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How to make a cinemagraph

In terms of what you can do with your images, cinemagraphs are the new kid on the block. 

If you haven’t seen one yet, make sure to check out the examples found over the following pages, or have a look on Instagram or Facebook where they are widely used. There's a debate whether these are moving images, videos or GIFs; I can definitely tell you that these are GIFs. 

The technique of creating these quirky but interesting shots requires the skills of both photographs and video to make them come to life. In this article I will go through how you can make a cinemagraph of your own that will no doubt confuse some people but wow others.

Definition: What is a cinemagraph?

So what is a cinemagraph? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a still image with some kind of moving element within it. Like this:

This is the cinemagraph I'll be showing you how to make on the following page.

Ideally, the moving part has motion that starts and ends at the same place, which means you can loop the GIF for as long as you like. 

For example, it could be a never-ending wisp of steam coming off a hot cup of coffee, or the flame of a candle flickering. 

The best thing to do for this technique is to keep things simple: don’t overcomplicate what you’re shooting as you’ll regret it when it comes to editing.


The great thing about creating cinemagraphs is that you don’t need the newest and fanciest camera. All you need is a camera that records video and a good tripod. 

You don't need any particular camera – just something that will stay absolutely still on a tripod

You don't need any particular camera – just something that will stay absolutely still on a tripod

Some of best cinemagraphs I’ve seen were created on an iPhone, and these were edited on the same smartphone using an app made by Flixel. I’ll go into this in more detail later on.

Capturing your subject

Once you’ve found something you would like to film and turn into a cinemagraph, set up your camera on a tripod and get your composition right.

I set up my shots just like any other video I would record, as this is what you now need to do. 

I record the motion for around 10-15 seconds, and if I can get a start point and end point during the shot that are exactly the same, this makes things easier for creating an endless loop later on.