Tips for shooting the perfect Boomerang

A Boomerang gif

A Boomerang gif (Image credit: iMore)

If you haven't heard of a Boomerang before, you've probably seen one at least once or twice across social media, or more specifically, Instagram.

It's not a photo. It's not a gif. It's a Boomerang. (Instagram)

Boomerang works by taking a super short, super fast burst of photos and stitching them together into a mini video that plays forward and backward and forward and backward and—well, you get the idea.

While this seems pretty straight forward, shooting a decent/semi-entertaining Boomerang can actually be a bit of a challenge. You want to include enough movement that it catches someone's eye as they scroll down their newsfeed, but not too much that things are a busy, obnoxious mess.

Luckily there are a couple of different tips and tricks you can keep in mind for shooting that Boomerang for your Insta Stories or your timeline respectively. Here's everything you need to know for shooting the perfect Boomerang!

Less is More (but more is more, too)

The beauty of a Boomerang is that it loops and repeats endlessly, making even the most menial tasks extremely entertaining to watch!

Some of the most exciting and interested Boomerangs that I've ever seen have been as simple as someone cutting a plain white piece of soft cheesecake, or dropping a brightly-colored bath bomb into their tub, or even snapping a simple selfie instead of taking a traditional picture:

it doesn't have to be complicated, it just needs to have a slight change that we can catch on screen!

In the same vein, sometimes having big, over-the-top Boomerangs of busy, noisy, loud subjects can also be extremely fun to watch (if they're done properly, of course). You can snap a Boomerang of a vast sky of fireworks going off at different times, people screaming, dancing, and moshing at a concert, or hundreds of ants as they scurry up and down their ant-hill:

It can be complicated, it just needs to be clear what we're seeing and your phone has to be steady.

A photo posted by on

Learn to layer

Something that can make a Boomerang a successful one is having different 'layers' AKA different things going on at different heights in your Boomerang. This can eliminate an otherwise boring Boomerang and give your audience an excuse to rewatch your masterpiece over and over!

For example, if you're taking a Boomerang of your buddying diving into the water at your pool, but don't quite get the perfect moment that his head hits the water, it can look kind of crummy and you probably don't want to waste your time shooting it over and over and over again. Instead, get 2 or 3 friends to jump at the same time/make a funny face/poke their head out of the pool water while your main subject if jumping, so even if one of your well-timed gags doesn't work, another one is bound to!

Similarly, if you're worried that what you're shooting might be too boring for a Boomerang, you can take a step back, angle the camera, and set up your shot to be more interesting so as you're cutting that piece of cake, a waiter walks by or your friend across from you makes a face.

If you start to think of you Instagram Boomerangs as mini movies with different details people can catch if they're paying attention, then that's what separates the Martin Scorsese Boomerang creators from the Michael Bay Boomerang creators.

A photo posted by on

Boomerang that selfie

To Boomerang dat selfie, or not to not Boomerang dat selfie, that 'tis the question (Shakespeare, probably)

Let's face it: Everyone loves to hate/loves to love/hates to love selfies, but at the end of the day, they're a fad that's persisted over a number of years and it seems like they're here to stay.

That being said, there's really no excuse to be taking boring, half-assed selfies with the same camera angles, the same background, the same makeup, the same blah, blah, blah. "But Cella!" I hear you say, "I don't want to change up my camera angles, background, and makeup! This is how I get my perfect selfies always!!1!"

To which I reply: Then just take a Boomerang!

Boomerang-ing your selfies is a really great way to break up your selfie-infested newsfeed: they're more attention grabbing with their movement, they're not super long, drawn out selfie/photoshoot videos like some people make (cough BEYONCE cough), and they're a great way to show off little details that might now otherwise be noticed in a selfie.

Instead of snapping a boring selfie of the new lipstick you bought, take a Boomerang of you putting it on. Instead of editing a selfie of you with sparkly, dangly earrings, take a selfie of you with them shining in the sun. Instead of showing off your denim coat with your dozens of buttons in a regular ol' selfie, snap a Boomerang of you putting your coat on.

A photo posted by on

Steady your phone

Like a cinemagraph, the key to creating a striking, captivating, interesting image is stillness — not from the subject you're shooting (well, sometimes, but we'll get into that in a second), but rather stillness from you and your camera as you shoot.

When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. (Kristin Armstrong)

By keeping your iPhone steady while shooting, you allow the subject in front of you to do all the moving/keep things interesting. Subsequently, you can also have your main subject standing perfectly still while things go on around them like in those 90s music videos (you know what I mean).

Regardless of how and where you choose to have movement in your Boomerang, it's important to remember that your iPhone should be steady.

If you do want to move your iPhone slightly, make sure that it's a simple, uncomplicated movement: quickly pan up and down or left and right, bring your phone in like you're zooming in on your subject, tilt your phone slightly to skew perspective in a small way, etc.

A photo posted by on

Practice, experiment, practice

Though it may seem silly to plan out things for a mere social media post, it's those attention to details that separate Instagrammers with a couple of hundred followers and those with a few thousand.

If you have a really, really good idea for a Boomerang and you know it's a bit more complicated or over-the-top, then there's no shame in practicing it and perfecting it before you post it on your Instagram feed. Heck, even outtakes could be hilarious for your Instagram Stories!

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you experiment with different things when it comes to Boomerangs — try shooting with lenses, try shooting with a tripod, try shooting while doing a backflip, try shooting underwater, etc — you might get lucky and find the next big Boomerang fad!

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to shooting a Boomerang is to stay creative and get weird with what you're trying to shoot. After All, you'll never know what looks good until you Boomerang it for real!

A photo posted by on

How do you shoot the perfect Boomerang?

Are you someone who has a few go-to Boomerang tricks up their sleeve? Is there a gadget or gizmo that you love shooting your Boomerangs with?

Let us know what your top tips and tricks for the perfect Boomerang are in the comments below and we'll be sure to try 'em out! Happy Boomerang-ing!

Cella Lao Rousseau

Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau