Here at HuffPost Weddings, we're all about celebrating unique and innovative ideas in the wedding world. In this series, Wedding Trailblazers, we'll be spotlighting wedding-industry professionals doing creative new things. Check out our latest trailblazer below.
The best wedding photographers are trained, ceremony after ceremony, to capture those perfect moments in time: the groom's face when he first sees his bride; father and daughter dancing cheek-to-cheek.
Jeffrey Lewis Bennett, the owner of JLB Wedding in Clawson, Mich., is there, cameras in hand, to record the essential memories. But his unique wedding GIFs are a creative way to give eternal life to those fleeting hours of Big Day bliss.
"The way that wedding GIFs work, they look more like a photograph that happens to be telling a story inside of it," he told The Huffington Post.
Bennett, who is married with two small children, said it was a gamble to leave his full-time graphic design job three years ago to concentrate on weddings and engagements.
"For the photography business to make me happy, I wanted to fulfill my own artistic need more than I was -- and if I could find a way to do that and pay all the bills, then great," he said. "But I wasn't 100 percent sure it would work."
Bennet's GIFs, which are created solely from images, not video, require hours of digital manipulation after he's done holding the camera. He made his first GIF after shooting several quick images of a bride and groom practicing their first dance. All the while, he and the groom were joking about internet culture and their favorite memes. The groom suggested that he upload those images together to make a wedding GIF.
"It was actually pretty bad," Bennett admitted. "I went back and found it today, and it does not look good, compared to the stuff I've done since."
Clearly, his skills have improved. Who wouldn't want one of these captivating keepsakes?
Scroll down for more animated and still photographs by Jeffrey Lewis Bennett and to learn more about his creative process. See more of his work at his website.
"My mother's father was an electrical engineer, and he taught me how to use a 35mm camera. I remember him explaining to me how light creates an image on film and what you can accomplish by controlling that light; whether it's aperture or shutter speed or film speed."
"There isn't always a GIF that comes from every wedding. The majority of them, I have the idea before I take the picture. It's often something I thought of before the wedding even came, and then tried to find a way to make that happen."
"Other GIFs, we just happen to be walking around the corner of a building, and the wind is blowing, and there's an interesting wall. So I have the bride and groom stand there, and I set up my tripod, and I take a photo of the wind blowing the bride's dress and her hair and the jacket of the groom ... and there it is."
"I love to capture somebody's imagination and make them want to work with me."
"It wasn't enough for me anymore to just make sure the exposure was right and what was supposed to be in focus was in focus. That wasn't satisfying enough to me."
"I really didn't know how many people in this area would see the weirder work and think it was cool and something they wanted to preserve their wedding with."
"I have to focus on everything about the day, I can't exactly focus on my own ideas, even though that's what feeds me creatively in this job. It's still a small portion of the whole. They might have me for eight hours, but only one of those hours, do I have the bride and groom alone, to be really creative."
"What you see now, I'm very proud of. ... I was hoping that enough people out there found my work, felt the same way, hired me, so I'd be able to feed my family and buy health insurance and stuff. It's worked out very well."
"I've gotten to meet incredibly creative people. Some of them have their own ideas, but most of them don't. They just want me to run with it, and they're looking for me to art-direct the day and have ideas and lead them. They really are."
"I'm not afraid of my clients' ideas, at all. If they've got them, I want to hear them, but the majority of my clients believe in setting an artist loose and are excited to see what can come out of that."
"You may have 200 different photographers all over the world that make up your Pinterest board, but it's not realistic to hope you can find one local creative who can take your Pinterest board and make all those things happen to you. I'm looking to work with people who wanted me to do the thing that I do. Hearing your clients wishes and dreams and playing off their own ideas -- that's true collaboration."
"That shot didn't enter my head at all when I was taking the pictures. Weeks later, when I was editing the pictures, I saw the potential for a GIF. ... That moment, that couple's first dance ... everyone at that reception was watching them dance. Every eye was on them."
"They're standing in Lake Michigan. It was a really organic moment that I hadn't decided would be a GIF until it was happening. Of all the moments throughout the engagement session, that was THE KISS. When they kissed and that moment happened, I saw it through the viewfinder and changed my settings so I could take pictures quicker, and they were still kissing. I just tried to be as still as possible."