Stephanie Lindgren
© Michal Konkol
Games
Meet Esports Photographer and Capture Point Judge Stephanie Lindgren
The experienced esports photographer shares her story and gives virtual photography tips for Red Bull Capture Point competitors.
By Jason Fanelli
Published on
Red Bull Capture Point is looking for the best virtual photographers in the United States, and after thousands of submissions we’re off to an amazing start. No matter which PlayStation game you’re capturing your photos from, our judges want you to give them your best shots.
We sat down with one of them, renowned esports photographer Stephanie Lindgren, to talk about her approach to photography both in real life and virtual as well as what she’s looking for in Capture Point entries. If you’re looking for some advice before submitting your work, here’s where to start.
How did you get started in photography?
I’ve always been the creative type of person, I’ve always drawn, done oil paintings, acrylics, everything like that. I was in a lot of art classes in school, and I always felt provoked by photographers that were in my class. I didn’t get it; I didn’t understand why what they did was considered art as well. At the time I thought “anyone can take a photo, right?” I saw some of the photos they were submitting and felt provoked, — I wanted to see what I could do as I considered myself a creative at the time (and I still do). I decided to see what I could do with this “art medium” called a camera.
I got myself a relatively fancy camera and I just started shooting things that I found interesting. I lived in South Florida at the time, so I shot a lot of nature and the beach, things like that, and eventually it grew on me. I went from being provoked by photography before to having a real admiration for what these people can do.
Luka "Perkz" Perković seen during the League of Legends World Championship Final in Paris, France on November 11, 2019.
Luka "Perkz" Perković
After finding your footing, what led you to esports photography specifically?
The whole photography thing for me started at the end of high school, and when I moved back to Sweden I had the opportunity to volunteer at Dreamhack Stockholm 2014, mainly for their social media volunteer crew. I wanted to do good social media of course, but I realized that I couldn’t do good social media if I didn’t have good content. We had a team of photographers at the time, but I knew what I wanted for content, so I decided to try and combine my role.
After Dreamhack Stockholm I went to DreamHack Winter a few months later and I volunteered for the photography team. Since then, it’s snowballed — for DreamHack it was a lot of taking pictures of the expo or whatever I felt was aesthetically pleasing, but over time it became projects like Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Street Fighter, and everything being played there.
Which live esports events were your favorites to cover? Which crowds gave you the best pictures?
Fighting games always bring it. I want to specifically mention the French and Spanish fighting game community in that they always bring the loudest crowds. They’re berserk!
When I’m shooting Counter-Strike, for example the Blast Pro Series in Copenhagen, when Astralis plays in front of that home Copenhagen crowd they are loud. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to the “Church of Counter-Strike” (ESL Cologne in Germany), that’s on my bucket list of events.
Tachikawa at Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour LCQ.
Tachikawa pumps his fist to the skies
What’s the first live event you’re hoping to cover when live events begin again?
My first event back, hopefully, will be a fighting game event. I want to be back there when everything comes back. Not only do I love the games, but I love the tournaments I’ve been to. Specifically, I’d like to hit Combo Breaker and CEO, as well as East Coast Throwdown which I’ve never been to.
Aside from that I want to shoot the DOTA 2 International. It’s been a dream event of mine, and last year it was supposed to be here in Sweden. When I’d heard it was coming here, I cried, but then when it was cancelled due to the pandemic I cried for a different reason.
Let’s talk about virtual photography in general. What’s your initial impression of the medium and its community?
I definitely came in with an open mind and admiration, because it is different than normal photography. Honestly it was something I was pretty clueless about coming in, I didn’t realize the technicalities that go into making a really good virtual photo. I’ve been in a Discord group for this type of stuff for a while, and I’ve found the community super welcoming for beginners. They answer questions, they offer guides for how to break in, so it felt really good to become a part of it.
Romain Bigeard seen during the League of Legends World Championship Final in Paris, France on November 11, 2019
Romain Bigeard Cosplaying at League of Legends Worlds 2019
What led you to join that Discord? Did anything in particular inspire you?
I knew for sure I wanted to get into virtual photography with Cyberpunk 2077. I love the aesthetic of cyberpunk in general. I have a couple of friends who are already in the virtual photography community, they started giving me tips as soon as I mentioned I was interested.
Have you learned anything, both through Capture Point and your own virtual photography experience, that could translate to real-life photography?
I can’t describe it with a specific technique or learning, but it’s definitely inspired me and scratched the itch I’ve had with so few live events happening right now. In seeing this I have a few “ooh and ahh” moments seeing these photos and what they convey, so I can definitely envision a time where I’m at a live event and I think back to the photos I saw during this contest in order to get a better shot.
Conversely, is there anything from your real-life photography experience that has translated well in the shift to virtual photography?
Yeah, I’d say so. Whenever I look at a real-life photo one of my first thoughts is “what was the photographer thinking at this moment?” With virtual photography you get more time to plan out a shot as opposed to real-life events, where you only get one shot to capture a moment in time.
In this contest I’m thinking things like “how hard did this person think about this shot?”, “how much time went into timing it?”, “how much did they think about the lighting and the angle?”, things like that. I consider all the choices that virtual photographers have access to, whereas with real-life photography it’s on-the-spot, on-the-go with every shot. I know that sometimes you have unfortunate angles or not enough light for a shot, but these things aren’t a problem in virtual photography. There’s more thought put into the shots because there’s more flexibility.
Conversely, is there anything from your real-life photography experience that has translated well in the shift to virtual photography?
From a judging standpoint, as I mentioned I think with virtual photography you are way more in control and you have more time to plan your shots. There are more tools to enhance what you’re looking at and what you want to show off in your photo. In real life esports you only get one shot, there’s only one trophy moment or there’s only one pop-off for a big win. At a real-life event you’re at the mercy of whoever controls the lighting, which can be tricky. Unfortunately, not all lighting is created equal at these events, and sometimes you just have to deal with it. In gaming there are tips and tricks and tools to get what you want, so the photographer has more power.
Spectators are seen at the League of Legends World Championship in Madrid, Spain
League of Legends Spectators
In that regard, what in your opinion will make a great virtual photo for this contest? What are you looking for in submissions you view?
I look for something that’s going to move me. I’m not looking for any specific type of emotion, but I want something that’s going to have me staring at this photo saying, “holy crap this is something.” Anger, sadness, beauty, whatever it is I want things to stand out and be unique. For each category, Emotions Run High, The Great Outdoors, etc., a lot of the games are perfectly matched for them so I can see how well a person has planned for the specific category they submitted for. I’m looking for that connection between the categories and how well both the game and the photo itself translate to that category.
Are there photos from any particular game that you find draw you in more than the other eligible games?
I have to say God of War is special, you can submit yourself into the Emotions Run High category simply based on Kratos’s face. It’s always very emotive, angry most of the time but also in his relationship with Atreus.
Ghost of Tsushima is another one, not only is it a great game but for many it’s been a stepping stone into this world of virtual photography with its beautiful nature scenes. Horizon: Zero Dawn has been another notable one for The Great Outdoors, there've been a lot of great submissions from both of these games in that category.
Are you a fan of virtual photography? If you’re in the United States, head to RedBull.com/CapturePoint and see how your best PlayStation virtual photographs could win some awesome prizes by submitting on Twitter with #RedBullCapturePoint and #Contest.