15 Great Photography Games to Play in 2024

For photographers who cannot get enough of photography in the real world, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it in the virtual world.

Perhaps the most famous photography game of all time is Pokémon Snap, a cult classic for the Nintendo 64 that has received a much-anticipated sequel on Nintendo Switch. However, photography games go far beyond on-rails “point and shoot” games like Pokémon Snap.

Great Photography Games Guide
Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Some games, such as Season, A Letter to the Future, instead use photography as a vital narrative element to tell a compelling story. Others try to simulate photography in video game form, proposing a realistic photo experience.

There is even a subset of photography games that are “horror” video games, where the character uses a camera to photograph ghosts and monsters or sometimes even must survive a terrifying situation armed only with a camera.

Some games are not about photography but include sophisticated “photo modes,” allowing virtual photographers to capture incredible, lifelike images of amazing scenes or even plan out real-world shoots using a game. Beginner photographers can also learn some basic skills using photo modes. For example, games with realistic lighting engines can teach people much about how light interacts with different subjects.

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Games in Which Photography is the Primary Gameplay Element

These video games are ones where photography is the sole or primary way the player interacts with the game. The gameplay loop itself is photography. This does not necessarily mean a game is a photography simulator, although it can be. It just means the player spends most of their time taking photos during normal gameplay.

New Pokémon Snap

Available on: Switch, $60

Retro alternative: Pokémon Snap (Nintendo 64, $14-100 depending on condition)

New Pokémon Snap is the long-awaited sequel to Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64. Released more than 20 years after the original game, New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch is a beautiful game that offers the same fundamental gameplay loop as its predecessor, albeit with way better visuals, many more Pokémon, and a handful of new features.

In New Pokémon Snap, players assume the role of a Pokémon Photographer and travel around different habitats in an on-rails hovercraft. The craft moves through the levels at a constant rate, although the player can speed up. Players can capture photos of a wide range of Pokémon exhibiting different behaviors and interesting poses by using different items and paying close attention to their surroundings. Players are scored based on how centered a Pokémon is, its pose and behavior, its size in the frame, and its rarity. Players are encouraged to replay levels to see new areas and unlock secret interactions.

Great Photography Games Guide
Credit: Fujifilm

Nintendo even worked with Fujifilm to make a mobile app for the game that allows players to print images from an Instax Mini Link printer. There is also a Pokémon-themed printer available.

Great Photography Games Guide
Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Summary: This game is suitable for players of all ages and is a great choice for anyone who loves Pokémon. It is not a great choice for people who want their images judged based on genuine composition or people who want a photography simulator.

Lushfoil Photography Sim

Available on: PC and Consoles, Coming Soon

While not yet available, Lushfoil Photography Sim is poised to be a beautiful, realistic photography simulation game on PC and consoles. Published by Annapurna Interactive, Lushfoil is currently in beta testing and is built upon developer Matt Newell’s prior games, Castle Rock Beach, West Australia and Mýrdalssandur, Iceland.

Using Unreal Engine 5, Lushfoil promises significantly improved visuals with better fidelity and realism. Many locations will appeal to landscape and nature photographers, including environments in Italy, Japan, France, Nepal, and China.

The game provides players with a realistic DSLR camera and a first-person drone that they can use to explore environments and capture lifelike photos.

Summary: This photography simulation looks like it will offer a fun, realistic photo experience for its players. While it may not have the charm of a game like New Pokémon Snap, Lushfoil will probably appeal to more serious photographers.


Available on: PlayStation 3, $100-$150 used

Given that Afrika is a PlayStation 3 game – and very expensive on the used market – it is only a compelling choice for video game collectors or extreme photography gamers. However, if someone could find the game for cheap, they will find a relatively in-depth game with many exciting photography features.

In Afrika, the player is a photojournalist or zoologist hired to photograph wild animals in Africa. The game is all about missions, which players receive at base camp. Traveling by foot, car, or even hot air balloon, players must explore and find specific animals to photograph.

Completing missions earns players in-game money, which they can spend on new supplies, like an upgraded camera or new lenses. Given that it is a PlayStation game, it is no surprise that the in-game cameras are Sony models, including the Sony a100, a350, and a700. Players can even unlock a vertical grip for the a700 model. Lenses include various Sony A-mount zooms and the 300mm f/2.8 G, which is the cream of the crop.

There are also remote control cameras, camera traps, and automatic “Crittercam” equipment to unlock.

When players photograph virtual animals, they unlock real-life photos and videos of animals. Be careful, though, as being attacked by an animal in the game results in losing all the photos from a safari.

Summary: Despite receiving mixed reviews and not selling well, Afrika is a very in-depth game. Having imported the game when it launched in Japan, I would welcome a sequel, but that will never happen.

Umurangi Generation

Available on: PC, Switch, and Xbox, $15-25

An indie darling, Umurangi Generation, landed on PC in 2020 and arrived on consoles the following year. In the stylized first-person game, players must take photos of objects with specific lenses. Aside from these missions, players can explore the world to their heart’s content.

