Create Great Wedding Cinemagraphs in 15 Steps


Image via PhotoJojo

What are cinemagraphs, you ask? Why, what a question! Essentially, they’re Graphics Interchange Format files, better known as .gifs. You’ve seen them all over your favorite entertainment websites online and you can even make them with nothing more than your smartphone these days, since, of course, there’s an app for that. However, there’s also a professional way to create great wedding cinemagraphs that will bring those unforgettable moments to life.

How to create great wedding cinemagraphs: A checklist

You’re going to need a camera that shoots video, a tripod, a video editing program and one version or another of Adobe Photoshop. And, of course, props, a model or several, and, most importantly, ideas for cinemagraphs.

#1. Plan out your scene. Shoot for subtle motions, moments and movements. In contrast, the rest of your scene should look great when still. Finally, aim for something that looks good when looped.

#2. Set up the camera as solidly as you can on its tripod and shoot away. You need 10 to 20 seconds of video tops.

#3. Make sure you’re shooting in the right format for Photoshop, i.e. either MOV or AVI.

#4. Import your video into Photoshop. You’re going to import the frames of the video into layers, and while more layers make for a smoother animation, anything above 100 layers is probably too much to work with.

#5. Check out the video frames, now imported into separate layers. Make sure you have all the layers you need.

#6. Go to Windows/Animation, to see the layers as actual frames in an animation. Play the animation to identify the moment you are going to be animating next.

#7. Once you’ve found the frames that display the portion you want to see animated. Bear in mind that some of the smoothness of the end .gif is going to be lost after you’ve deleted some of the layers, so choose them wisely.

#8. Choose your Alpha layer. That’s going to be the one layer that stays unchanged in the end .gif. duplicate it and place it over the other layers in the Layers window.

#9. Next, start creating movement in order to actually create great wedding cinemagraphs. This means that you need to start editing the Alpha layer with the aid of vector masks. These masks will effectively do away with the elements that are still in the Alpha layer, but that you want animated in the final version.

#10. Test out the animation, after you’re done masking the portions you want animated. Set the animation to loop Forever, then press play. Make note of any further edits you need to make, so as to make the movement as smooth as possible.

#11. Make sure your loop is smooth. There are several ways in which you can achieve this. One is by adding the Alpha layer plus the very first animation layer, right after the very last layer in the animation. Simply duplicate the last layer, then change what layers appear in it in the Layer window. For more complex animations, you’re going to want to loop some very specific frames in your Animation, that will help make the motion transition smoother.

#12. Color your .gif. .gif files unfortunately can’t hold as much color information as regular pictures, so you’re going to want to use an effect that works well with less data. You can either use a preset Photoshop action for a specific color effect, or colorize all the layers with a specific Photoshop mask.

#13. Save your final .gif in a resolution that’s suited for the web, i.e. not very large. You’re going to want your clients to show it off online and you’re also likely to showcase it in your portfolio. The typical resolution is 72 pixels/inch.

#14. Save the PSD project of the cinemagraph, then Save for Web & Devices.

#15. Enjoy the fact that you now know how to create great wedding cinemagraphs and don’t forget to show off your work!

A Little YouTube Inspiration For Photographers

Every once in a while, its nice to take a break and be inspired by something outside of your comfort zone. What are others doing in the world of photography? How can they motivate you to reach and grow and stretch beyond what you are currently doing with your own photography?

I recently ran across a few YouTube videos that provide inspiration to us photographers. Take a look and see what you think.

One Word – Can Changing One Word In Your Question Bring Success?

Are you asking yourself “How do we make people pay for photography” every day?

Maybe you’re asking the wrong question.

Instead, maybe it should be “How do we let people pay for photography”.

Changing “make” to “let” changes everything. It changes the way you think about your business. And it changes the way you approach your ideal clientele.

I found this idea listening to a recent video by a woman, Amanda Palmer,  that asked similar questions about her own industry – music – which in many ways is going through just as much chaotic change as the photography industry.

And what she found by changing her thought process was an amazing transformation.

She doesn’t charge for her music any more – its all for free on her site. Yet she’s active on social, caters to her fans BIG TIME, and simple asks for what she wants. And it works … to the tune of more than $1 million through a crowd funding site.

When is the last time you asked for anything? Or are you nervous about asking for what you truly want?

What if you asked for one thing you need every day? How would that impact your business? How would that impact your life?

Your Action Step:

Watch the video. Then ask for one thing today. And see what road this new idea takes you down.

Why Are You So Negative About Your Photography Business?

I literally read it every day.Negative Photographer

“All you give is pie in the sky advice. Everything’s great. How can you say that when it’s anything but?”

“People are awful. You can’t trust anyone. I want to provide quality work but I have to deal with all of this ‘stuff’ within the industry. Why can’t I just shoot and be the artist I want to be?”

