Crafting visual stories set to my own Journey

Moving from a small town in Norway to San Francisco to attend art school was a massive cultural change. And that’s an understatement…

 

I soaked it all up searching for my identity and spirituality but found true resonance in the “Symbolism and Mythology” class. Joseph Campbell quickly became a favorite as he made initial sense of the stories told through religion and mythology.

That he had advised George Lucas in shaping the journey of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars sure helped and “The Hero with a thousand faces” became THE book…

 

Today, as I continue my effort in crafting images that reflect my own story, I always refer to the Hero’s Journey. I find it to be the most powerful tool there is in shaping stories around my own life events that I want to describe and share through my photography.

Mythology tells the human story in such an engaging manner, and Joseph Campbell has offered a key to help understand their metaphors. His writings are my continuous support as I try to become a better photographer, depicting my own story…

 

Erik Almas Advertising and editorial Photographer Crash

This image of the car crashing into the river is from 1 of 4 shoots I just did based on recent life events of mine.

I could depict these in a literal manner, or look to the journey of all transformation and their cycles to help translate emotion into visual stories;  Stories truly connected to me but photographed with models and in some metaphorical way describing the emotional context…

 

 

 

To make it all happen the image was photographed in 2 locations and then blended together in post.

 

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Practicing; #The100dayProject

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Last year I spent almost a month in Buenos Aires.

Half of that time was vacation, during which we took 2 hours of tango lessons every day. It left me with some amazing experiences, some basic Tango skills too embarrassing to ever use in public, and a very obvious reminder.

During these 2 weeks we got to know our tango instructors quite well. They were master dancers at the very top of their game, but they would still, every week, take lessons from other dancers. I was curious about this and in conversation asking why, the answer was the quite obvious; One can always get better and always learn a different way of moving.

 

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I often feel that as a photographer I am in a bit of a learning vacuum. It is learning by doing and exploring, but not with the constant input of a mentor’s direction. I constantly think about the tango dancers in Buenos Aires and them learning from others every single week, and I recognize I crave this.
The best athletes all have coaches. They push forward on their own but always with guidance. Why would us photographers work different?

The environment for a location photographer like myself, putting in 250 days a year of travel, is not very conducive to a classic mentoring environment, so I’m not quite sure what this will look like for me. I have done a few workshops with other photographers, and go to lectures given by all kinds of inspiring people as often as I can.  This helps, but it is not a classic “master”…

A few weeks back I was having dinner with my great friend and photographer Thayer Allison Gowdy and the discussion came upon this subject of constant practice and learning. Friends of Thayer’s had initiated the “100 Day Challenge” online, and we decided to tag along.

Our challenge: To create one portrait a day for the next 100 days.

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In this there will be learning by doing, but by doing it together there is accountability. Accountability to get things done and to explore and compare the daily portrait.

It’s intimidating to share work that is a part of practicing, but it is also liberating to put images out there with no other purpose but to keep myself to the daily effort of photographing someone.

Self-help gurus say the way to instill new habits are to consistently do something over 100 days. It will then become habit…

So on I go to create a habit of making a portrait every day. Through this hope to learn something new; a daily way of deepening my understanding of the elusive quality which makes a great picture, and my ability to connect with the people I photograph.

 

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The pictures in this series are inconsistent in their quality, but I’m still utterly excited about the work. The series is not about the singular image but about me becoming better at my craft.

I’m excited about learning and excited to be doing something new. To create a new habit of constantly carrying a camera and constantly observing.

Here is an outtake of some of the 43 images so far…

 

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All of them are posted live on the below tumbler blog if you would want to follow.

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/erikalmasphotography

 

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How I got to photograph Trash bags

In the locations and subject matters of my shoots I learn a lot of things that I otherwise never would.

From the history of cowbells to the history of Tequila, from diving in underwater caves to rappelling into caves of mountains.

It’s all learned and experienced through the camera that I carry.

 

One of my last assignments for Glad trash bags offered another curiosity; People just LOVE the scent of Gain laundry detergent.

Who would have known there are “Gainiacs” out there?? People so crazy about the Gain smell, finding it so “divine”, they make everything smell like it?

Well,  I now know. I have been initiated into the world of Gain scent!

 

When Glad  introduced their trash bags with the Gain scent they wanted to tell this story. It was time to let the “Gainiacs” know trash bags now came with their favorite smell!

And I was the photographer to be a part of it…

 

During the preproduction meeting of the shoot I got a rare insight into why the creatives wanted me to work with them on this assignment. It was quite fascinating for me as I’m never privy to the discussions of why an agency chooses a specific photographer.

When the agency introduced me to the client they described why they had chosen me specifically.

There was the light quality, bringing something ethereal to the image. The photograph could not be flat but had to have an airy sense of excitement about something mundane as trash bags.

There was the way I photograph women; Respectfully beautiful.

Then there was, to me, the really interesting part; They had looked at the way I photograph flowing fabric and found me perfect to make the trash bags visually more engaging than the plastic it is. To make them flowing in the air with grace as our hero woman in the ad impatiently ripped them out of the box and into the air to soak up the Gain scent….


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I was surprised about the detail my images were looked at. In the end this helped both me and the final photograph as I decided to approach shooting the trashbags just as I would a flowing dress; With fishing line and wind mashines…

 

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If you want a good laugh check out this short clip of us shooting flowing trash bags in the air…

 

 

 

 

A big thanks to the Advertising Agency Alma for trusting me to make trash bags look beautiful, seeing beyond plastic into the sensual flow of fabric of couture dresses…

 

 

My visual esthetic and that of the classic Norwegian Painters

It’s now 20 years since I left Trondheim, Norway, to study photography in the US.

Going about my craft, making pictures I felt good about, one can think it strange it’s only a few years ago that I discovered the connection between some of my signature imagery and Norwegian mythology and paintings.

Even though my photography have tones and themes resonating with the style described as “national romanticism” I have not consciously set out to recreate or pay homage to these paintings. Nor have I studied these prior. Subconsciously I have just been drawn to their style, or maybe even the very esthetic, landscape, light and mythology all norwegian artists has been living with growing up…

In recognizing this it became very obvious to me how my upbringing and the Norwegian landscape have shaped me as a photographer and how scandinavian my visual sensibilities truly are.

 

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When designer Leila Hafzi approached me to photograph her latest bridal collection with the inspiration rooted in Norwegian mythology and it’s landscape I was truly excited.

We would venture to the west coast of Norway and photograph the myths around the Snow Queen, the Hulder, and one of the more famous Norwegian paintings, Brudeferd i Hardanger (Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord).

In discussing this project it was impossible to not get into the subject of recreating our own version of this painting.

As we decided to do so it became the first time I consciously created an image to pay homage to a style that have deeply affected me as a photographer.

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Leila Hafzi is an extraordinary designer and working with her on several of her design projects have been extremely rewarding creatively.

I’m in gratitude to her and all the ones involved in this project. Especially the people at the tourist office in Stryn and the people of Flo who dressed up in the traditional norwegian garb Bunad to help recreate our Bridal Procession.

 

Below are the images we created for this collection and a behind the scenes look at how it came together.

 

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