HazelCrocus is an incredible AR photographer whose work features joyful Pokémon, stunning nature locations, and makes AR images that just make you smile!
Hi hazelcrocus! First of all, tell us about yourself and where you are from.
Hi there, I am Hazel Crocus (real name Mathilde), 28 years old ( or young however you look at it). I live in the Netherlands, in the province of North-Holland. I love photography ( nature/wildlife & AR), I like to go on walks, read books, listen to music, and game on my Switch (e.g. Pokémon sword, Animal crossing, mario kart).
How did you first get into Pokémon?
I got to know the Pokémon franchise through the anime series, which I really liked. I liked the interaction between the series characters and their Pokémon. I never really played the main series games, as I mostly played Harry Potter games on the Nintendo DS, as I was a bigger Harry Potter fan. As I grew older for some time I kind of forgot about Pokémon, as I have many other hobbies. I got back into Pokémon when I started playing Pokémon
When did you start playing Pokémon GO, and who was your starter?
I originally did play a bit in July 2016, got caught up in the hype, however the phone I had back then wasn’t compatible for Pokémon Go, and I quickly stopped again.
I really started playing on October 8th in 2018, and my starter was Squirtle!
When I started playing, I was working on my Bachelor thesis, and was looking for a game I could do while outside to empty my mind and really unwind. I lived very close to the research institute where I did my thesis and I noticed I was only thinking about my thesis project and nothing else. After this realization, I came across Pokémon go, and decided to give it a shot again. And ever since then I play every single day.
What level are you currently, and which team did you pick?
I am currently level 44 and I am team Mystic. Why I choose mystic, the name sounded mysterious, the main colour is blue and the text that Blanche said about that mystic is all about studying why Pokémon evolve. And that sounds like something I would definitely be interested in to study.
Who are your favourite Pokémon and why? Are they also the Pokémon you like to use in AR?
My favourite Pokémon, that is a good question I love quite a few. But ones that always jump straight to my mind are Vaporeon, seal, the horsea family, Skrelp and many more. I quickly need to add Inkay to this list ( Inkay has just been released ingame, and has instantly become one of my favourite Pokémon).
Basically my favourite Pokémon are water types and mostly water types that are based on real life marine life. If you wonder why? I studied Coastal and Marine Management and majored in Marine Biology. At the moment I am still looking for my perfect marine biology job.
But besides the water types, I must say, I also love some of the terrestrial Pokémon, specifically ones you can find in forest such as Eevee, Vulpix, Skwovet and Bunnelby.
What phone do you use, and what apps do you recommend for the budding AR photographer?
At the moment I am using the Sony Xperia 5. Snapseed is my main edit app that I use. It is very simple and does absolute wonder, I mainly use it to tweak the colours a bit and add a little bit of shadowing to make the Pokémon a bit more realistic. Besides snapseed, I also use Picsart, Photolayers (edits) and sometimes Photoshop express (for filters).
What are your favourite techniques to use in AR photos?
That’s a good question I am not really sure. I guess the technique I use depends on the Pokémon and the setting in the background and what I want to express with the photo. But I do like to make Pokémon tiny or at least smaller, especially when I take AR photos in the garden between the plants and flowers. Further I like the Bokeh technique, and l love buddy photography.
You use Buddy Mode a lot for your photographs to show different emotions from your Pokémon, how do you feel about the recent changes to Buddy Mode and lack of animations as discussed in this article #BringBackOurBuddy?
Oh yes, I love Buddy mode! The animations of Pokémon within the buddy mode are just amazing, these animations really give the Pokémon more of a character to play with during a photo session. Which really helps to tell a story or create a certain feeling within a picture.
The missing animations, I really do miss them as they were so much more enthusiastic and showed more emotions. Take some of the eeveelutions for example, especially Vaporeon, Leafeon and Glaceon, they used have such a happy jump animation, and now it is just a slight smile and a nod. The enthusiasm they used to have, really could show the bond between a trainer and their Pokémon.
What would be really amazing is if Niantic acknowledges the problem that we, the AR community, have brought to light. We have had this problem for quite some time now, but I do think that lately there is some hope again. Especially after all the noise that the Pokémon Go community made with the POI changes and the lack of communication. Niantic did acknowledge that they were wrong and are working on better ways to communicate with us, the player base. I guess we need to hope that they will include the missing AR animations as well. I do belief that we should keep making efforts and posts until Niantic talks about this problem. We would really appreciate any acknowledgement, even just a letter telling why or if it is a bug and that they are working on AR in general would be amazing.
Do you have your first ever AR photo, and if you do, can we share it and hear about it?
I believe my first photo was that of Eevee in a local park looking down some stairs to the trees, it was taken in the beginning of January 2020. I had received my new phone and it was compatible for AR Plus. Which for me meant that I was ‘’finally’’ able to make AR photos. It was something I really wanted to try out. As I am a hobby nature and wildlife photographer, and seeing AR photo’s on Instagram and at the end of Zoë two dots vlogs got me really inspired.
Not sure anymore why I choose Eevee for my first AR photo, I guess it just felt right with the colours of the park that day. And Eevee is such a cutie, so why not. 😊
What are your favourite type of locations to work in? You seem to have access to some beautiful nature locations.
There are various locations around my hometown where I love to take AR Photos. As, yes, there are plenty of nature options. I love taking pictures on the beach and the pier, which is only a 15min cycle ride away. The pier stretches 2km into the sea which makes it amazing for sea photos, of course the pier is only accessible when the weather allows it. Besides the coast I also have the National Park Zuid-Kennermerland, which is just a 10minute walk away from my home. The national park exist of a forest and dunes which are both amazing habitats for AR photos with different types of Pokémon.
But I also like to take AR photos around bunkers, my hometown has many bunkers which still remain from WWII.
What is your favourite AR photo you’ve ever taken?
My favourite oh, not sure if I actually have a favourite photo. Let me scroll through my Instagram page for a second and see which ones really jump out for me. Okay found a shot. Not sure if it is my favourite, but I am definitely proud how this shot turned out! This Gardevoir shot was part of series which told a little story of Gardevoir revisiting the estate of Beeckestijn, and me not being sure what she was doing there. What I love about this specific picture is the positioning, overlooking the fountain and the estate. I remember that this was also one of the first times I edited some additional shadows on a Pokémon, to make it more realistic and I think it really worked out in this shot.
Where do you hope to see Pokémon GO and AR go in the future?
I hope that AR within Pokémon Go gets some much needed updates. For example I still don’t have reality blending, and would love to try it, even though I have seen that it doesn’t work perfectly yet. It would also be amazing to get more animations for the Pokémon, some animations are only available in a wild encounter, it would be brilliant if these were also available after you caught them. A quality of life update would be to be able to turn AR plus on and off within your photo session, instead of leaving and go into settings.
With the game itself, good one, not sure exactly what needs to change. But a change is definitely necessary, to make the game a bit less monotonous, as I do feel like that sometimes. But I do like the incorporation of the seasons, the change in Pokémon spawns really excites me to explore again in the beginning of a new season. Maybe incorporate the different habitats in the world even more than they are doing in the current season.
Which other AR photographers do you recommend following?
There are some many amazing AR Photographers, it so hard to choose. I really would recommend just to check my account and see who I follow. But some I think that you should follow
And well many, many more! Like I said there are so many AR photographers out there all with their own take and vision on telling stories and showing Pokémon in the real world.
And finally, where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @Hazelcrocus and for my nature photography you can find me @Mathilde_Trailsofthesea