This holiday season I decided to create two fashion cinemagraph holiday cards to share with my friends and colleagues on social media. I love the results, so why don’t you join me behind the scenes to see How I Got the Shot!

Overall Concept

Cinemagraphs are moving images where most of the frame is still, but part of the image is moving to bring the shot to life. The movement and image are played endlessly on a loop. I love how they grab your attention and I’ve been implementing them more and more into my business for promotions and a wide range of clients.

For my holiday cards, I decided to shoot two cinemagraph concepts for something beautiful to end the year.

When creating a cinemagraph, you must first decide what will be still in each frame and what elements will move.

For Concept #1 I decided to have some festive lights blink in the frame. For my second concept, I would make it appear as if it were snowing in my scene.

Let’s take a look at bringing these concepts to life.

Team

A creative team helps me bring my vision to life. Stylist Lisa Smith Craig provided me with the beautiful dress and accessories for my concepts. Johnny Gonzalez provided me with the glamorous hair and makeup on my striking model model Alexandra from Major Model Management.

Wardrobe credits: Red dress – Alex Vinash. Cuff – Laurel DeWitt Ring -4SFinds

Concept #1

Let’s dive into the first concept.

For my first cinemagraph christmas card, I wanted to have some sort of christmas lights blinking in the frame, but I really didn’t want to do something expected. No blinking christmas tree or lights twinkling in the background. Instead, I decided for something a little more epic.

I reached out to my friend and designer Lory Sun, and let her know roughly the idea I was thinking. Instantly the wheels in her head started turning, and she decided to create me a custom-made headpiece just for the shoot. This stunning gold headpiece covered in jewels contained a small switch that allowed us to turn the lights in the headpiece on and off.

It’s so regal, and so queen-like that I needed a strong model who could command the scene — and I was able to work with major models to cast the right girl.

As a fashion photographer and artist, I have always been attracted to the color red. Furthermore, it’s a holiday card, so I decided to utilize a red dress and red background for this epic scene.

For this shot I would shoot on a tripod, and capture the scene using 4K video. I had my assistant sit behind the model and turn the light on and off. This gave me the movement I would need.

Next, I captured some still frames with the model holding in the same pose. If I want to, I have the ability to simply grab a still frame from the 4K video and work with that, but shooting a still gives me more detail and flexibility to work with the file during retouching.

After finding the perfect pose and asking the model to hold perfectly still, I capture 5-10 seconds of footage that would be perfect for the cinemagraph.

Concept #2

For the second concept, I wanted to have my model sitting in the same beautiful red environment, but have it look like it was snowing in the studio. Of course I could get a big snow machine and try to loop the video and snow, but instead I decided to capture a still and then animate the snow.

To make the snow scene to look realistic, there needed to be pieces of snow on her hair, arms and dress. Of course real snow would melt and the fake snow we ordered didn’t arrive in time, so we found the solution of cutting up tiny pieces of tissues. When placed on the model would give the appearance of snow.

I shot many different frames, but did not need to capture video for this image, since the snow would be added using Adobe Stock footage after the fact.

 

Lighting

When shooting with cinemagraphs, you need to use constant lighting, you can’t have strobes firing if you are shooting video and capturing movement. For these cinemagraphs I used the modeling lights on my Profoto D1 Airs. Although they are strobes, I used the variable power of the modeling lights to allow me to illuminate my subject and to let me use the modifiers I’m already familiar with. This won’t work if you have a lot of daylight or other color temperatures in your scene, so I closed the curtains to reduce the window light.

I used a 5 degree grid on the face, to give a bit of pop and extra illumination and a beauty dish with grid on the face as well to fill in the shadows and improve the quality of light on the model’s face. Next I used a 20 degree grid on the background to give a bit of glow and separation between the dark red of the subject and the dark red background. Finally, I used another beauty dish and grid as a rim on the right, for a beautiful and subtle highlight on the hair, arm and shoulders. 4 lights may seem like a lot, but each had their purpose.

Gear

For both of these shots, I used the Canon 5D IV because of its ability to capture video at 4K resolution, giving me tons of detail to work with and more than 30 megapixels for my still frames.

I used the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens and the Canon 24-105mm, giving me a wide range of focal lengths to choose from. I shot on a Manfrotto tripod, particularly essential when capturing motion.

Post Processing

I’ve got my shots, but now its time to bring it all together.

In the cinemagraph with the headpiece, I combined my still frame and the 4K video in Adobe Photoshop CC to allow me to control toning, retouching and to line up my frames. I did my final masking and looping in Flixel’s Cinemagraph Pro, where I could share high resolution cineamgraphs on my social channels or on their platform.

For the snowy holiday card, I downloaded a high res video file of stock footage of snow falling from Adobe Stock. With a black background, it was easy for me to change blend modes and add this to my image in Adobe Photoshop CC. The bits of tissue snow in the frame combined with the stock animated snow created the winter scene I had envisioned.

To 2017 and beyond!

For the New Year I hope to create even more cinemagraphs and push my creativity, and this was a great way to get myself started before the year even begins! Happy Holidays everyone! Wishing you all the very best and an exquisitely successful and rewarding New Year!

I hope you enjoyed seeing How I Got the Shot!

P.S.

If you are interested in learning about how to create cinemagraphs, I’ve got a FREE tutorial that takes you step by step through the process which you can check out here. I’ll be creating cinemagraphs LIVE at Imaging USA at the Canon main stage Monday Jan 9th at 2:30pm. If you are attending the trade show you can check it out FREE!