The world has been entranced by photographs since their invention well over a century ago. When video came along, however, that was even better. Somewhere along the way, we have learned to love both still and moving images. Now, well into the 21st century, a team of artists is combining them in a fantastically unusual way.
Photographer Jamie Beck and her partner Kevin Burg, who has a background in video and motion graphics, take beautiful photographs and turn them into something that rests comfortably between photography and video.
Their creations are called cinemagraphs: still photos with small elements of movement. They retain all of the exquisite composure of still photographs but add a surprising bit of motion that is absolutely mesmerizing.
The effect can be just the tiniest bit creepy when you aren’t expecting it: the eyes of a model moving suddenly or a reflection whizzing by in a storefront window are disconcerting at first. However, these cinemagraphs are exceptionally beautiful once you move past the initial startle reflex.
According to Beck and Burg, their work is just a little more than photographs and a bit less than video. Many of the movements are so subtle that you don’t notice them at first. The bigger movements tend to look almost like video, but it is these subtle movements that make these photos so intriguing.
Creating this movement effect is a rather painstaking process, taking from several hours to an entire day to complete for each photograph. The finished photographs are GIFs, which many of us remember as those annoying animations from the early days of the Internet. Beck and Burg’s artistry, however, have taken GIFs from a distraction to an art form.
Photographer Jamie Beck says of her work: “There’s something magical about a still photograph – a captured moment in time – that can simultaneously exist outside the fraction of a second the shutter captures.”