Members of the Flixel community are always excited to enrich each others lives with news on this evolving medium and tips on how to enhance their creative processes.
Take Mario Sahe-Lacheante, a London-based Flixel wizard and the second place winner in our recent Facebook Profile Video contest. Mario regularly provides feedback on different cinemagraph creations, shares his knowledge base and goes above and beyond by creating tutorials to assist all types of cinemagraphphiles.
We interviewed Mario to understand the creator behind such incredible efforts. Read on to learn about Mario’s photography background, how cinemagraphs have become a part of his portfolio and the importance of community in the creative field.
Mario Sahe-Lacheante: Photographer and Flixel Wizard
How did you get into photography?
Photography for me is a byproduct of my career, which started off as a video production runaround-do-everything guy for a small company, which later turned into working as a TV cameraman and eventually getting enough experience and practice with lighting to get hired as a director of photography. So unlike most people who use Flixel, my background comes from the video end, rather than the stills side. But I learned about all the basic elements of composing shots, exposing properly, etc. and picked up photography for a bit with a lame old point-and-shoot that I had before I bought my first DSLR (5D mark II) a few years later.
How did you first come across cinemagraphs and Flixel?
I think I saw some of the first cinemagraphs that Beck and Burg created about two or three years ago. I thought they were awesome, but at the time no workflow knowledge really existed and, while I was trying to do some research on it, life just got in the way. Last year, however, they crossed my radar again, and I thought I’d love to find out how to do it. By then, there was more knowledge available on the Photoshop and After Effects workflows, which seemed really long and cumbersome and not worth the effort, but with more digging I came across Cinemagraph Pro, and gave it a try.
I was working as a partner in an agency at the time, but I had some downtime and started playing with it, and ended up sneakily using all my spare (and not so spare) time over about 3 days to create as many cinemagraphs as I could from old footage. I think I made about 50 unique cinemagraphs in the first 3 days. Hooked was an understatement.
Challenge Yourself with Cinemagraphs
You frequently use different subjects, landscapes and viewpoints to create your cinemagraphs. What elements are the most important to you when you are shooting a cinemagraph?
I love variety. I know there’s a whole world that says that you’ve got to specialize in a niche, but I think that puts a severe limit on your work and if niche was gonna be it, then I want cinemagraphs to be my niche. And I also get bored pretty quickly if I do the same stuff. I started off with whiskies, and really loved it, and loved learning about some really intricate techniques to light bottles and drinks, but soon I wanted to push it further and ended up covering more subject matters, and it keeps it all really interesting for me.
So I guess what I look for, are challenges. Something that’s a creative or even a practical challenge. That doesn’t mean the cinemagraph itself should be difficult – but that it presents a unique challenge to me, which could be a matter of working out how to light something, or how to get some unique movement. I also tend to do a set series and then move on. So I’ll shoot a few on a whisky, and then a few in a gym, or in the city of London, or whatever the case, and then on to the next subject.
What is your favourite type of cinemagraph to shoot? How do cinemagraphs shape your ability to tell your stories and capture an idea, story and/or memory?
I’m not sure I have a favourite type of cinemagraph. I think it’s whatever I find my hands doing at the time that I love. I tend to try to avoid the easy way out, but I also forget that a lot of people still haven’t seen cinemagraphs, so to them an ‘easy way out’ cinemagraph will still be just as magical. So while I’ve avoided shooting fountains and stuff in the rain, I’ve gotten more attuned to grabbing those when I can, because at the end of the day I’m still creating. The challenge is just to catch up with the editing side of it.
Telling stories with cinemagraphs I think is still in its infancy. For me anyway. I have a couple of clients now that are more keen to work out how to tell their stories, and it’s an interesting challenge for me, because you can treat cinemagraphs in a really fragmented way, where it’s all about the one shot. But then, if you’re getting commissioned to tell a story, you’ve got to think about how your shots can actually connect to tell a collective story, as well as each telling their own. It’s easy just shooting random shots, like at an event. But to let them really speak together, is for me a whole different challenge.
Flixel Community: Helping Cinemagraph Creators Grow
You’re one of the most enthusiastic members in our Flixel community. What do you like best about our growing community? As a professional, how important is it to have a space to connect with others who share your passion for cinemagraphs?
Oh I think a healthy community is really of immeasurable importance. My career has grown with about 10% teaching, and about 10% mentoring, and 80% figuring it out. And figuring it out helps you develop some good skills for solving problems, but being mentored by someone that can teach you something in a few minutes, that would otherwise maybe take you months to learn, is absolutely invaluable. And I feel like I’ve figured out a lot around cinemagraphs, and around using methods of finding loops that can be really basic, but also really complicated, and I know the frustration of wanting to achieve something but you get stuck and need some help. So for that reason I love to help people where I can, and I love to see that many people in the community are the same. We wouldn’t want anyone to give up on cinemagraphs, only because they got stuck with a problem or, worse, someone in the community gave them a cold or condescending shoulder, which I’ve seen can happen in internet communities.
So I love seeing new talent come into the group, and seeing them get encouraged and I love seeing people get better and better and find their confidence in their work – it’s all a growing experience for each and every one of us. And I love seeing the quality of free timers’ work and how it gets really impressive, so I think it’s all moving in the right direction.
Do you have any tips for those who are just starting to create cinemagraphs?
Don’t give up. Seriously. Don’t give up on your cinemagraph shot that you planned for so long and struggled to make work. I’ve had many of those and I just refused to give in to some video that’s telling me it wants to be my boss, so I tend to figure out a way to beat it. But if it turns out that it doesn’t work, learn from it, and go again.
There’s also plenty of resources available, a few people have blogs up with information or tutorials, and we have a healthy community that will be happy to help and provide feedback.
On a bigger note, don’t give up thinking that all your hard work that you’re putting into cinemagraphs is just a hobby, or is not really going anywhere (unless this is your intention). You might get one paying client and not hear from anyone again for months – but don’t give up. Just keep on keeping on – people will see your work, word will get out and you’ll end up getting more work. We’re really in early, early days of cinemagraphs, and if you think about how absolutely saturated the photography market is, yet so many people still do it professional, just think about the potential for cinemagraphs, since only maybe a few thousand people around the world are doing them, if it is that many.
Keep on trying. Ask questions. Stay hungry!