By progressing through the game and completing missions, players unlock different lenses, including telephoto and fisheye optics, and can apply additional edits and effects to their images.

There is an expansion, Umurangi Generation Macro that added camera systems like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO adjustments, plus four new levels. The DLC also added roller skates to allow players to move around the world more rapidly.

Umurangi Generation delivers a strong narrative, offers interesting photography elements, and has been received very well by critics.

Summary: Some photography games offer a compelling story, while others offer interesting photography simulation elements. Very few games offer both. Umurangi Generation is one of those rare gems.


Available on: PC, Switch, and Xbox, $14-20

Few photographic subjects are as popular as cute animals, especially dogs. Some dogs even have their own Instagram accounts with millions of followers. Pupperazzi is all about taking photos of virtual dogs to build a social media following.

Players are tasked with getting the best photos of the cutest and most stylish dogs. As players get more followers, they can acquire upgraded camera gear. Players must overcome obstacles to get the best shot of the most popular dogs.

In their review for Game Informer, Jill Grodt says that Pupperazzi is “…the gaming equivalent of cotton candy. It’s sweet and makes the day feel more festive, but it’s not going to tide you over if you’re looking for something with real substance.”

The game is simple, sweet fun with a charming exterior and not an awful lot happening under the surface. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. When you crave cotton candy, it tastes great, even though it is shallow and fleeting.

Summary: Cute dogs, photography, and photos of cute dogs. What else could somebody want? Depth? That is not here. But did I mention the cute dogs?

Games That Use Photography as a Gameplay or Narrative Element

There are also many games where photography is part of a game’s design but is used more to help tell the story or work alongside other essential gameplay elements. While a game like Season, A Letter to the Future has players use a camera a lot, the photography elements work alongside other activities to tell an engrossing story. The camera is part of the experience but not the entire experience.

Beasts of Maravilla Island

Available on: PC, Switch, and Xbox, $10

A very affordable game, Beasts of Marvilla Island puts players in the shoes of a young wildlife photographer as they explore an island and try to capture photos, solve puzzles, and learn more about the mysterious locale.

Based on reviews, the game does not seem especially impressive, and it runs poorly on Nintendo Switch. However, it still earns a spot on this list because it is just $10, and it sports an engaging art style. Besides, on Steam, players enjoy the game, so it is far from universally panned.

Summary: This game has mixed reviews but is an affordable photography-oriented game with a lovely art style and interesting premise. It is a good choice for people who want a quick game at a fair price.

Season, A Letter to the Future

Available on: PC, PlayStation, $25-30

PetaPixel’s Jaron Schneider wrote a fantastic, in-depth review of Season, A Letter to the Future earlier this year. That is the best place to learn about the game. However, very broadly, the game is about investigating the idea of memory and experience.

Through exploration; recording using a camera, tape recorder, and journal; and digging into the mysterious world, the game leads the player to question the concept of remembering. The in-game camera is straightforward, although not quite as simple as the one in New Pokémon Snap, it remains a valuable tool for the player to grapple with the idea of the temporariness of memories and the permanence of photographs.

Summary: A good choice for people who want to enjoy a relatively short story in a mysterious world. Photography matters here, but not in the way that it does in a photo simulation game.

The Good Life

Available on: PC, Switch, Xbox, Playstation, $20-40

Armed with a camera and the ability to transform into an animal, the protagonist in The Good Life tries to solve a murder mystery in a strange British town. In her human form, the hero, Naomi, is a journalist able to take photos. Exciting photos will earn Naomi more social media followers, which results in more money to spend on items.

Naomi can explore the town in different ways as a cat or dog. Yes, it is a strange game.

As the player tries to get to the bottom of the underlying mystery, they must also ensure Naomi is clean, rested, and fed. The game is part investigation, part exploration, and part role-playing game.

Summary: The RPG uses photography as a gameplay element, but the star of the show is the complete absurdity of nearly everything that occurs.


Available on: PC and Mac, $10

Snapshot is an odd game challenging to fit into a box. On the one hand, the main character’s camera is required to play the game, so photography is a critical gameplay element. On the other hand, the player’s camera is used to manipulate objects in the world rather than take photos.

The side-scrolling game forces players to capture “snapshots” of objects in the world and then use those photos to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles.

Summary: Photographers who enjoy puzzles but do not necessarily need great photos in their video games should consider Snapshot.


Available on: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, $12-25

This is a weird one. In Eastshade, the player is a traveling painter exploring the eponymous island of Eastshade. Anthropomorphic animals populate the island, and the player explores from a first-person perspective.

Technically the player is painting pictures, but the process is a lot like composing a photograph, so it is more of an adventure photography game than anything else. Alongside these compositional exercises, players must also use their artistic talents to help the island’s inhabitants.

Despite its oddities, the game has fared quite well with critics, with many lauding Eastshade for its immersive world and lack of combat elements.

Summary: Eastshade is a good choice for adventure game fans. It is a serene, peaceful game that is somewhat light on “photography” but heavy on character.

