A dream assignment

Crystal Grid

 

A few days ago I met up with two younger photographers at a coffee shop in San Francisco.

 

I have always seen myself as a young, up and coming photographer, but after two decades in photography I guess I’m now among the established, “older guys”.

Hanging out, it was refreshing to hear their perspective on an industry I have been a part of for so long.

One of them, a truly talented photographer with a large social media following, had shot one massive advertising assignment, and decided he did not want to do advertising work at all going forward. There were “too many meetings and too much politics.

He decided to now only create work for himself, and use it to bring social awareness to environmental issues in order to create lasting, positive change.

Inspired, our conversation drifted into using photography this way.

 

What I didn’t get to share was my experience with advertising photography, because it is NOT always like the experience this young photographer had.

Being an advertising photographer does not have to be diluting your work and conform it to a clients needs. It can be extremely fulfilling and rewarding…

 

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Confucius once said, but this is just a small part of it.

The bigger part for me is filling what I at times feel is a collaborative void. I talk to friends in smaller companies and they are in an environment where they all collaborate and push each other to both do and become better in their field. As a photographer there’s no expectations of me in my daily effort, but for the ones I put on myself. There’s no business partner to bounce ideas off and help move the creative effort forward.

 

This do however happen when an advertising agency calls you up and say; Hi, we have these ideas and would love to collaborate in making them into images.

At its best, the world of advertising makes me a better photographer. I then get to work with amazing creative and art directors to push and shape ideas into images better than I could on my own.

 

The epitome of this is in the assignment I just did with Y&R and Crystal Cruises.

Creative Director Trevor Oldershaw hired me and made me a partner in creating a series of images I’m truly, truly proud of.

 

The assignment:

 

Create an experience in all the major places Crystal Cruise lines visits.

To design a campaign encompassing all the wonder of traveling the world in the utmost luxury that is inclusive, and exclusive, to a Crystal vacation. To transport the viewer to another place, somewhere on a vacation of their dreams…
So off I went, visiting 10 countries on 5 continents to make dream moments, having an experience of a lifetime…

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher Crystal Cruise New Zealand

 

Among all the adventures I had in creating this campaign for Crystal, the one capturing this moment in New Zealand stands tall as the most extraordinary experience.

We had landed in Queenstown, on the south island, and from there drove four hours towards Fjordland, where we had a helicopter waiting to get us to our location. During our travels into New Zealand, the forecast had turned for the worse and when we arrived, our helicopter was grounded because of weather. In looking at the forecast and weighing our options for our four days in New Zealand we returned to the North Island and headed to Napier where the weather was better. Spending two days capturing images in what felt like The Shire from Lord of the Rings movies, we again turned south hoping for a clearing between the storms rolling in.

We arrived in Queenstown to massive rains and at this point, we were running out of time. Our last chance at capturing our moment on the mountain peaks was the very same morning as our flight onward to Argentina.

On that last day, we woke to a stunning morning and I boarded the helicopter with a big sense of relief. In our last three hours in New Zealand it would happen…

During our 90 minute helicopter ride, however, the clouds started rolling in again, pushed forward by the next storm. As the pilot let me down on the ground, the sky had clouded over with snow flurries in the air, but just as I stepped to the edge of the cliff the skies parted and the sun came through, creating what might be the most extraordinary moment I have had as a photographer.

The light and the drama unfolding over the next 20 minutes was just extraordinary. All the travel, waiting, and anticipation were worth it when standing among these lakes and mountains watching the sun trailing in and out of the clouds.

It quickly turned into dark clouds and the sun disappeared. But, those moments were all we needed and we were off to make our plane to Argentina.

 

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Photographed to represent all the wine regions Crystal visits, this vineyard moment was captured right in my own back yard.

I’m from Norway, but I have established myself in the California Wine Country of Sonoma.

It was fall of 2015 and the harvest had taken place for most grape varietals in the northern hemisphere. Shortly after harvest, the vines lose their leaves and become barren. This is not ideal for a romantic moment, so it was with a true sense of urgency we needed to find the location and make this image happen. The very best option, when short on time, is to stay close to home. A 15 minute drive away from my house is this magical vineyard that became our location and representation for a very special Crystal moment.