And I feel your pain. I really do.

But when I read things like this, I know there is very little I can do. I can’t turn a switch in your brain and make you look at things differently. I can’t rework all you’ve done up until now to come to the conclusions you’ve reached.

I read a great book recently – one I would highly recommend. You can read it in an hour or two if you put your mind to it. It’s a fast read. But the thoughts are incredibly powerful. Thoughts that will make you think about how you approach things.

The book is Risky Is The New Safe by Randy Gage. I’ve followed Randy for years. I’ve attended one of his seminars. I love his “no bull” approach.

In this book, he wrote something I’d like to share. Something I’d like you to take to heart.

“Take the same opportunity and offer it to a broke person and a wealthy person, and I guarantee you they will see it differently. When I was poor, I looked at everything through the lens of the mind viruses I was infected with. No matter what business venture I was exposed to, I approached it with the beliefs that you need money to make money; you need an education and have to know people, and so on. I could look at anything and immediately give you 15 reasons why it wouldn’t work. While I was accumulating all the evidence why it couldn’t be done, people with prosperity consciousness were simply doing it.

For those many years I was struggling financially, I was a cynic. And nothing kills innovation, creativity and ambition faster than cynicism. It’s poverty consciousness.

Wealthy people have a healthy skepticism that causes them to evaluate things objectively and make good decisions based on solid assumptions. Skepticism is healthy; cynicism never is. Here’s why: If you ask the wrong question, the answer doesn’t matter. “

Make sense?

If you ask why the photography industry has changed, why you can’t make money the way you used to, or why consumers are terrible for wanting the digital files, you’re asking the wrong questions.

If you ask how you can change your pricing structure to give people what they really want, look for alternative ways to build your photography packages, or ask how photography will impact people in the coming years, you’re on the right track.

Photography isn’t dead. In fact, it’s anything but.

We read a lot now. But that’s changing. We’re incorporating more than ever into video and audio. We’re a graphic society. We attract through imagery. We’re obsessed with quick pictures. We love color and vibrancy. And that’s not going to change.

But the way our society lives, works, moves and thinks is changing.

Go back a hundred years or more, and it took a generation to get a new idea into place. Now it takes a year, or even a few months.

With that much change, it’s hard to wrap our brains around new ideas. Even before we come to terms with one idea, we’re on to something else.

But don’t think photography is alone. Ask anyone in any industry, and they’ll probably start talking about the chaos. Look at the music industry. Or the publishing industry. Or education.

Watch this year’s TED prize winner – Sugata Mitra and his wish to design the future of learning. Its simple. Its brilliant. And I couldn’t agree more.

Everything is changing. And yes, it’s difficult at times. Mind-blowingly difficult.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and exhilarating and full of potential.

What if you approached one thing differently today? Instead of saying “this sucks”, what if you said “I’m going to do one great thing?”

I know it’s not easy to believe this. I know it’s not easy to do this.

But what’s the alternative?

6 Tribal Laws That Affect Your Photography Business

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 6…

“I’m really wondering what to do next year. My business has never recovered from what it was a few years ago. I try and try, but I just can’t find the clients who are willing to spend what they used to. I’m struggling to stay in business and I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore. People want different things today. They just want digital files to share on Facebook, they don’t care about wedding albums or large portraits above their fireplace. Maybe I should shut my doors and do something else.”

I hear this story again and again from photographers all over the world.

And in many ways he is correct.

What is happening in today’s marketplace isn’t the same as what happened a few short years ago. We don’t shoot film, we shoot digital. We don’t need photo albums, we have our iPads. We don’t need to print a 4×5 to send to relatives half way around the world; we share it on Facebook and they see it instantly.

Times have changed. Which means we must change too or get lost in the shuffle.

Its like selling buggy whips in the era of horseless carriages. If the marketplace is changing and you don’t change with it, you will be put out of business.

Finding Your Tribe

One of my favorite books by Seth Godin is Tribes. A tribe links a small group of people to an idea. It creates a movement. And it is lead by the one person that foresees the change and decides to do something about it.

Will photography go away? Nope. Never. In fact its bigger now than it has ever been in the past.

Yet today’s technology has made “old time” photographers obsolete.

Which means as an industry, we have to find new ways to structure the business and move into a new direction. Seth Godin explains it best; it’s worth the watch. Then use these six steps to help you create your own movement.

Find a group that’s disconnected

This is the easy part. Photography doesn’t exist like it used to. You’ve figured that one out, right? Now its time to look at it in a whole new way. What can you do differently? What can you do to reach out to people that still love photography, yet want something in an entirely new way? [Read more…]

Photography Is Still An Experience

When you see an average picture, it simply stares back at you showing you an object, a person or a thing. It does little for you because you don’t become emotionally attached to it. Its just a representation of something at some point in time.

