Loop Portraits:
Romain Laurent Reveals His Tricks

When we see a photo that just makes us say, “How in the world?!” we just have to stop talking out loud to our computer screen, hunt down the genius behind said stunner and ask them…

“How in the world?!”

Turns out it’s Romain Laurent who crafts the mind bending, perfectly looped portraits that had us agog.

So, we tracked him down and bombarded him with “hows,” “whys” and “you’re so cools.”

Check out his answers and see more of his loop portraits over on our blog.

Romain Laurent Reveals The Tricks to His Trade

Who is Romain?

Romain Laurent was raised in the French alps (Ooh la la!) and now lives and works in NYC (Hey, I’m walkin’ here!) as a profesh photographer.

He’s made a lot of cool stuff for some big name companies and still finds time for personal projects, like the mind blowing Loop Portrait Series.

He even found the time to answer a few questions about his process and inspirations for his adoring fans (that’s us! and soon enough you too).

Origin Story

Q: How did you come up with the concept/idea behind loop portraits?

A: It started with the need to find the creative energy I had in school again. Back then I would just imagine ideas and do them right away without caring, I was experimenting.

As I started working I continued experimenting but in a wider time frame. My personal photo series were taking several weeks to produce from start to finish.

With this project I imposed discipline on myself, one week, one portrait and do it fast. Whatever comes to mind goes, I dont worry about the final image and just go with the flow. The moving image medium or “cinemagraph” is perfect because I can experiment with new boundaries in photography and motion. 

Love at first sight

Q: When you made your first loop portrait did you know you’d want to make so many more?

A: I knew I wanted to do more, although I wasn’t sure I would keep up with it. That’s why I came up with the weekly deadline, to force myself to do it.

The big reveal

Q: How many photos do you shoot to get one completed loop portrait?

A: A lot of people think it’s photos shot in a row, it is not. I film a scene and then freeze a frame that appeals to me

How in the world?

Q: Can you describe a loop portrait shoot in 5 steps? Give us an idea what happens start to finish.

A: 1. Idea
2. Finding somebody to portray
3. Shoot. I film a motion I think will look good looped, usually 3 to 5 takes
4. Post production – I isolate a frame to be the static part of the portrait, then mask the part I want to see move and loop
5. Posting on tumblr right away- As soon as I post it online, it allows me to move on to the next one and not dwell on it too much even if it is not perfect.

Planning ahead

Q: How much of the final product have you envisioned/planned out before you head out on a shoot?

A: I have a general idea, it is usually pretty close to what I imagine, though sometimes it’s quite far from that and pleasantly surprising.

I like the little mistakes, it brings me to places I didn’t think about.

Model Friendships

Q: Who do you get to pose for your photos friends? strangers? models? 

A: Mostly friends, sometimes strangers in my neighborhood.

Why Loops?

Q: You’ve done a lot of amazing professional work for big companies. What is it about loop portraits that has you making one every single week just for funsies?

A: I really enjoy working on my personal ideas, be it on this series or other photo series.

With this one specifically, it’s refreshing and some sort of break from the long process of working on a commercial or the careful planning and producing one of my personal series.

Loops give me an area of experimentation in the “cinemagraph” medium and allows me to just do. Just do the ideas that comes to my mind with no second guessing.

Phoneography

Q: We see you’re on Instagram. Do you have any favorite photo apps or phone tips? 

A: I only use the camera in my iPhone for the photos I post on Instagram, I also import the video files of the loop portraits.

I dont use filters and any other photo apps, I try to keep it simple.

Inspiration

Q: Where, who or what inspires your photography?

A: It’s a wide range of interests – from comic books to movies to general art. I’ll throw in several names, but that won’t even come close to all of them: Sempé, Gary Larson, Don Rosa, Wu Yue, Philip Lorca Di Corcia, Michel Gondry, Quentin Dupieux, Spike Jonzes, Charlie Kauffman, Bill Waterson, Franquin…

And obviously my surroundings, friends, beers and whatnot :)

Q: Who are your top 3 favorite photographers?

A: Sally Mann, Robert Mapplethorpe, Edward Weston.