For the past 2 years, the humble animated GIF has soared to new artistic heights, receiving a classy makeover in the form of cinemagraphs.

Cinemagraphs are loosely defined as still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs. They’re neither a photo nor a video but technically are very classy-looking GIFs. The term itself was coined in 2011 by photographer duo Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who first perfected these elegant and subtle GIFs, and have now cornered the market in cinemagraphs.

No longer confined to tacky flashing banner ads and viral videos of public humiliation, they are now a powerful tool in photography and marketing. Here a few inspiring examples:


This one was on display in Tiffany & Co.‘s stores to celebrate their Rubedo metal collection, and was produced by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.


A beautiful way to enhance a micro moment in a photograph, by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.


This one captures the moody essence of Encounter, the new fragrance from Calvin Klein. This cinemagraph was used in an ad to drive traffic to Calvin Klein’s main site.


They can also be made from funny moments in movies! Here’s Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega dancing away forever, by IWDRM. Cool cinemegraphs of films are his speciality, check out his Tumblr!


This web ad for Coca Cola was wildly successful on Tumblr, receiving 35,000 likes and reblogs combined in the first 24 hours. Source:


I can almost taste these fresh tomatoes. This cinemagraph is featured on the produce webpage of Gilt Taste, an online magazine and market for food and wine lovers. This was also produced by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.


Sweet, ‘sizzlin bacon, by Vickan Flickan — if this was an ad for a food truck or a breakfast diner, it would have me running over there in no time.


Artist ABVH has reinterpreted Banksy’s famous street art in a cinemgraph. This is more in the gray area of what’s considered a cinemagraph because Banksy’s murals don’t actually move, however it’s still an animated element of a still photo.


Here’s nice subtle movement in a great photo, by Matthew Williams and the graphic artist QIL for
L’Officiel Hommes.


And more beauty from Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.


Here’s a cool hynotic photo by RRRRRRRROLL. Check out more of these on their Tumblr.

Make one of your own (we did!)

Cinemagraphs are becoming effective tools for marketing. It adds a dimension to attractive photography and is another way to hold any viewer’s gaze for just a little longer. They are also relatively easy to make! For example, I quickly whipped up the one below in Photoshop. All you need is a camera, a tripod, an interesting subject and Adobe Photoshop:


Here is a beautiful day at the Embarcadero Center near our SF office. The balloon moves but everything else is frozen in time.

I used this tutorial to make this cinemagraph and once I figured out the basics, I was able to create it in about 15 minutes. This was my first one and I was still able to create a cool effect — so I highly encourage anyone with basic Photoshop skills to try it!

Cinemagraphs would be a great present for family and friends, and would be great to add to your blog or portfolio website to emphasize your photography skills. For anyone who’s trying to advertise their talents, their services or a product they want to sell, they’re a proven, powerful marketing tool. They’re surely on their way to becoming a prolific and timeless form of media.

Have you seen any cool cinemagraphs lately?