Romain Laurent spends his day similar to millions of nerds on Reddit. Trolling the web, finding memes, and making GIFS.
The only difference is that Laurent turned his GIF-making hobby into a full-time gig. Laurent’s job is making mesmerizing GIFs for big brands like Starbucks, L’Oreal, and Hermès.
Before he became a professional GIF maker, Laurent was a photographer for an ad agency. However, after moving from France to New York and landing a few photography gigs, Laurent said that he needed some spontaneity in his life. That’s when he launched One Loop Portrait a Week.
“Early in my photography days, it was just about taking a photo, and by the evening I had it done and it was online,” he told Wired. “So my idea with this project was to try to find that spark again, the kind of creative rhythm or energy that you have when you’re younger.”
After two years of working on One Loop Portrait a Week as a side hobby, big brands are starting to hire Laurent to create GIFs for them.
“There was a great deal of respect of my artistic point of view,” he said about the brands hiring him.
So how does he make such amazing GIFs?
When he first started, Laurent used an app called Cinemagram to take photos of his friends. He’d then tinker with the film sequence and add filters. The process has evolved since then.
Laurent now films scenes with a Canon 5d Mark III. Next, he picks still images from the video and layers animated effects over the images using After Effects. After that he lines up the images and makes sure that they flow seamlessly as a GIF, then uses Photoshop to touch up the color. Like every great artist, though, Laurent’s technique is constantly evolving.
“I don’t have a general guideline for how I do things, but I know my style,” he told Wired.
So how can you copy Laurent and become a professional GIF maker? The first step is to get a social media following. Laurent’s following isn’t huge, but it was big enough to get the big brands to notice his work. He currently has 40,000 followers on Tumblr and 4,600 on Instagram.
“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.
Check out some of his recent client work. Pretty cool stuff.