That unfortunately is how most photography exists. The average person whips out their iPhone and snaps a photo of the person they are with smiling at the camera. There may be something in the background, but for the most part its just another smiling picture amongst the many they’ve already posted to their Facebook page.

But if you come across an exceptional photograph, it does more than show you a person or object. It does something to you. It touches your heart. It makes you say wow. It gives you a reason to stare at it just a bit longer. It makes you feel like you are there, participating in whatever action is taking place.

And that is a rare art form. That truly is what separates a great professional photographer from everyone else.

If you look back over the life of photography, things are always changing. And you can find a true professional at every stage. One who took what photography had and pushed it to its limits.

While cameras and photography as a whole didn’t change much over a 100 year period, the onset of digital has sped up that process. And of course in some ways made the whole industry fall flat on its face. When everyone is a photographer, how can you separate what’s good from what is average? That’s the problem we are facing right now.

The general population is inundated with photographs – they are everywhere. So if someone jumps into the “professional” category, yet still takes average images, they soon lose a sense of what’s good and what’s great.

Which means now more than ever, separation is the key to survival. You have to look so different, be completely surprising in your presentation that the average person stops and stares and says wow.

Its never been about the picture or the subject matter. Its always been about the experience. And that experience can be spread across the entire time frame you are together with a client; from the creation of the image, to the way the final image is portrayed.

Because photography is changing, its important to keep up with the trends to find out how you can reach beyond what the average photographer is doing, and give yourself an edge setting up the “wow” experience. Its also important to see what people are investing in and what big companies think is going to be the next best thing in the world of photography. And according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban, that may be with a company called Condition One.

Condition One is an interesting new concept that combines still images, video and the iPad to give users the ability to look beyond any scene they are currently viewing.

Have you ever seen a photograph where you wish you could turn it just slightly to see what’s beyond the four sides of the image? Now you can.

It gives you the impression of being there. It allows you to be a part of the scene. It allows you to experience not only what you’re viewing, but also gives you the option of seeing beyond the scene. Its completely interactive and gives you a unique experience – the wow factor.

What are the possibilities? That still remains to be seen.

But like with any technology, the key here is to let it open up the possibilities and give you a reason to stretch and be different than your competition.

We already know photography is changing.

We know people don’t want the typical wall photographs like they used to.

We know they like technology, the ability to share things and the ability to carry things around on their iPhones and iPads.

We know video will be more important than ever in the future – its already built into many of today’s professional “still” cameras.

Will this give some truly inventive photographer an edge to succeed?

How To Get Clients With Viddy

I know what you’re thinking. Viddy? What’s Viddy? There is something else out there I need to know about?


Viddy is a social video editing and sharing app that just surpassed the 26 million user mark.

Where Instagram and other photo apps allow you to play with still images, Viddy gives you the tools to turn any 15 second video footage into something truly unique and shareable. You can add filters and music, and give it a true “movie trailer” look and feel.

And then you share it – that’s what today’s technology is all about.

Start by downloading Viddy to your iPhone and sign up using Facebook or Twitter – you can use an email instead if you choose.

When you’ve signed in, it will pull a list of your friends already on Viddy (providing you’ve used your Facebook/Twitter account), which will give you a few people to follow and see what they are doing. Following works in a similar manner to other social sites – just hit the follow button and they are added to your profile.

Create your profile by adding a photograph, and start videoing. [Read more…]

The Only Thing That Limits Us Is Our Imagination

How do you interpret the world? What is realistic … and what isn’t?

What if you could take different pieces of reality and put them together? What story would they tell?

Take a look at this video and see how quickly it turns your perspective around.

Artwork is truly in the mind of the beholder. And Erik’s tips to combine photographs can really make you think not just about combining multiple images into one, but also how you will tell stories with multiple images.

  • Photos combined should have the same perspective
  • Photos combined should have the same type of light
  • Make it impossible to distinguish where one image starts and the other ends.

Ultimately, in order to get just what you want, it takes planning. What are you going to try next?

Man, That’s A Nice Camera

Sometimes clients say the darnedest things. There have been been many times I’ve just sat there staring, wondering if they really know what they just said.

When was the last time you were asked, “can I just print my own copies” or “can you Photoshop this out”? If so, you should really appreciate this video…. Shtuff People Say to Photographers


What are your client saying to you in your Photography Business?

The Newest Beauty Secret … Fotoshop by Adobe

Do you love parodies? Do you love finding the Photoshop mistakes they make in some of the biggest magazines in the world? Then you’ll love this – Fotoshop by Adobe

Released 5 days ago and already approaching 1 million views, this video will make you laugh at how unrealistic our expectations really are when it comes to beauty.