How To Take the Perfect AR Photo

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As Pokémon GO advances in the field of AR technology, it only makes sense that Trainers worldwide become more and more interactive in the way they play, and part of this is not only being a Pokémon Trainer, but being an AR Photographer as well.

The magical thing about AR Photography is that literally any Trainer can do it. It takes no previous photography experience, special equipment, or knowledge. It is truly an activity for any Trainer, anytime, anywhere, period.

But this begs the question, how do you take the perfect AR Photo? Is there really a “better” way? And if so, can I do it?

What Makes up a Perfect AR Photo

Now that we have realized our objective, what’s next? Exactly what makes up a perfect AR Photo? What parts must we pay attention to? There are many components to a great photo, and although not every photo requires every one of these areas to be perfect, these tactics will sure help the average photographer become an even better one. These main topics include:

  • Using Surroundings – Does the Pokémon actually fit there?
  • Sizing the Pokémon – Is the Pokémon really that size?
  • Grounding the Pokémon – Does it look like the Pokémon is really standing there?
  • Practical Effects – Does the Pokémon actually look real?
  • Editing – Does it really make a difference?

Using Surroundings

There is a reason why using your surroundings is number 1 on this list, because it’s the most important story behind every AR photo. Our surroundings are what dictates the photo we take, the Pokémon itself is the main protagonist of your photo, but what you put in the background directly influences the story your protagonist is there to tell.

Does the Pokémon actually fit there?

Does the Pokémon actually suit what’s around it? Maybe taking a photo of a Blastoise deep in the jungle looks amazing, but would we expect a Blastoise to be there? Part of AR is trying to bring Pokémon into the real-world the best way possible, and part of this is paying attention to our surroundings.

Whenever we take an AR photo, your surroundings roughly break down into two sections, the background and the foreground areas.


This area is what is seen behind the Pokémon, and it is recommended that you use the Pokémon’s appearance as a compliment to the background. This happens when you choose the location for a Pokémon based on its typing. Certain Pokémon from certain typings will always look better in their natural habitats.


This is the area below and in front of the Pokémon, as well as the surface that the Pokémon is directly standing on. Take into consideration how the Pokémon stands, how it is positioned, if the Pokémon is very bottom-heavy, more likely than not it will need a wider surface area to fit in perfectly for the photo; similarly with thinner or more fragile looking Pokémon, the surface area they take up might not be that big, so it will be a lot easier to play around with the surface it is on.


Let’s take a look at the examples we have on the right and see why they are good or bad examples of using surroundings. (Note: We will view these examples from top to bottom)

  • Zangoose – In the countryside, Zangoose works perfectly, giving off a predatory vibe, placing it in the wild was the perfect position for it.
  • Absol Although the photo looks great, the background was not used well, and we can’t tell exactly where Absol is, and thus it gives zero context.
  • Ursaring – It plays perfectly with the forest surrounding, not only playing well into the tree leaves background, but also positioned perfectly in the foreground!
  • Rayquaza – You probably wouldn’t expect this Pokémon to spend its time at a skating ring. It’s great for a commemorative photo, but other than that, why would it be there?

Sizing the Pokémon

This is one of the biggest and easiest ways to mess up a good AR photo, and it is one of the most common mistakes we see Trainers make when attempting to first get into AR Photography. Part of making your Pokémon realistic is by giving it a realistic size. You have the perfect background for it, but why does that matter if you can only see a fraction of it because of how close you are and how tiny the Pokémon appears?

Is the Pokémon really that size?

Is the Pokémon in the picture really that small or really that big? A good portion of sizing the Pokémon is simply based on personal opinion, however there always tends to be a certain size range that you can take from memory.

One of the common questions when getting into AR Photography is if you need to have AR+ to take great photos, and the answer is no, here we can observe two different tactics for AR Photography for both if you do or not have access to AR+ on your device.

AR Mode

In AR Mode, the Pokémon will always remain the same size, the “sizing” of the Pokémon depends completely on the relation to its background, nothing more. We recommend you get as close to the ground as possible and back up from there, you should arrive at a point in which the relationship between Pokémon and Background looks balanced.

AR+ Mode

AR+ Mode has its bugs and issues at times that can really ruin Pokémon sizing, but as long as you pay attention to the on-screen prompts when you activate it, the Pokémon should appear as its intended size, no matter how far away or close you are to it.


Let’s take a look at the examples we have on the right and see why they are good or bad examples of sizing the Pokémon. (Note: We will view these examples from top to bottom)

  • Snorlax – Using AR+ Mode, we can see a perfect example of how easy it can be to incorporate a Pokémon’s size, and hey, a Snorlax is blocking the path!
  • Totodile – As we can see, the Photographer is a far distance away from ground level, so the Pokémon remains the same size on their phone, could this be a baby Godzilla?
  • Makuhita* – Here’s a perfect illustration of the relationship between Pokémon and Background, this photo represents Makuhita’s size perfectly.
  • Grimer – Althoguh the photo is cute, this shows us what happens when there is an imbalance between Pokémon and Background: we get Grimers in Coffee Cups!

Grounding the Pokémon

Although we would love to make a pun about grounding your Pokémon fighting at Gyms late instead of coming home, let’s talk about what grounding the Pokémon actually is. You managed to get the perfect surrounding, the perfect Pokémon size, you take your photo, and something still looks off, literally! It looks like your Pokémon isn’t actually standing there.

