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How To Get The Most Out Of Photo Mode

by Joe Juba on Aug 05, 2020 at 02:10 PM

Photo mode is one of the breakout stars of this generation of gaming. Though it has technically been around for longer, a confluence of factors have created the perfect environment for photo mode to thrive on current consoles – factors like breathtaking graphics, cutting-edge technology, and the rise of social media.

With an ever-expanding array of options, photo modes are allowing everyday gamers to capture screens that look like works of art. However, you don’t need a background in photography to take great shots. All of the different filters, effects, and other settings are there to help ordinary people produce extraordinary results. So if you’re interested in getting better screens of your favorite games, here are some low-effort/high-reward tips to help you preserve your triumphant moments (and hilarious failures) for the ages.

Do Early Tests

Don’t wait until something super-cool happens before experimenting. You don’t want to miss your chance at capturing a great moment because you’re fumbling with the controls trying to figure out how to activate photo mode. Instead, figure that out early under regular circumstances; enter photo mode to see the extent of your options, fiddle with the settings, and take some throwaway test pictures. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing the basics will help you recognize opportunities.

The Rule Of Thirds

This is as photography-focused as we’re going to get here, but being familiar with the rule of thirds can make a huge difference in how your frame the action. If you divide your image into a 3x3 grid, you want your big visual elements to be placed along the dividing lines or at their intersections. The positions don’t need to be pixel-perfect, but following this general guidance leads to more interesting compositions.

Use All Your Tools

Sometimes, you just want to grab a quick screenshot – but the best photo modes let you do more than just adjust the camera angle. Filters can change the whole visual vibe of your shot, and various stickers and overlays let you further personalize the image. Don’t forget to dig into those features and see what they add. Once you understand the options, you might even discover some unexpected visual elements or side effects that you can use to enhance your efforts in the future.

Consider The Situation

You won’t find many universal rules for good game photos, because your approach can and should vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, conventional wisdom says that your subject should not be back-lit, because it makes them too dark … but maybe a back-lit Spider-Man swinging through New York would look awesome. Beyond that, your approach to things like framing and focus will be different if you’re taking a portrait versus a landscape shot. So don’t fret too much about rules. Just play around and see what looks good to you.

Sometimes, It’s All About Moments

A great screenshot is more than the sum of various technical details. Ultimately, what you’re capturing is more impactful than how you’re capturing it. Finding cool, funny, or impressive moments to record makes a bigger difference than any fine adjustments you make after the fact. So if you focus on doing awesome stuff, awesome photos are more likely to result.

Take A Lot Of Shots

Do you have a friend who always seems to magically capture that perfect action moment? Not to ruin the mystery, but here’s their trick: They take a ton of pictures. You’re rarely ever going to get things exactly right on your first try; you never know when a character might blink, or have a weird clipping issue, or appear to float in mid-air. The more pictures you take, the more chances you have for everything to fall exactly into place.

Share Your Pictures

First, make sure you know where the photos are stored on your system of choice. Depending on the platform, you might have to do a little digging through the menus to find them. Then, considering linking up a social media account so you can show off your work! Sharing a good screenshot isn’t about saying, “Hey, look at what a good photographer I am.” It’s about saying, “Hey, look at this cool moment that’s possible in this game!”

Don’t Share Spoilers!

Yeah, that surprising twist or final boss might be cool, but don’t blast social media with pictures that might ruin the experience for other players. Just be cool, okay?

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