What happens when you take a technology from the early 90's and use it in your photography business in 2014? Just ask Jeffrey Bennett, a professional wedding photographer based in Detroit who in 2011 decided to start producing GIF animations for each one of his engagement sessions and wedding nights, which resulted in many happy clients, a lot of interest from potential clients and of course beautiful results he can then share online.
As you you probably know, GIF animations died sometime in the late 90's but have made a huge comeback in recent years. Most modern uses of the old file type are for memes and funny short clips- especially to express emotions online. These clips are taking over the internet and can be seen everywhere, from social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr to news sites and blogs such as Huffpost and Buzzfeed (and especially the Gawker Media sites). Jeffrey loved the idea of memes, but wanted to see if he could combine it with his professional work.
"I had loved GIFs & silly internet meme's for a long time but had not considered creating," he said. "In early 2011 a groom I was photographing asked if the burst of shots I just took could be a GIF. He was really into meme's too. I still have clients that could not care less about GIFs but most are quite ecstatic over them.
"I really think cinemagraphs are going to take off once we all have something like http://www.electricobjects.com/ hanging on our walls."
He admits that this is still more of a fun side service he provides to his clients. For him it's more about providing the cool experiance and getting some attention from potential clients. "I try to make one or two happen in every session I do, always at no additional charge. In the last year more of my couples are specifically asking for me to create GIFs for them. My GIFs sure are getting a ton of buzz lately, and more eyes on product is always a good thing. I had a successful (full time) photography business before the GIFs, but I'm booking up solid, much further in advance, and charging more now. I can't credit that all to the gifs though, as I feel my still images have improved ten fold in the last 5 years and remain the main client draw. I LOVE LOVE LOVE making these things, I'd still be making them even if none of my clients cared about them"
As of how he produces the GIFs, he told me, "No video is shot, I use the High burst mode on Canon's 5D3 and take stills. I like the ability to control the look with slower shutter speeds too. Also, I just really love the choppy stop-motion look. I got a little into creating lego and clay stop-motion movies as a kid. The GIFs are later assembled in Photoshop. I then make a mask on a top layer to control where I want to eliminate movement both for the feel of a photograph and to lower output file size. "
"I've not done an ALL GIF session yet, but I've had a bride & groom express interest in doing one for them in the future. Last fall I did meet with a bride who had only seen my GIFs and thought that's all I did. She came expected a wedding covered with hundreds of GIFs and was disappointed to learn the printed wedding album didn't animate."