Beyond Good & Evil

Available on: PC, Xbox 360, $10

Will Beyond Good & Evil 2 ever come out? It is hard to say, given that the game was first announced more than six years ago with no release date in sight. However, the original game, launched in 2003, remains a classic.

Players take control of Jade, an investigative reporter armed with a camera. Jade is much more than just a photographer, though, she is also skilled in martial arts and is a hitwoman. She has quite the CV.

Players take photos, sneak around, solve puzzles, and defeat enemies throughout the game’s story. Jade uses her camera to obtain evidence, complete assignments, and earn money. After upgrading her camera, she can even use it to attack enemies.

There is a good reason gamers so badly want Beyond Good & Evil 2 to come out finally — the original game is so good.

Summary: While the game’s graphics have not aged that well, and some gameplay elements are dated, Beyond Good & Evil delivers an engrossing story, stars an excellent protagonist, and uses a camera in interesting, albeit limited, ways.

Horror Games with Photography Elements

Horror games and psychological thrillers deserve their own category. They are scary, disturbing, and not for everyone.

Fatal Frame Series

Available on: PC and Consoles – Varies

The Fatal Frame series started in 2001 and is still going strong to this day with the latest release, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. While each entry in the series differs a bit, in every case, the player is equipped with a “Camera Obscura.” It is not an actual camera obscura but a special camera that can capture and calm spirits.

The player’s camera is their defense against the horrors lurking in the game’s many shadows. The camera can damage ghosts. The amount of damage the camera deals to an enemy depends on whether they are focused. As players defeat more enemies, they get more points, which they can use to upgrade the camera and acquire more powerful film.

Only some spirits in the games are out to get you. Some are passive and more like collectibles. However, if a player misses a spirit, they may be gone forever, never to be seen again.

While all games in the series are generally well-received by critics, save for a bad entry on Nintendo 3DS, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly stands above the rest and is considered by many to be among the best horror games ever made.

Summary: For photographers who love horror, are interested in Japanese folklore, and like taking photos under pressure, the Fatal Frame series is perfect.


Available on: PC , on Consoles in August 2023, $14

Fatal Frame is sort of like a ghost-hunting game, but Phasmophobia fully leans into the idea of capturing photos of ghosts. Phasmophobia is also notable because it is a cooperative horror game, one of the few multiplayer games in this guide.

Players communicate using in-game walkie-talkies and work together to complete missions. Of course, these missions are all centered around finding ghosts. Thanks in large part to a lively Twitch community and popularity on YouTube, Phasmophobia has found a passionate community of fans. The game is coming soon to Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5.

Summary: This paranormal investigation game is all about using cooperation and a camera to capture footage of ghosts. It is a good choice for horror fans and photographers looking for a game to play with friends.


Available on: PC, Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, $20

In Outlast, players assume the role of an investigative journalist learning more about an abandoned psychiatric hospital.

Played from a first-person perspective, the player must avoid enemies, as they have no weapons to attack any threats or defend themselves. Further, much of the game occurs in pitch darkness, so the only way to see is by looking through a camcorder equipped with night vision.

Summary: A terrifying game that tests the mettle of its players.

Martha is Dead

Available on: PC, PlayStation, $30

Another first-person game, Martha is Dead, takes place in Italy in 1944 and blurs the lines between reality, superstition, and the tragedy of World War II.

Set in a fictional town occupied by German soldiers, the player takes control of a photography-obsessed young girl, Giulia, who discovers the corpse of her twin sister, Martha, when taking nature photos at a lake near their home.

The narrative-driven game explores trauma, the blurry line between reality and delusion, and mental illness primarily through the lens of Giulia’s 1940 Rolleicord camera. The player uses photography to work through concepts of memory and how tragedy can disrupt the very idea of reality itself.

Summary: Players must confront terror through the lens of a Rollei camera. While emotionally driven, the game sports plenty of jump scares and horror, so it is far from a lighthearted romp through Italy.

Games with Great Photo Modes

Beyond the above games that are, at least in part, about photography and taking photos, plenty of games have nothing to do with photography but include spectacular in-game camera features and photo modes.

Games like Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Horizon 5 enable players on PlayStation and Xbox, respectively, to capture highly realistic and beautiful photos of cars.

Narrative games like Red Dead Redemption, God of War, The Last of Us, and Horizon Forbidden West let players take time away from story progression to capture beautiful, lifelike portraits and landscape images using sophisticated cameras, complete with exposure controls, editing tools, and sometimes even different focal lengths and apertures.

Great Photography Games Guide
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a beautiful video game that has proven very popular among virtual photographers.

Virtual photographers like Frederic Verdickt show that players must have a photographer’s eye and artistic skills even for virtual photography.


As video games become more realistic and virtual worlds grow richer, there are many ways for real-world photographers to enjoy photography in video games.

Whether it is taking lifelike virtual photos, enjoying a narrative through a virtual camera lens, or melding a passion for cameras with a love of horror, many great photography-themed video games are available on PC and consoles.