Does it look like the Pokémon is really standing there?

Does the Pokémon appear to actually be where you intend for it to be? The idea behind that question might seem strange, but it happens often that we see a photo where the Pokémon doesn’t seem to be part of the picture.

There are three different reasons this could be the case, and unfortunately, some of these reasons are a bit more difficult to deal with then others.


Interference can occur in one of two ways, first we have Background Interference which occurs when the Pokémon is submerged too far into the background. This occurs when the spacing between the Pokémon and the surface behind it are too close. Aside from this we have Object Interference which occurs when an object or item is directly situated “inside” or underneath the Pokémon.


Movement plays a big role in grounding the Pokémon, however there are two types of movement. Trainer Movement refers to when your person simply moves the camera too much! Causing a blurry foreground. The second type of movement is Animation Movement which happens when a Pokémon is in mid-animation, which for some Pokémon can influence its shadow, causing issues with its depth perception.


Let’s take a look at the examples we have on the right and see why they are good or bad examples of grounding the Pokémon. (Note: We will view these examples from top to bottom)

  • Roselia – An upclose look of proper Grounding, it has the perfect Foreground for portraying its shadow, and has zero interference, beautiful!
  • Chansey – Having a somewhat large 3D model, it unfortunately has some Background Interference behind it, although only slightly. It breaks the depth perception.
  • Pinsir – Although surrounded on all sides, there is a great amount of space around it to avoid any interference.
  • Swinub – Here we can see clear Animation movement, its shadow disappears, and with the similarly colored foreground, it’s impossible to see where it’s standing!

Practical Effects

The perfect surrounding, sizing, grounding and all! What could possibly be missing? Truthfully? Nothing! You have taken all of the necessary steps to taking the Perfect AR Photo! But what’s this? You’re an overachiever? Well then if that’s the case, it’s time to bring in some Practical Effects!

Does the Pokémon actually look real?

Does it look like that Pokémon actually exist in the world? As profound as that question is, it’s a genuine one, even if you have everything perfect in your photo, sometimes, it just feels like something is missing.

Here we have two optional notes to take into consideration, neither are necessary, but they are in fact useful!


As ridiculous as it may be to mention, finding AR Photos taken in the dark is not an uncommon thing to see, and the first rule about lighting, is that you shouldn’t take AR pictures in the dark, it ruins every step we have seen in taking the perfect AR Photo. That aside, looking for the perfect shot based on lighting is a great thing to do, certain Pokémon appear to have lighting at different angles or points, so if you can find a place that naturally has that inclination, it just makes the Pokémon look realer!


Yes, Props. Need we say more? Although in most cases they can just be boring or useless, if done correctly and appropriately, it can work to further explain the story in your photo. Prop placement should somewhat be aligned to the same standards we have used until now. Having a prop directly interact with the Pokémon might not fit, but adding it as a complement to the Pokémon is the perfect solution!


We have arrived at the last step in the process, you have done everything correctly and you have taken an amazing photo that will stun even the most professional of photographers, now what? Well, you’re not done quite yet. You can edit everything at the moment of preparing a photo, but what about afterwards?

Does editing really make a difference?

Does editing your photo post-take actually do anything? We would be willing to guarantee that you or someone has thought “the reason all those previous pictures look good is because of filters!” and you know what? You are right. Editing Photos serves the function of enhancing every area you previous worked on getting right.

Editing a photo can be really separated into two areas, Full Photo Editing, and Partial Photo Editing.

Full Photo Editing

Full photo editing refers to changing certain configurations of a photo which changes the entirety of its appearance. Not only does this refer to filters but to other functions as well such as contrast, brightness, exposure, saturation, and more! There is really no “right” way to go about it, just keep playing around with different options until you’re happy with the end result! Note however that the previous components we have seen still need to be visible, otherwise the entire shot will be ruined!

Partial Photo Editing

This type of editing might sound confusing, but it refers to optional editing that you can apply to certain areas of a photo, this could be editing the coloring of a Pokémon to make it appear brighter, applying a blur to the surrounding areas of the photo, maybe even placing “props” that weren’t there before! Just like the Full Photo Editing, there isn’t a truly “right” way to go about this, we can only say that you have be sure to not forget the previous components we have seen.


AR Photography is an activity for any Trainer. Anyone can truly do it, and it takes nothing but a phone to get started. Many Trainers may blame AR+ for their own inability or discouragement to take AR Photos, but in reality that is all it is, their own discouragement. We can say that AR+ does give Trainers easier access to these photos, but in no way, shape or form does this mean that you cannot do it without it.

One last detail that we would like to mention is that in order to come up with the perfect photo, not all of these boxes need to be checked, the perfect AR Photo before anything has to be perfect to you!

AR Photography is something that will grow more and more as Pokémon GO keeps moving. Will you join in on the fun? If you do, share your experience and photos with the GO Hub through our Discord and send it to our #ar_pictures channel.

You might be the best Trainer on the block, but how are your AR photography skills? We hope that after reading this, you’re a pro at that too. Practice makes perfect and we hope the best for your Photography, and above all else, have fun!

Take some great Photos, have some great fun, and stay safe, Trainers!



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Josh Provines
Josh Provines
So I hear you like Pokémon GO... me too! Want some gifts from México? Add me @1474-8846-2207! I make Presentations and translate English and Spanish, want to hire me for a job? @

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