New Pokemon Snap Pushes Against Everything I Learned in Photojournalism Class

I guess I'll just be unappreciated in my time as a Pokemon photographer.

I haven’t taken a lot of photography classes in my day. But when I was getting my bachelor’s degree, I did take one class that put names to concepts I had always naturally understood when it came to taking pictures. It helped refine my understanding of photo composition, and I think I’m a better photographer for it. And now that I know all these techniques, New Pokemon Snap is out here really pushing back against what comes easily to me. And while that’s been an interesting adjustment, it also makes me want to knock Professor Mirror on his ass and ask how my deliberately composed shot of a Tyrantrum roaring at me is of less value to his research than a picture of a Florges vibing directly in the center of my shot?

In the grand scheme of things, the scoring system New Pokemon Snap uses doesn’t have too much bearing on how I’m playing or what shots I try to make. The ones I submit to Professor Mirror for review are not usually my favorite shots. But the algorithm the game uses to score your photos is based on how centered the subject is in the frame. Which can be useful, but as some wildlife photographers will tell you, is not a kind of baseline ideal.

One of the main techniques taught to photographers and even filmmakers is the idea of the rule of thirds. It’s about keeping the subject of a photo or video shot slightly off center and to the side, which creates a more dynamic, aesthetically-pleasing shot. This is especially true of shots where the environment is key, as it allows you to show a greater context of the space your subject exists within. Here’s a video on the concept for a more detailed break down.

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But New Pokemon Snap doesn’t score your photos with the rule of thirds in mind. Instead, it cares about how centered the shot is, if the Pokemon you’re shooting a photo of takes up a majority of the shot itself, and if it’s facing you. There’s also some bonus points sent your way if you can get more Pokemon in the shot, but that’s also made less of a priority by the game rewarding you for centered pictures with the subject taking up most of the screen. Ultimately, I’m still free to take more photos that are to my taste, but it took me a few runs through of submitting what I thought was my best work to realize and accept Professor Mirror doesn’t want me to be out here taking award-winning Pokemon photos. He just wants to clearly see what the little fuckers are doing out in the wild.

So here ya go, Professor Mirror. I’ll keep the more Instagram-worthy ones for myself. Or, hell, maybe I’ll print them out and make a collage. But you can have this picture of a Kangaskan yelling in my general direction since you seem to love it so much.