Cinemagraphs, simply described are photos that move. Also described a something more than a still photo but less than a video. Essentially, they are animated gifs but with a simple movement or appearance of movement using the gif technology, the images are transformed into a much more dynamic form and literally, bring the images to life.
While its not entirely a brand new concept or recent invention, two photographers, Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg are credited for their emergence and sudden popularity.
Beck explained the process of making and editing these cinemagraphs in an interview with The Atlantic:
“We began seriously creating them during fashion week this past February. Our first few animated images were sequenced still shots looped in rapid succession which is a fairly common way of making an animated image. From there we began utilizing more fluid motion isolated in certain parts of an image to capture a moment of time, but also to un-freeze a still photograph by showing that moment’s temporal movement. The process involves still and video photography but editing is very manual and varies greatly from one to another so we’re routinely solving new problems when creating them.
We feel there are many exciting applications for this type of moving images. There’s movement in everything and by capturing that plus the great things about a still photograph you get to experience what a video has to offer without the time commitment a video requires. There’s something magical about a still photograph — a captured moment in time — that can simultaneously exist outside the fraction of a second the shutter captures.
To put it in less “artspeak” form: Our Cinemagraphs are a way of adding motion to a still image. On average, the more intricate ones take a day to edit and the simpler ones take 3-4 hours. It’s something we’d been experimenting with for about a year but it really came together during fashion week with the post “Les Tendrils” and culminated with “Anna Sees Everything” which touches on the “ultimate portrait” — an image that captures the essence of a person through an action or a scene they are closely associated with.”
See more of their work here:
We've put together some links if you're interested in learning how to create your own cinemagraphs:
Photojojo's Guide on How to Make Cinemagraphs
Fernando J Baez has also put together a tutorial here.
Christopher Mathew Burt also has an excellent tutorial and how-to article here.