Animated GIF Wedding Photography is a Thing and It's Beautiful

Animated GIF Wedding Photography is a Thing and It's Beautiful

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 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." 


To see more of his work, check out his website for his stills and his Tumblr account for more GIF awesomeness.

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Josiah Moore's picture

These are SO stupid awesome it hurts! Absolutely incredible!

hen lindenhoff's picture

This is truly scary!

Jennifer Kelley's picture

These are fantastic! Typically moving pictures tend to not be great as stand alone, they rely on the animation to make the picture. For the most part, these are great stand alones and the animation pushes them over to awesome.

This got me though: "She came expected a wedding covered with hundreds of GIFs and was disappointed to learn the printed wedding album didn't animate." I face palmed. No, this isn't Harry Potter, printed photos don't move lol.

Martin Valdes's picture

A little bit creepy at first but I can see the appeal.

Michael Chee's picture

WoW.... and again wow....

Matthew Taggart's picture

These are way cool! I do get the feeling that in the next 20 years the photos in our homes will be more like this. Kinda like Harry Potter. . . Ha ha.

Lee Morris's picture

Why don't we have a high quality gif replacement yet?

Brian Adriano's picture

There was one called APNG (Animated PNG) but it never took off. It had very limited support on browsers. Though the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox support them. Not a good example but here's one:

Plus it can also do 24bit animation, instead of being limited to 8bit (256 colors).

Lukas Renlund's picture

We do. It's called My friends have been hard at work, developing it for well over a year now and it's getting very good.

Dan Cavallari's picture

I really really don't like these. They strike me as tacky. Maybe I'm being hyper critical, but it just looks like a gimmick.

Dudley Didereaux's picture

An awful lot of work to produce something of questionable value.

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

you some how make it a tangible thing people can have.. (like a LCD screen that very thin and plays them at a slow speed) it will pick up... if not, it will die off.

T S's picture

These are so wrong...especially the fountain one.

Garrett Reid's picture

NOT a fan at all!

Austin Burke's picture

I've been playing around either cinematic animated gifs but never actually thought of putting it into a service like this.

Karma Wilson's picture

We are actually looking into incorporating these into wedding/anniversary and website promo materials. It's a very cool technology. As an aside, you can see cinemagraphs like these in the intro for the show Rectify (which is actually worth watching if you are into crime/psychological drama). One of the examples from the show intro is a star holding a cigarette, and the smoke is animated. Super cool process. One of the wedding photographers in Detroit has made some amazing cinemagraphs. It's timely you posted this, as I just heard about this two weeks ago and was looking for more info. :)

Edited to add: DUH, this is the same photographer I found. It was pure chance as I came across his info simply looking up Detroit wedding and event photographers. LOL

Also, my phone came with a cinemegraph app built in, which I hadn't ever used because I didn't know what the hell it was. I may play around with it now, though don't expect the results that come with dedicated editing. :)

Russell Bradley's picture

Amazing, these are simply wonderful :)

Anonymous's picture

Hmmm seems very gimmicky. Just don't think GIF works well enough to convey the elegance needed for wedding photography.

Tijmen Dal's picture

While I think it's a really cool concept, they're done quite poorly (or are they just 'lesser' versions for fstoppers?) and I think they're really tacky, but to each his own.

Maarten de Boer's picture

Number 14 (third last) scares the hell out of me. I do a lot of bursts and often have such tiny gifs myself but never cared to put time and effort in to making it into a gif worth sharing. Seeing this I might have a go some time, probably shooting them on purpose works best though.

"Also, how does one print a gif?" (just kidding).

Kristjan Järv's picture

Making an image like this work and look good is very difficult, you shouldn't be able to see the looping, that it's a well done image.

Luis Luna's picture

it´s been going on for a while i remember somethin about a fasion photographer who makes some thing really cute ammmmmmm....
yeha here she is

Chris Lee's picture

You can print animated gifs. Places like will print your animated gifs using lenticular printing.

Christian Berens's picture

I like it! Sort of like America's Next top model did a few years ago

Sara Smoot's picture

Amazing... I love it.

Jimmy Vann's picture

This is awesome. Great idea.

Humberto Benavides's picture

How can I do in PS CS6 to animate just one area of the pictures ? anyone ?

Jan Joseph George's picture

Just too Good!!!!!!