Cinemagraphs are a compelling medium that tell a unique story. Many of the best cinemagraphs include a person. Why? Because people make a scene more personal, while helping to draw the viewers eye. That’s why I’m going to teach you how to shoot a portrait cinemagraph, from start to finish.
Creating cinemagraphs can be extremely simple, but when using a person as the subject, there are a few key tips that you’ll need to take into consideration. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to shoot a portrait cinemagraph to get the best results possible.
How To Shoot a Portrait Cinemagraph
STEP 1: Setup Equipment
You’ll need three items:
- SLR or iOS device that records HD video or higher
- Cinemagraph Pro
Start setting up your shot by testing out different camera angles and securing your tripod in place.
If you’re planning on using any lighting equipment, make sure that it is constant lighting, not strobe lighting. If you use strobe lighting, then you may suddenly have flashing in your cinemagraph, or the still frame is much brighter than the video portion of the cinemagraph. Cinemagraphs need to be a seamless blend of photo and video to trick the viewer into thinking they’re seeing a moving photo.
Once you’ve got all of your equipment setup, it’s time to move onto step 2.
STEP 2: Compose the Shot
The biggest tip I can give you, is also the simplest one: compose your shot like you would compose a photo. If you’re a photographer, you’ve already mastered this! All of the attention will be on the model, so make sure the composition of your portrait cinemagraph stands out. Think of it like this: a great cinemagraph could also be a great still photo, the motion just adds to the overall scene.
Think about what sort of loop you want to use in the cinemagraph before actually shooting it. Repeat loops work well for things like flowing water, or rising steam, but a bounce loop may be more appropriate for someone waving or turning their head from side to side.
STEP 3: Direct Your Subject
For people who haven’t modelled for cinemagraphs before, this part is crucial. It’s best to show the model(s) what a cinemagraph is, explain how it is created, and then direct them from there.
Depending on the movement you wish to achieve in the cinemagraph, the tips you give to your subject may vary. If you want only the background in motion, and the model still – then that’s simple! You just need to hit record, capture the perfect pose, then have them leave the scene.
If you want motion on the model, then you’ll need to guide them. For example, if you want their hair to flow softly in the wind, then you’ll need them to stay as still as possible, posing, while you apply wind to the hair. Or if you want the model to blink, but everything else be motionless, then you’ll need them to keep their head and body as still as possible. Sometimes it even helps if they hold their breath!
You’ll often need lots of patience, and multiple video clips until you get the desired shot. Pay close attention to what you’re filming to ensure you’ve got the perfect shot before moving onto the next concept.
STEP 4: Use Cinemagraph Pro
If you’ve done all of the steps above, then this last one will be a breeze. Import your clip into Cinemagraph Pro and adjust the timeline to fit the motion you are showing in the cinemagraph. Then, using the paintbrush tool, mask away at the part of the photo you wish to have in motion. You can make finer adjustments to the mask by tweaking the opacity, hardness, and size of the paintbrush. Following that, you’ll need to set the loop to either bounce or repeat. Tada, you’re done! It’s as simple as that.
To take your cinemagraph to the next level, use the adjustment tools within Cinemagraph Pro, or even export your still image to touchup in Photoshop, and re-import it back on top.
Now get out there and start creating some eye-catching portrait cinemagraphs! Read this post for some portrait inspiration: 8 Inspiring Portrait Cinemagraphs.