Cinemagraphs are a stylish looking combination of a still photograph and an animation loop. Both Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, the creators of this technique, like to see them as a living moment in a still photograph.

I think of it as a living photograph. It’s a photograph that has a living moment inside of it.

Cinemagraphs have an addictive nature that can keep you looking at them like in a hypnotic state. When done right, the animation is perceived as a seamless, continued motion. Unsurprisingly these animations are starting to show up in advertising campaigns lately. And of course, in social media too.

Gif Animation vs. Cinemagraphs

A Gif animation is a short video that is usually a clip of a longer video. Lately, it has been widely used in social media to express emotions or reactions.

Instead, a Cinemagraph is a controlled combination of an animation loop and a still image. It’s an enhanced version of a photograph that tells a tiny, little story.

In the still image below you can’t easily make an abstraction of what’s going on. It’s part of a greater story; it’s a step of the cooking process of some delicious dessert.

But in the following Cinemagraph, the focus is on the subtle action. Forget about the dessert. The story here is the slow movement of the hand whipping the cream. The emotions and feelings of this particular moment. Nothing else matters.

Let’s now take a look at the work of different artists and photographers that embraced this technique, producing high-quality artworks for their clients or followers.

Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck

They are known as the creators of this method. Jamie and Kevin live and work in New York City creating photography, video, and Cinemagraphs for fashion and commercial campaigns as well as publishing work on their website, Ann Street Studio.

You may find interesting the behind the scenes story of their Cinemagraphs production for Amazon Fashion Store

Click on each image for a full-size view. The animation may take a while to start All images are copyright to Ann Street Studio.

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Daria Khoroshavina & Olga Kolesnikova

Daria and Olga are talented food photographers and artists. They started their Kitchen Ghosts project for fun, experimenting, and love for food preparation.

I love this project with all my heart, it’s not just about food and recipes, it’s about magic in everyday life, surprising, inspiring, exceeding expectations.

Click on each image for a full-size view. The animation may take a while to start All images are copyright to Kitchen Ghosts.

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Mark Hollingshead

Mark Hollingshead is a storm chaser from Nebraska, a perfect place to become fascinated by storms. He has been chasing storms for more than a decade and is self-taught, both in meteorology and photography. His photographs and animations are so popular that he started to sell prints and highly detailed How-To tutorials at his website Storm and Sky.

Click on each image for a full-size view. The animation may take a while to start All images are copyright to Mark Hollingshead.

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Julien Douvier

Julien is a creative photographer that lives in Strasbourg, France. Most of his work is about urban life and nature. His Cinemagraphs include just little touch animation somewhere around the image, reflecting his obsessive attention to detail. Julien has put up a page with a behind the scenes production where you can learn how he works on the field.

Click on each image for a full-size view. The animation may take a while to start All images are copyright to Julien Douvier.

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How to create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop

The creation process of Cinemagraph consists in four simple steps:

  1. Create a seamless animation loop from the video you took or downloaded.
  2. Choose a still frame from the animation and place it in a layer above the loop.
  3. Mask the still image to reveal part of the underlying animation
  4. Save the image as a GIF in Photoshop

That’s easier said than done. The most time-consuming part is shooting or finding the perfect video animation. Creating the continuous and seamless loop is also a bit complicated, but you’ll get used to it quickly.

There are several desktop and mobile apps that can help you create Cinemagraphs. If you are going to get serious about creating Cinemagraphs, then you should consider opening an account in Flixel, a community of Cinemagraph creators.

But since you are already working with Photoshop, then there is no need to learn a new tool.

How to Create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop

Aaron Nace from Phlearn has put up a thorough Cinemagraph creation Photoshop tutorial. At first sight, it may seem a bit complex, but Aaron takes his time to explain every step carefully. After a few tries, I’m pretty sure that you will finally master this technique.

Although we’ve only scratched the surface, I believe that there is a lot here to get you started. I’m sure that this has opened a new world for you. In your next photography day out, you’ll put your camera’s filming capabilities to good use and see things in a much different way.