.41 update even allows you to change the time of day and weather for the perfect photo. After taking a snapshot, you can then upload these to your World of Trucks profile, either in the gallery or to use as your "profile truck" in each game, displaying the stats when moused over on the website.
  • Mini Metro and its sequel Mini Motorways let you take a picture of your final layout at the end of the level.
  • Every mainline game in The Sims series has had a photo mode since The Sims 2, which can be accessed by pressing the Tab key in live mode or build/buy mode. It allows the game's camera to be moved much closer to Sims than is normally possible and it hides the game's UI. Screenshots can then be taken by pressing the C key, and video clips can be recorded with the V key.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • In Hitman 3, the game introduces the camera item, with the primary purpose being to function as a photo mode from a first-person perspective. It does have a mechanical use; unlocking specific doors and windows, but not every level has those obstacles, and are secondary most of the time. Case in point, the last level strips you of all items except for the camera, and those secondary features simply aren't used, so all you can use it for is taking pretty pictures. The camera has four color filter options; default (uses the in-game lighting), Amora (a green-ish filter), Threshold (a black and white filter), and Late Sunset (a purple and yellow filter), and also includes a Depth of Field effect to blur the background, as well as up to 4x zoom. The game pauses when you take a photo as well, meaning it can also be used like a pair of binoculars to scope out areas or notable targets or NPC's, akin to a similar item in Hitman: Blood Money.

    Survival Sandbox 
  • Subnautica: Below Zero has a simplistic, goofy example if you use your Spy Pengling robot's camera mode while close to the Player Character — Robin will strike a random pose for the camera, with some gaudy photo borders thrown in for good measure.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The remake of Panzer Dragoon patched in a photo mode with a variety of filters to use.
  • Added to Returnal as of 2.0 Update with classic lens and lighting settings.
  • Splatoon 3 has a photo mode that's accessible while in the Hub City, the singleplayer Hub World, or when scouting out multiplayer stages in Recon Mode. It allows you to position the camera (represented diagetically as a flying drone) in an area near your character, apply multiple filters, set a timer so your character can move into position before it goes off, and include location data of where exactly you are in the Splatoon world. Also, if you win a 100x or 333x Splatfest match, you get access to a unique version of the photo mode that lets you pose with your team in front of your chosen idol.
  • Captura in Warframe is this although only in special maps accessed through the customization screen in the player's arsenal. The player can spawn in enemies and alter lighting and light sources as well as slow down time to capture acrobatic stunts and even plot a path of an Orbital Shot. It is essentially a developer tool for creating cinematics that was made user-friendly enough for the players.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • XCOM 2's War of the Chosen expansion adds a "Photobooth" that can be accessed in your headquarters or immediately after a mission, with the in-game explanation that you're providing pro-Resistance propaganda posters (which indeed can appear on the sides of buildings on subsequent maps). You can change your soldiers' formation and poses, reposition them on the battlefield, and add filters, backgrounds, visual effects, and captions, all options that have been expanded even further by mods on the Steam Workshop. Besides celebrating successful missions, you will be prompted to visit the photobooth after your soldiers make Sergeant, or become bonded... or end up KIA, resulting in a "memorialize" option.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Animal Crossing:
    • In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you are free to take photos of any and all of the things in the game from the fixed perspective of the camera, which you could then send to Twitter via a dedicated website.
    • In Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, you have access to a separate camera tool that is primarily used for surveying the house your building from a first-person view, but it can be used to take screenshots of villagers.
    • In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the Nookphone has a Camera app, which allows the player to take a picture of their character and pick from some filters. The 2.0 update adds a handheld mode, allowing the player to see from their character's point of view, and a tripod mode.
  • A bit of unconventional one is added to Grand Theft Auto V with Freemode Events Update in 2015. First, you have to record a clip for at least a couple of seconds with the Director Mode, which lets you modify the environment and character poses. Then in the Rockstar Editor menu, you can move the camera within a clip and edit image settings.
  • No Man's Sky adds Photo Mode with the Pathfinder Update, which can also be used like a radar. The PC version lets you save photos right to the Steam account. Your current portal coordinates are also indicated in the bottom left corner, so other players can come and visit you.
  • You can add blur, filters, frames, and stickers to screenshots in Red Dead Redemption 2.
  • The Creature Editor in Spore has a Test Drive, which lets you play with your creatures and share photos of it.
  • Camera Mode in Terraria lets you either capture a screenshot of your current screen or select a frame to take a larger snapshot with, allowing you to remove the presence of entities (such as players, enemies, dropped items, Ludicrous Gibs, etc.) as well as select a different background, letting you get pictures of your mega buildings. Larger pictures will have lower resolution but you can have the game save separate, full-scale pictures that can then be stitched together in an image program of choice.

  • Some games that support NVIDIA Ansel allow the tool to overtake the camera controls and apply image settings to screenshots.
  • When Miiverse was active, it allowed anyone to take screenshots of the 3DS, and then upload them to Miiverse. Unfortunately, since the website died in 2017, the functionality died with it.
  • A Facebook game Happy Pets allowed the player to pause the gameplay and take a photo of their pets, which got uploaded to an album on your Facebook account.

Non-video game examples:

  • Parodied in an episode of Epic NPC Man where the NPC is not paused and can see everything what's happening.
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy has Dom demonstrate his developing game to his father. A slam dunk gets accentuated by an in-game screenshot called "posterize". This feature is later implemented after Lebron's game-winning dunk, which captures Al-G Rhythm into a Phantom-Zone Picture and Pete shreds it.