Cinemagraph Inspiration


What Inspires You?
Stephen King famously said: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work”.

This quote can easily feel like a weight around your neck when you don’t feel inspired, but I think it was meant to focus on the fact that inspiration is nothing without hard work, and hard work sometimes needs to happen without necessarily having inspiration. This is something I think we all need to address at one point or another in our careers/hobbies.
So I’m curious - how are you mostly inspired?

When I first started out, I fell in love with cinemagraphs and quickly became a bit of a ‘duck-hunter’ - shooting anything that moves to try make cinemagraphs out of.
You know how it is - you’re walking around a city and you see flags, fountains, newspapers, reflections, etc. and you just shoot them, because your vision for the work is quite narrow and you desperately try to catch anything that moves.
This type of shooting also often goes without planning, and you might end up frustrated that the lighting isn’t great or the time of day didn’t work, and it might easily just feel ‘average’.
So looking to people who really plan their shoots is a great place to start - like some instagram photographers. I know a time-lapse photographer here in London who plans his shoots like crazy, using sunrise apps and weather apps. But then he also runs out of luck often and would shoot the same thing 2/3 days in a row until he’s happy. Alexandre @ixhumni is another one… the amount of planning and light/weather/location knowledge he throws into his work is insane, and learning from these guys what can make a boring landscape or city shot turn to magic is really invaluable.

But soon after my walkie-shootie type work, I started getting inspiration from other people… I’d either see something in photography and try to put my own cinemagraph spin on it (which I still do sometimes today), and whisky was my focus at the start. I’d try to learn how to shoot whisky bottles properly and have a glass with a bit of a swirl running, and experimented with this for quite some time before I got a bit bored. That even landed me my first unofficial client, where I scored a bottle and branded glass in exchange for some cinemagraphs, which was a great way to get going.
Lea Saban (@leamotion on Instagram) has done similar things with Joby Inc. where she did some promo shots for them for freebies at the start, and it opened up some really good avenues for her work. So finding something and getting your teeth into it, especially if you can do some form of early brand partnership, is a great way to learn and to get some client experience.
But moving on…

I’d also start seeing work by other cinemagraph artists and try to emulate similar projects to try and see if I could pull it off. I think this is an important phase as you learn, and some people get worked up about the difference between emulating and copying - which is a whole new thread worth of discussion. But when you start out, emulating someone that inspires you will quickly show you the areas you need to learn in, whether it be lighting, set layout, editing, looping, colour grading, etc. Important that you can emulate someone and not look like you’re copying or ripping off their ideas, by giving them credit, having a conversation, etc.
The important thing is to then move on and continue growing, so that you don’t stay stuck in the emulation phase, but you start developing your own style.

So over time I started developing some of my own techniques and ideas, but I’d continuously run out of ideas and continuously experiment with new ideas to try and push myself further, see what resonated with people, see if anything got interest for work, and just keep on growing in my work. I’ve found it immensely important to keep on trying and keep on growing - sometimes you might not feel like you have real inspiration, but you could be your own inspiration for a while too, as long as you just keep on trying. Keep on perfecting your lighting or the setup, or the complexity, or colour grading (this is a very important but often missed aspect) and try to borrow techniques from photographers, etc.
It’s worth saying, probably, that I likely have more unpublished cinemagraph work than I have published. That’s likely less than 40% hit rate with work I’ve been happy with, and the rest are either from over shooting, or experimenting with ideas that didn’t work. So it’s important not to undervalue the role hard work plays.

But in my work I rarely looked outside of the world of photography and cinemagraphs to find my inspiration. Until recently. Last year I saw a painting, which gave me a moment’s inspiration and started a whole new chapter in my cinemagraph work.
From trying to turn the painting into a real, cinemagraph version, I started getting a whole bunch of ideas for a personal project that I’m now developing in my spare time, which could be really awesome to see materialise (after putting in a TON of work). But it’s really opened up my mind in terms of where you can get ideas from.
Strangely, it’s also plunged me into the world of comics… I last read comics as a teenager, but I’m now finding some interesting inspiration from there for my personal project.

Professionally, I think it’s invaluable to push yourself through different stages and phases, because when a client does come to you and hands you a brief, you’ll have a whole toolbox full of ideas and experiments that you can rely on, and you just might find that the brief connects with this random experiment you did last year, and it turns out great.

