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Pokemon GO has added dozens of new features since its launch in the summer of 2016. One of the most exciting among them is the photo mode, in which players can take pictures of their favorite Pokemon interacting with the real world around them!

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You can take pictures for your own collection and enjoyment, but you'll also need to take them for some quests. Additionally, there are often photobombs by other Pokemon during some events that will cause that Pokemon to spawn on the map! This is the only way to encounter Smeargle, as well.

This guide walks you through the process of taking a picture, whether it's of a wild Pokemon you just encountered or a long-time pal from your storage.


Take A Snapshot Of A Wild Pokemon

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Bunnelby (instructive image) (left player and Bunnelby in the overworld) (centre a wild Bunnelby appears) (right Bunnelby encounter with arrow pointing to camera feature)

If you want to take a picture of a Pokemon you've encountered in the wild, start by tapping on it just like if you were trying to catch it. Instead of throwing a Pokeball, though, look at the top of your screen. In the center, there's a small camera icon that you can tap on to enter photo mode! It's the exact same in AR mode, you'll just need to find the Pokemon first.

Taking The Snapshot

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Bunnelby (instructive image) (left promo image of camera) (centre Bunnelby in photo mode) (right choosing whether to discard or save your photo)

To start taking pictures, simply press the little white camera button in the bottom center of your screen! The app makes a satisfying chime and shows you the photo you just took.

Once you've taken a picture, you'll get two options in the bottom right corners: a trash can on the left and a checkmark on the right. Selecting the trash can will delete the photo. Selecting the checkmark will save the photo to your phone.

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The End Of The Photoshoot

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Bunnelby (instructive image) (left Bunnelby in Camera Mode) (centre normal encounter menu with Bunnelby) (right promo image of Pikachu from Pokemon Go)

Once you're done taking pictures of the wild Pokemon, click the arrow button on the bottom left of the screen. It'll simply boot you back to the regular menu, with Pokeballs to throw and berries to use. Then, you can attempt to catch the Pokemon as per usual or run away from the fight!

Take A Snapshot Of Your Own Pokemon

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Pikachu (instructional image) (left player in overworld) (centre main menu) (right Pikachu summary)

It's super easy to take a picture of any Pokemon you've caught! Go to your Pokemon storage in the app and just tap on one that you want to take a snapshot of. On the right-hand side of the screen at the top of this menu, there's a small camera icon just below the "Favorite" star.

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Taking The Snapshot

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Pikachu (instructional image) (left looking around flat area) (centre pokemon footprints) (right pikachu emerges from ball)

Taking a picture of your own Pokemon always occurs in AR mode. You'll need to have an empty space around you where you can "place" the Pokemon. The app gives instructions on how to do this on the bottom of the screen but it can still be a finicky process.

To ensure you'll be able to spot the "footprints" of the pokemon...

  • Make sure the floor you're pointing the camera at is clear of other items, whether that's animals, socks, pots, or something else — this makes it easier for the app to recognize it as a flat surface
  • If you think the area where you're looking at should be working (but it isn't), try turning the camera away for a moment to a place that clearly isn't a floor, and then back to the floor — this helps give the app a reference point for what it's looking at

When you've done it correctly, you'll be able to see your Pokemon's "footprints."

  • Footprints are always yellow, no matter which Pokemon you've chosen
  • Footprints appear in a variety of shapes and styles at once, no matter the Pokemon you've chosen. You may be taking a picture of a Pikachu and notice that there are claw prints in the mix
  • Footprints are interspersed with little white glimmers, to make sure that you can see them in any environment
  • Footprints can appear in small numbers or large ones — they're indicating anywhere that the app has registered as a valid place to place a Pokemon

Now that you've spotted your Pokemon's footprints, tap anywhere on them to release your Pokemon into the world! You may want to change where the Pokemon has been placed and this could be for a number of reasons: perhaps the app registered somewhere as the floor that wasn't really the floor, or you just want a better positioning for the picture. To do that, all you need to do is hit the icon in the bottom left of the screen, which looks like a Pokeball and an arrow and is next to the camera icon. The Pokemon will go back into their ball and can be released again the same way.

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Pikachu (instructional image)

Next, you'll be able to snap pictures using the camera button in the bottom center of the screen! Tap on the Pokemon to get them to emote for the picture. To see the picture you just took, click the preview in the bottom right-hand corner. You'll only be able to see the last picture taken, though, until you exit the photo session for good.

The End Of The Photo Shoot

Pokemon Go - Taking A Photo of Pikachu (instructional image) (left pickachu in photo mode) (centre preview of shareable snapshot) (right prompt to share snapshots)

When you're done taking pictures, just tap on the door-and-arrow icon in the top left of the screen. At this point, you'll be able to view all the images you took during the photoshoot. Any picture you take will be saved to your phone automatically but this menu allows you to easily share the pictures to social media.

Click the curved arrow in the bottom right while viewing all your snapshots to share as many as you like! When you're finished, just tap the "x" and you'll be booted back to the overworld.

Bonus: Surprise Encounters In Snapshots!

Pokemon Go - Catching Smeargle (instructional image) (Smeargle in overworld on left) (Smeargle photobombing picture on right)
Images via Stephanie Woor on nintendolife.com

Occasionally, a special Pokemon will photobomb your snapshots! You may catch a glimpse of it when you take the photo but you'll only really know at the end of the photoshoot. You can go through your pictures and see if any unfamiliar Pokemon have been added to the frame.

Note: Keep in mind that this will only work when you take pictures of your own Pokemon in AR, not with wild Pokemon.

If you were photobombed, the Pokemon will appear next to you in the overworld once you exit. Tap on it and catch it like any other Pokemon!

There's one Pokemon, Smeargle (seen in the photo above), that can only be caught by encountering it this way. However, during events, Niantic has occasionally added temporary surprise encounters with other Pokemon. For example, during Fashion Week 2021, Furfrou was appearing as a surprise encounter from snapshots.

A Note On Permissions In Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO Promo image of child playing Pokemon GO on right, screenshot of in-game permission request on left

As citizens of the internet, it's important for us all to be aware of our rights and the data and/or processes to which we're allowing corporations to have access.

When you initially download Pokemon GO and boot it up for the first time, you'll be met with the prompt: "Allow Pokemon GO to take pictures and record video?" This is used to give the app access to your camera, so that you can take pictures in real life through the game. Then, the first time that you go to take a picture of a Pokemon, you'll be asked: "Allow Pokemon GO to access photos, media, and files on your device?" This is necessary so that Pokemon GO can save the photos you take to your device.

It's necessary to agree to the second permission to take pictures of wild Pokemon and it's necessary to agree to both permissions to take photos of Pokemon in AR (augmented reality).

All photos you take in Pokemon GO are automatically saved on your device.

Note that the exact wording of permissions may differ between phones, providers, and services.

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