This Guy Turned Making Weird GIFs Into a Lucrative Job
Last time we chatted with Romain Laurent, he was well into his ambitious project One Loop Portrait a Week. Armed with a camera and a sense of humor, Laurent made mesmerizing GIFs of friends. Two years later, he’s still at it—and now he’s getting paid for them.
The photographer’s GIFs provided a break from his commercial work, but caught the eye of clients ranging from Starbucks to L’Oreal. His first big GIF gig was shooting for Hermès. Though doing commercial work, everyone embraced his signature quirkiness. “There was a great deal of respect of my artistic point of view,” he says.
That POV comes through loud and clear. His Starbucks campaign features levitating Frappuccinos spinning circles around the subject. An image from the L’Oréal fashion show features a model forever being doused with hairspray.
His process hasn’t changed much. Laurent films the scene with a Canon 5D Mark III. Later, he picks a still image from the video and carefully layers animated elements over it in After Effects. After making sure everything lines up and moves seamlessly, Laurent brings the piece into Photoshop for a bit of color correction. He’s refined his technique over the years and is a lot faster. “I don’t have a general guideline for how I do things, but know I know my style,” he says.
Laurent keeps busy, splitting his time between print work, GIFs, and directing. He wants excel in every medium and “do everything to the fullest.” Unfortunately, this means the loop project has fallen by the wayside. Laurent isn’t worried though. Forcing himself to post a GIF a week turned a creative outlet into a chore. For a while, he felt like he was in a rut with no good ideas. Posting sporadically lets him be more creative and spontaneous. “It’s really random,” he says. “I let my mind go wild.”
For example, Laurent made his most recent GIF (his 56th!), showing an umbrella opening and closing, during a break on a commercial shoot. It was raining, so he asked an assistant to toss his umbrella a few times. They shot for an hour, then Laurent put it through Photoshop and After Effects and posted it to Tumblr and Instagram.
Social media has played a big part in Laurent’s GIFs gaining popularity. With 40,000 followers on Tumblr and 4,600 on Instagram, he finds the feedback nice but not entirely necessary. He simply wants to focus on creativity and bringing a little much needed comic relief to the world. “I’m having fun and smiling while I do them, and if people smile when they see them, I think that’s perfect,” he says.