So… apologies for the long post, but I’d be curious where other people get their inspiration from and how they grow in their work.


Great post!

For me, I was usually inspired by the landscape around me. I am normally out and about for different projects and for clients, I find myself thinking more about different “challenges” and if I can actually achieve them.

I see work like yours, @ixhumni, and Lea’s as well. It gives me an idea to work on in between projects. Sometimes it works and sometimes it fails miserably. It is just fun during the whole process.

The other thing that inspires me is the weather and seasons. Recently, it was cherry blossom season in Korea. Thus, I was trying to get some unique cinemagraphs during that very short season. It was a challenge and didn’t really work out in some cases but it was a fun time.

Now, it is really pouring rain and I am already thinking about some ideas for rain. Once I have this idea, I will usually search the Flixel galleries and see what’s there. This further refines my idea and even gives me some more inspiration.


Agree with @JasonTeale Great Post
Thanks for mentioning too Mario @CinePix :wink:
Sometimes the inspiration can be preparation, thinking ahead about the place, checking the weather, using different apps for conceive the plan of the shoot…but other times just going with the flow to some place, and if the landscape light is that great then it’s perfect to see it ahead how it will result…somehow the way of seeing and focus on the natural beauty of sometimes the little details and others the general composition…it’s an :eye: connected to the heart that resonates with what is around us, that, to me is the first step of getting inspired, first Seeing by Feeling, and afterwards comes the technical part of the lens,camera, Filters and settings to register that feeling of Oneness with what is in front at Life’s Stage…and sometimes we see the potential of the location, but the time, and the light are not the best ones, and we made a commitment of coming back again to see if that time all fits into place…knowing when to leave and having the patience to return again, it can be truly rewarding…even that we think that we already made a good shoot there…some landscapes are Eternal and we can always come back and found something new…if we See it with new eyes…

Good Work and Inspiration to all


Something more about inspiration…the Quality of the Light is something that really inspires me…usually with natural light the best moments are at sunset and sunrise, golden hour and blue hours and the subtle transitions between them…if i had to choose one moment would be the sunrises, usually in the blue hours, around 30min before sunrise, these moments can shine a light that really blast the senses, and sometimes the peak just last a few seconds, if you learn to see the progression of the light, and the feeling when you know that you are observing the peak, its an amazing feeling of gratitude for watching so much beauty and perfection, the close to eternal as it can be…that is something that really inspires me to go out at night for the spot, checking the location, the weather, skyfires, moon tables, and so on in advance…:wink:


@ixhumni these are amazing. The colours especially are wonderful.


Thanks @JasonTeale when the natural light was at is peak…is similar when a flower blossoms…making us wonder with such majestic natural beauty…and somehow…we are limited by the small reflection that we can “grab or hold” with our tools…nothing like the real experience…which bump memories from the moments already lived, but somehow reborn when we see and remember… warm regards and grab those moments…:wink:


Great thread, Mario! I became interested in photography and videography as a hobby after my son was born. Having a family made me realize how quickly life moves along and how important it is to capture all these precious moments. A little over a year ago I discovered cinemagraphs, which changed everything. I saw a beautiful family moment captured by @mrjonkane and was blown away. I wanted to capture living moments of my family just like that! In fact, most of my cinemagraphs are of my family, but most are kept locked away in a special living photo album that continues to grow on our family computer. I soon started to see the world around me differently and began capturing other moments I wanted to remember or share with others. Simple moments like walking through winter leaves, reading a book under a cherry blossom tree or collecting acorns are just a few examples of what I like to capture. It really is amazing how adding subtle movement to a still can bring you closer to feeling like you’re really there. Very powerful. Japan is also a huge inspiration. In particular, Japanese poetry has been very inspiring. For me, a cinemagraph is like a haiku, which is a very short form of Japanese poetry (17 syllables or less in English). Like a traditional haiku, its sole purpose is to share a moment through creativity and brevity while still encompassing a great deal of depth. In this sense, cinemagraphs are visual haikus.


Hey that’s so cool Renaud, I never realised I played a part in your discovery of cinemagraphs… the way you’re capturing those little moments is so perfect. I absolutely love that comparison to a haiku, so true :wink: