Capturing Grand Theft Auto’s hidden communities

Bored and lusting over pre-pandemic life, photographer Mikey Corcoran hopped into his Chevrolet, switched on Space 103.2 and got to know the locals of Los Santos. The fictional city of Grand Theft Auto 5.

Like everyone and their nans, photographer Mikey Corcoran found himself stuck at home twiddling his thumbs early last year, when the UK went into its first nationwide lockdown. Unable to capture the communities he was used to pointing a lens at, like darts fans, football fanatics and London geezers, Corcoran came up with an innovative solution: to photograph the characters making up Grand Theft Auto 5 instead. Afterall, that game had been keeping him busy over all those sorry months.

The idea came from my admiration for capturing small communities,” the 22-year-old Londoner says. I knew the game had a feature that allowed you to take photographs, although many of the photos I had seen before had been edited to resemble a terrible action film – that didn’t interest me at all.”

So Corcoran turned the keys of his Chevrolet Corvette, switched on Space 103.2 and, like no good GTA fan, abided by traffic laws and stuck to speed limits, all in his pursuit to find the curious communities making up much of the game’s fictional city of Los Santos. Corcoran’s snapshots pick up the details most of us miss while we’re mugging a sad sod on the street, or hot-wiring a car before robbing a bank, like a hot dog vendor, smoking grannies, ticket-issuing officers, and the detailed interiors of a dated circa 1960s house.

Escaping The Real World, all doom and gloom, doesn’t seem like a bad idea these days. And while he was out capturing the ordinary people of Los Santos, the photographer couldn’t help but notice an irony in what he was doing in the game. Simply walking around, going for a drive and people watching formed a very basic part of [my life] before the lockdown,” he says.

I wasn’t really trying to convey any sort of message, but now I think about it, it’s just to have fun with what you can.”


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