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher Crystal Cruise Rome Trevi Fountain

 

This image is to me the biggest visual surprise in the Campaign.

We arrived in Rome to create our photograph at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, but found them fenced in for renovation. The Trevi Fountain, however, had just finished its renovation and been unveiled the week prior. So, we joined the crowds to look at what might be one of the most spectacular landmarks of Rome. As we got there, there was barely space to walk on the streets, let alone get a glimpse of the actual fountain.

So, we set our alarm clocks and went back at 4:00 in the morning. With the fountain to ourselves, but for a few other photography enthusiasts, we got to create an image that, at night, lent a depth and mythology to the fountain and the surroundings that I found perfect for our moment on the scooter.

In improvising there’s always room for surprises and creativity and I feel this photograph speaks to this.

 

 

So, needless to say I’m grateful to the world of advertising. Yes, there are phone calls and meetings and a lot of pressure but most of the time it is worth every bit of it.

The balance of art and commerce is in the approach. My advice to a young photographer would be to find a personal anchor in every commercial assignment so that the photo is honest in the execution. This will allow your esthetic to be a part of every image, commercial or not, and for a collaboration to happen that might push your work to something better than what it would have been on your own…

 

A massive thank you to Creative director Trevor Oldershaw, Art buyer Miriam Lee and the rest of the crew at Y&R California.
Also a big, big thank you to the marketing team at Crystal Cruises. What and amazing team with a vision and mission to make the experience of vacationing with them and extraordinary one.

 

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher Crystal Cruise Seychelles

Beautifully shaken and stirred


In my 200+ days a year of travel I get to see and experience a lot of amazing places, but I have to say; I just had the adventure of a lifetime.

 

The place?

 

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India

 

Its magic has to be experienced, as no words or pictures can quite describe it. That said, this is my blog so I guess I have to give it a try:

India is not a place you visit or see. India is a place you feel.

Arriving to India I entered into a world like no other, greeted by a complete sensory overload. The visual and auditory stimuli are overwhelming and at times uncomfortable, and it is in this discomfort India become so fascinating. It rips you out of the western mindset and comfort level and tosses you into a world of captivating contrasts that made me feel strangely alive…

 

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To me, it is in these contrasts India is to be felt;

Its crowds can suffocate you but the people creating it have a great openness about them. The auditory chaos of traffic is relieved in the quiet presence felt in the old temple grounds and the history of the country.

The rituals of the lifecycle, celebrating both life and death, are one of the more powerful experiences I have been a part of. I witnessed the burning of bodies one minute and the most enchanting ceremonies honoring the elements of life the next.

It was all experiences that made me uncomfortable one minute and gave me life-affirming goose bumps the next.

 

Being in India is nothing short of a mythical jolt to the system, opening you up to life, and I hope this feeling of India stays with me. That I don’t just fall back into my western comforts but carry this sensation with me for a while…

 

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Varanasi 6

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Varanasi 2

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Varanasi 1

 

Recently our travels through India came up in conversation. One of the guys I talked to mentioned something interesting; He said he never thought he would go back to India after his first visit, but after a few years there was something that pulled him back.

It has only been a month since we got back home, but the pull of India is already there. As I look through my images and relive some of the experiences I have to say; For emotional impact there is no place like India.

 

So I’m sure I will be back to this majestic and mythical country for jet another life affirming jolt to my senses and emotions…

 

Below are a very few of the vast amounts of images captured during our 3 weeks of travel.

India foursome

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India qutub minar

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Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Varanasi 4

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Taj Mahal 3

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Taj Mahal 1
Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Kovalam_1

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Kovalam 2

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Humayan Tumb 2

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Fort Kochi 3

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Delhi 3

 

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Delhi 5

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India 4

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India Delhi 4

 

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This experience I had travelling through India would not have happened, nor been the same, without my heart, Andrea Bogart.

I also want to give thanks to International Yoga and Andrea Marcum who traded photography with Yoga and took us along for a beautifully organized 2 week trip through 5 cities of India.

 

 

Lürzer’s Archive’s 200 best Ad photographers World Wide 2016/17

I’m excited to be included in Luerzer’s Archive 2016/2017 edition of the 200 Best Advertising Photographers Worldwide with 4 images.

Humbled to say this marks my 12th year in the company of extraordinary photographers.

 

Erik Almas Luerzers Archive 200 Best Advertising photographers WorldWide Johnnie Walker

Erik Almas Luerzers Archive 200 Best Advertising photographers WorldWide American Airlines

Erik Almas Luerzers Archive 200 Best Advertising photographers WorldWide Range Rover

Erik Almas Luerzers Archive 200 Best Advertising photographers WorldWide Car Crash

 

The images included are created for Johnnie Walker Whiskey, American Airlines, McCann Erickson and the last one being self assigned.

Having personal work represented among the high production value imagery as this collection is makes this even more special…

 

It was in April last year I decided to do a series of images describing the break up of a long relationship. RGG EDU came along documenting the whole creative process around it, so not only did I create some work I’m really proud of, but I got to share my complete process from inseption to finish in the form of a wicked well produced tutorial.

That this image gets to stand among the work representing the 200 Best Advertising Photographers in the world is such fun and an honor…

 

To celebrate we are, to those interested, giving a 75$ discount on the tutorial this images was a part of over the next week. Follow the link below and use the code 200BEST at checkout.

The Complete Guide To Composite Photography, Color, & Composition

 

The pressures of a commercial photo shoot

I am the luckiest guy I know!

I have mentioned this before on this blog, and I just have to say; I truly am…

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To get paid to fly to Africa and stand on a magical sand bar in the middle of the ocean and take a picture is an extraordinary privilege.

A privilege I cherish and never take for granted.

 

The flipside to this privilege is expectations.

In one of my latest campaigns I got hired by Saatchi and Saatchi out of London to work with them on a campaign for Virgin Holiday.

When hired by an advertising agency to execute a campaign it is not because they want to hang out on a beach with you, but because they believe you can bring something special to the images they want to create…

So with this gratitude I feel towards life as a photographer there’s also the pressure to make something special every time I take on an assignment.

 

I have read that stress is the simple difference between the expectations we have, and where we feel we are.

 

So when I showed up in Mozambique, Africa, to rain and crazy winds, with a forecast promising more of the same, the gap between the expected and what we experienced was “Sky High” and then some…

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One can argue that being on a beach, rain or shine, is stress free but I assure you it’s not.

The pressures to create something special does not go away with the winds. As time move closer to our scheduled shoot the pressure linger and magnifies as a tornado ready to take off. I often thrive on this pressure to create, but when a crew of 20 some people from 3 continents gather on the coast of Africa to shoot vacation pictures in the rain the thriving turns to; WTF do we do now??

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On our second day on location with weather still miserable, we landed on one of the sandbars we were to shoot. Our client, the artdirector and myself all disbursed in different directions.
It was a dire moment.

I looked over their way and I knew they were both thinking the same as myself; Had we come all they way to Africa and having to go home without the images we came to capture?

 

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In these situations there’s a lot of things going through my mind. There are solutions to every problem, but in our case there was a crazy tight launch deadline so the options were limited.
One can do a lot of things in post production and with strobe, but to give the ocean the luminosity and color it gets from the sun is not one of them…

 

With time lost and that gap between expectations and reality mounting, we got some good news. The last shoot day showed better promise with a gap in the storms rolling in. Would we be able to get one day of sun before another week of rains came in?
My producer lined everything up to do all our shots in one short span of shooting calm water in the early part of the day, and as the evening skies cleared we watched the moonlight shimmer across the bay, all hoping for better weather in the morning.

 

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And then we woke up to this!!

 

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Which translated into one amazing day of shooting, capturing what we needed for the the images below…

 

Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Virgin_Roomservice

 

Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Virgin_Paddleboard

 

Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Virgin_SunLounger

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Being on location in Mozambique was some of the toughest and best times as a  photographer.

The silver lining is that it is in this contrast of emotions one really is living. If it all was one smooth ride life would be boring. It is in these contrasts one feel alive! There’s vibrancy in this space, and as they say in yoga; it is in resistance that we expand. It is in resistance that we grow.

 

So again, I’m the luckiest guy I know!

 

Big thanks to Paul, Dan, Saritha and Rozalia at Saatchi for one amazing adventure and to Håvard Schei for the Behind the scenes images.