Photographer captures the latest craze – PokemonGo

July 28, 2016

You may of heard  in the last few weeks of a certain new mobile game called PokemonGo. It has been everywhere, making headlines and becoming the most downloaded app of all time, beating facebook in terms of screen time on a mobile phone! With millions of fans of Pokemon worldwide, it’s no surprise how popular this game has become. Seeing how obsessed people were in Australia and the United States (who got the app a few weeks before the UK and Europe), photographer Travis Hodges photographed the day the app went live in the heart of London. 


pokemon go logo

pokemon go in centeral london by travis hodges

 ©’Gotta Catch Em All’ – Travis Hodges INSTITUTE

Your photographs were the first of a great standard to come out, how quickly did you get yourself together for these shoots?

 I had seen the growth of the game in America and wanted to be ready to shoot in London once it was released here. I actually pitched the story to a couple of regular clients (including Buzzfeed) with the plan of shooting on the UK release day. The game was released quite suddenly so I decided to go out and make some images even though I hadn’t managed to set up a commission. I was mainly interested in the initial reaction so I shot and published quite quickly, the series was available on my website and represented by my agency INSTITUTE Artists within 24 hours of the game being launched. 


What is it about PokemonGO that has grabbed people’s imaginations? 

Whilst Pokémon Go is not the first augmented reality game I think that it created a perfect storm of technology, nostalgia and viral spread. It’s the global version of a craze spreading around the playground. Some people want to play because they loved the original, others simply because they don’t want to be left out of the water cooler conversations. There is also a lot more acceptance of gaming now with a wider range of people playing; gaming is not just for geeks anymore! My aim was to collect stories from those playing and to create a set of images that depicted the slightly quirky sight of people stood about absorbed in their phones.

 pokemon go players on bikes in london

 ©’Gotta Catch Em All’ – Travis Hodges INSTITUTE


pokemon go trainers in london

  ©’Gotta Catch Em All’ – Travis Hodges INSTITUTE


What were your experiences like interacting and photographing people hooked by this new game?

Whilst shooting this it became clear who was playing and who was just texting etc. People’s erratic movement and unusual interaction with their phones instantly gave them away as players, the game also gathered people into particular areas as they found Poké-stops and Gyms so I had little trouble finding subjects. I have never had problems approaching people in the street but this was a completely different experience, everyone I approached wanted to talk about the game, to share tips, discuss the phenomenon or simply talk about how it brings people together. Strangers don’t talk to each other in London (or at least people joke that they don’t) but the nature of the game definitely broke down barriers and helped kick start conversations.

If you were going to print these images for an exhibition or for your portfolio, what would you choose?

Usually my go to paper is your Hahnemuhle  Pearl Giclee paper, but to stick with new experiences like the ones I had on this shoot, I think something glossy like the Fuji Gloss paper you stock. This would give a great look and feel to these set of images and capture the contrasting colours well. 


pokemon go trainers photographed by travis hodges

 ©’Gotta Catch Em All’ – Travis Hodges INSTITUTE

travis hodges photographs pokemon go players

 ©’Gotta Catch Em All’ – Travis Hodges INSTITUTE

Projects involving technology is something you’re familiar with, what do you think is the longevity of this project and the app itself?

I had already created a number of images depicting people absorbed in their phones, I think it is really interesting how people interact with technology and how much we rely on these little computers in our pockets. I had yet to find a way to develop narrative around these images so with the release of Pokémon Go I had the opportunity to put together a series showing this strange relationship between people and their phones. I think that the app will find its natural level as the craze dies down, no doubt the people behind it have updates and new features ready to be released when attention wanes. 

Have you felt the urge to go catch em all yourself?

I tried to download the game so that I could use it to find prime Pokémon hunting spots but found that my phone didn’t support the app! I’m secretly pleased that I ‘can’t’ play as I know that I would get completely addicted! I created my own game, hunting down and collecting images of Pokémon players!


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