Videogum monsters, YTMND artists, 4Chan users, the makers and users of the 3frames iPhone application, and the guys and gals that curate and visit this site know animated gifs are the best. For those times when actual text and emoticons simply can’t explain your feelings, thoughts, and/or beliefs in a funny, sometimes ironic, and often times retro kind of way, nothing works better than a series of images displayed on a continuous loop like a never ending flip book of awesome.
But animated gifs are really for kids. Moving images showing Google+ lay the smack down on Facebook like the two corporations are high school nemeses or revealing how a black cat ominously file its nails are the works of teens and post-college kids looking for cool and comedy in the world of online pop culture.
So what do grownups and/or artsy types do when they want to create an image with aspects of never ending motion? They create cinemagraphs.
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Cinemgraphs are animated gifs for adults. They’re pretty pictures with touches of continuous movement, the kind of images you’d expect someone so artistically inclined to create after looking at those moving pictures from Harry Potter and thinking, “Hey. I can do something like that, but for reals!”
I have no idea if Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck are fans of 4Chan or JK Rowling’s Wizarding World, but I’d like to think those were their muses when they created the soon-to-be-uber-popular cinemagraph phenomenon. The two New York City photographers seem to be the progenitors (or at least popularizers) of the medium. They add both subtle and explicit bits of motion into their fashion photography, NYC shots, and New York Times photo essays of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, sometimes combining upwards of 60 images into a single shot.
You should give their work a look. It’s fun, kinda kitschy, kinda beautiful, and occupies a clever corner at the intersection of photography, art, and video. We should all give Burg, Beck and the cinemagraph a big round of applause for bringing something into the world and onto the internet that’s fun and nice to look at and watch.