The Art of Cinema(graphs)

At some point in the past year you’ve likely scrolled through your Instagram feed  and been struck by a subtle and mesmerizing movement within a post. Not quite a photograph, not quite a video and somehow, still, not quite a GIF, these alluring visuals have stolen the attention of brands and social media fans alike.

Cinemagraphs, coined by lifestyle photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio, are true to their namesake in that they seamlessly combine elements of moving cinematic footage with static photographs. The result, when done right, is captivating. Brands are increasingly experimenting with the Cinemagraph format to visually tell product stories – specifically on Instagram and Facebook.

Raise a cup to sunroof weather! #RoaDDTrip #Cinemagraph

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on

The subtle movements, enhanced by a frozen surrounding, attracts a deeper level of focus, often encouraging social users to linger so that their eyes can make sense of what’s happening in the image. This extra time spent focusing on one particular post, elicits a stronger connection to what is happening in the image. Furthermore, as cinemagraphs are artful expressions of story, they often shine a new perspective on a product. For example, a clear shot of a latte  is pleasant enough, but a moving image of steam rising from a latte’s froth against a stark background is spellbinding; this small movement evokes a sense of life in the image that is rarely associated with still product shots. Cinemagraphs aren’t just visually pleasing; according to AdAge, cinemagraphs generate 71% more engagement than stagnant photos. 


The success of a cinemagraph lies in the execution. The practice cannot just be adapted to fit every image and campaign story. If the movement is too jarring, abrupt or all-encompassing, the cinemagraph effect will fade. Instead, social users will be distracted by how the movement does not quite fit the story. If you’re interested in experimenting with cinemagraphs for your own feeds, follow this list of tips from Flixel to simply and effectively add cinemagraphs into your social content. 


*Featured cinemagraph from

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