3 Tricks for Making Your Photos Look More Cinematic

Making your images more eye-catching and appealing is almost always a worthwhile goal, but how can you achieve that? One way is to take pointers from cinema where such metrics are crucial to the success of a picture.

I have written a number of times on cinematic photography — particularly in street photography — and while it has a cult following, with me deeply embedded in that pack, it also receives a lot of animosity. It seems that many photographers do not like the term "cinematic" for various reasons. Perhaps it's too vague, perhaps it's overused; whatever the reason, I'll unpack why I like the term so much.

Cinema has prided itself on color theory, composition, themes, and keeping the viewer engaged, among many other things. While not everything translates from cinema to photography, much does, particularly when it comes to the theory side. In any decent cinematic production, there is a team of people working on different roles to ensure that the post-production, colors, lighting, and so on, are perfect for their intent. We, as photographer, can certainly take cues from this sort of scrutiny, and to me, if a photograph looks like a still from a high-end piece of cinema, I think it has been successful.

Here are three tricks from a street photographer on how to get your images to look more cinematic.

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4 Comments

Mike Ditz's picture

" In any decent cinematic production, there is a team of people working on different roles to ensure that the post-production, colors, lighting, and so on, are perfect for their intent."

Pretty much the same thing on any commercial shoot...

Marc F's picture

4th trick (that Robert uses in it’s video):
Rounded corners and imperfect borders that simulate an imperfect projector film gate.

We can also add the right and left borders part of the film with the perforations and why not also some vertical scratches…
But strange that instead of cinematic photography the video is made like a photographic cinematography with (not at scale) 24x36 Portra 160 film borders…

Pepe pérez's picture

Thanks for tips!!

giorgos karampotakis's picture

If it is rubbish it will be named cinematic rubbish after that .