Artist Recognition: Scionjay96

Welcome to our second ‘Artist Recognition’ post! This time we are showcasing an artist who is very popular within the Tomb Raider community for his wonderful art of the heroine. Like before, we have asked the artist to choose his 12 favourite shots, and we held an interview with the artist himself. All of which can be seen down below.
VPGamers: Firstly, welcome, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Scionjay96: Hi my name is Jay, and I’m better known as Scionjay96, Lara’s photographer! I have loved video games ever since I was a kid. I basically grew up with video games and watched them grow alongside me starting with the PS1 at a young age.

VPGamers: When did you get into VP, and what made you get into it?
Scionjay96:
Getting into VP and being a part of the community was fully unplanned. I did not even know the community existed when I took my first gaming photo. When Shadow of the Tomb Raider was about to release I remember reading an article about how it was coming out with a photo mode, and in the article, it made a joke about “you can make Lara have her very own Instagram account”. So once I started getting this large collection I said to myself, maybe I’ll just make Lara her own Instagram. I started posting photos and all of a sudden I was gaining followers and attention like crazy, which shocked me because the attention was coming from not only other fans of Lara but the virtual photography community. So from there I quickly learned about this amazing community of talented passionate fans creating and posting art inside of the game daily. I fell in love with the community and was able to spend more time in my favorite games.

VPGamers: You mentioned you started out playing games on PlayStation 1, aside from Tomb Raider, what other games did you enjoy growing up?
Scionjay96:
Growing up my first memory of learning what video games were was seeing my dad play Tomb Raider 1 on his computer but I was too young to fully understand what it was but loved getting to explore croft manor. When I got to an age where I was actually playing games I loved playing Spyro, The Sims, and anything platformer or adventure-based.

VPGamers: What made you fall in love with the character, Lara Croft?
Scionjay96:
Growing up I was always surrounded by strong and independent women. When I first was introduced to Lara at such a young age I just saw my family reflected in her. Confident, witty, and taking no crap from anyone. And the love for her only grew as she evolved and more games came out. Now, why do I love survivor Lara as much as I do? When TR2013 came out I was pretty close in age to what was her new age and I thought it was so cool that I can now see myself in Lara. And then once I’ve completed her full origins story by Shadow it was just something I can relate to (obviously I never went through half the insane things she has) but I can relate to going through so much trauma and overcoming it to be able to live a happier life. She just keeps moving and that is something I carry with me each day

VPGamers: How do you feel about the VP community?
Scionjay96:
I absolutely love the VP community and being a part of it. It’s one of the kindest most supportive communities out there. There’s really nothing else like it on the internet. It’s a space where we can all both share our love for the game we are taking photos in and enjoy each other’s art. It is really such a beautiful thing and I’m so happy that I stumbled upon it way back in my beginnings.

VPGamers: What direction do you see VP heading in?
Scionjay96:
Since starting VP with Shadows release I’ve watched both the community and the way we are supported by the developers themselves evolve. There was a time when even though the game came with a photo mode the company itself wouldn’t acknowledge or share the art we were making in their game. Now we see VPs being discovered and actively supported by developers. They support us and encourage us. Almost every game comes out with a photo mode because we bring a level of promotional longevity that wasn’t there before. And what makes it even more special is that we are the fans. We are the ones who love the game so much we want to photograph it countless times and share it with the world. Our passion and form of artistic expression breathes a different type of life into the game itself. I am not sure where the future of virtual photography is headed. But I am sure excited to be a part of the ride.

VPGamers: Should more developers cater for VP by including Photo Modes in their games?
Scionjay96:
Absolutely every game that comes out should come with a photo mode on launch. It helps build so much excitement and hype. I cannot tell you the number of people who have started playing a game just because of one of my photos. New fans are built in so many ways and one of them is through our art. And also there are a lot of us here who will go out of our way to check out a game just because there is a photo mode in it.

VPGamers: How can developers and players take VP to the next level?
Scionjay96:
I think the next level absolutely has to be giving us more freedom. Yes, sometimes limitations does breed creativity. But I think we need to have more assets and ways to interact with the photo mode itself. The only developer that is touching that right now is insomniac. By giving us virtual lights to play with in-game they allowed us to be able to create a perfect shot in any and all locations. Now imagine that but what if there were in-game assets we could also drop and add in too? Adding enemies, in-game effects, and more would be a dream in addition to having lighting and camera freedom.

VPGamers: What do you think is next for Lara Croft, and do you think they should remaster the original trilogy?
Scionjay96:
Right now what’s next for Lara is really a mystery. We know she is currently being put through a bit of unification to make sure all fans of Lara can see their favorite Lara in her. I daydream all the time of what that could possibly be but unfortunately, we don’t know the answer yet. I’ll go on whatever journey or direction she’s being taken on. I just need it to have a photo mode to make me happy. I believe most of us fans would love remasters or ports of the classics. Just an easier way to go back in history and play the series (for us console players) would be nice.

VPGamers: Finally, can you tell us a bit about why you specifically chose those 12 pieces of VP art to share with us?
Scionjay96:
Each photo I take I put so much love into. My process always starts with lighting. I take so much time to make sure I am either finding a new lighting source that will make her look as realistic as possible or I will manipulate the elements in-game to achieve that. I take so much time setting up a shot and perfecting it. And once the photo is taken I spend even more time color correcting and editing away any glitches or issues I find afterward. Because of that narrowing down all my photos to just 12 was kind of hard. However, the 12 I have chosen are my prized gems. After all these years of taking photos in Shadow, these 12 are all ones that I have never taken a photo like it before, the green smoke one is something I’ve never done to such an effect and it was inspired by an idea my friend @outlawdeputy gave me live on Twitch. The one with Lara holding a pistol next to her face was a photo style I have attempted for years but only recently was able to get it perfect, the lighting, her face. Everything was just what I wanted. Lastly the arrow one, it was a complete stroke of luck that I paused at just the right moment and got an image that dynamic. That one was also taken live on Twitch and me and my friends got to be excited together about capturing a moment like that. Each photo has a story behind me taking it. A memory both saved in the game and also behind the “camera”.

Huge thanks to Scionjay96 for allowing us into his life and getting to know the man behind the camera, and what gets his artistic clock ticking. He is a talented artist and a huge focal point within the Tomb Raider community. Fab work!

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