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Pokémon Go AR Snapshot: How to take pics of Pokémon (and find Smeargle)

Pokémon Go’s camera gets fancier

Smeargle the Pokemon stands in a carpeted room at Vox Media in a shot from Pokemon Go Niantic/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

Pokémon Go’s first major update of 2019 brought an upgrade to its camera function. AR Snapshot makes taking photos of Pokémon much more interactive than before, allowing players to position their Pokémon in the real world, tapping them to get their attention and make them pose accordingly. With the Pokémon more appropriately scaled than before, it’s a lot more fun to take pictures of — or with! — them.

How does the feature work? It’s pretty simple, but we’ll explain it in further detail below.

Charmander sitting on a laptop.
Sir, please. I’m working.
Niantic/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

How do I open AR Snapshot mode?

First, navigate to your Pokémon collection by tapping on the Poké Ball at the bottom of the main map screen. Select a Pokémon you’d like to photograph; you’ll see a camera icon on their profile screen in the right-hand corner. Tap that, and AR Snapshot will launch automatically.

That is, assuming you have ARCore installed.

What is ARCore?

Niantic’s parent company Google developed ARCore as a more advanced form of augmented reality tech. Its main selling points are smarter motion tracking and “environmental understanding,” including better awareness of the light in an area. Niantic uses, and requires, ARCore for Pokémon Go’s updated camera mode to make the photos more dynamic. The game may prompt you to install it if you have a compatible device that does not already have ARCore downloaded onto it.

Pikachu sitting on a living room coffee table.
Hey, you! Pikachu!
Niantic/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

How do I get my Pokémon to appear on screen?

When the game enters AR Snapshot mode, it will prompt you to focus on a flat, open area around you. Once you’ve found one, the game wants you to slowly pan around it; as you do so, sparkles will appear. Sparkles are a good sign, as they’re generally followed by small, yellow footprints. Tapping on the footprints will place the Pokémon you’ve chosen to photograph on screen, out in the world around you.

How do I pose my Pokémon?

AR Snapshot isn’t that sophisticated, but there are options to move a Pokémon around. Swipe down on the Pokémon to turn it around, positioning it closer to you. Swipe in other directions, and it will react in other ways. Maybe it will be annoyed and unleash an attack in your direction. Other times, it could jump, or change its expression, or you’ll simply change the way it’s facing once more.

Totodile on the floor in front of a TV.
Totodile didn’t like that I had The Tonight Show on while I was working. Sorry!
Niantic/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

How do I save and upload my pictures?

Once you’ve taken as many photos as you want, you can exit out of the AR Snapshot mode. Photos will be saved automatically, and they also can be shared from Pokémon Go directly. You’ll be taken to a page where you can choose from several social media options, as well as email and other apps, to upload your snapshots, too.

What about Smeargle? How do I catch it?

The rare Pokémon Smeargle will occasionally, unexpectedly appear in your photos. To know if Smeargle photobombed you, look at the preview of your most recent photo in the bottom right corner of the screen. It will pulse three times in a row, and you’ll even be able to see a little bit of Smeargle in the preview. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to go catch the Pokémon after returning to the map screen.

Smeargle is incredibly rare, however, so don’t expect to find and catch it immediately. It could take hundreds of tries before the Pokémon pops up, so time to get to it.

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