Cinemagraphs — and working with constraints

I was happy for the rain, for once, as it made the scene.
A partially moving sea (Porto)
A friend I’ve made in Seattle, and the gorgeous Montreal ferris-wheel.
An impromptu snowfall and 2 people who stood relatively still.
As this took 3 attempts, I’ve waited a long time for a metro I never entered…
Mum & Téco by the fireplace.
An eternally pouring wine with flames. A tough one!
Reflections, on the streets of Kingston.
Sped up like this, it’s funnier than the original 😅
Also looking pretty ridiculous at this speed, but…!

What did I learn from making all these things?

A few things, in fact!

1. Art can be silly.

When photographing, I’m always looking for the perfect meaningful scene. So many shots don’t make the cut because they’re neither exceptionally beautiful, or exceptionally meaningful. Making these cinemagraphs has taken away some of the weight of conceptual perfectionism away.

2. Create more excuses for play

And I mean play, for the sake of play. Since you’re no longer looking for meaning or visual perfection, an idea as simple as a football rolling on a playground can be visually stimulating, if you get the right background in.

3. Working constraints are fun, again!

I re-learned how to love working with creative constraints. A blank page is quite often too daunting, and so is the idea of a whole city waiting to be perfectly photographed. Knowing you’ll have to plan with wherever you are; with a place you can physically place your camera for it to be super steady; and needing a scene which works in just 3/4 seconds, and your brain will be pumped thinking about the possibilities. Embracing constraints is a beautiful thing to learn how to achieve.

4. There’s SO much happening around us, right now

If you’re sitting at a coffee shop or a library, take a look around you. Who is moving in the foreground, and who could be steady in the background? Is there a fan in the ceiling you could play with? Maybe something moving outside the window that you can stop in time. There’s interesting movement everywhere — but we only notice it when we’re looking for it. Creating a cinemagraph forces you to be immersed into this mode.

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Ricardo Magalhães

Ricardo Magalhães

I work for the Internet. By day, a front-end web developer with a passion for typography and design. By night, I’m sleeping.