Creating space to be creative

Being creative, for me, is not something I do but something I let happen. I experience, see and observe and as I absorb these impressions of life a craving to create surfaces with its ideas and visuals.

It is often in the quiet moments while I run or practicing my craft I get ideas. It’s when the mind quiets and I’m in the “zone” and being truly present, that the well opens and ideas surface.


The past years I have found that I have been giving myself less and less time for these ideas to surface…

What have happened is me filling those moments between moments looking at my phone; To be “catching up” on all things social media, news and email. The phone is one massive creative distraction, taking me away from those moments of quiet and in some ways robbing me of the creativity flow.


Now, being conscious about the addictive distractions of the phone, I have become way better and I deliberately try to allow for this space to happen during the day.

In this awareness of me clogging up my own creativity there was a new and somewhat unexpected antidote reentering my life…




Yoga has entered my life many times over the past 2 decades.

Inspired, but uncommitted it wavered in and out of the different stages I went through without me fully getting my Yoga on.


The first time I did Yoga was a bit of an initiation. I had gotten my dream job out of school, assisting legendary advertising photographer Jim Erickson. The 3rd day at work he says; lets got to yoga!

New on the job and eager to impress, no was not an option and off I went for my very first Yoga Class.

In working for Jim there were these random invitations to a bout of stretching, but at this time in my life it never became more than that.





Fast forward a few years, and marathons, my back started giving in. Getting to the point where I could not run much anymore my chiropractor prescribed yoga.

I dove into the healing process and for a while had a private teacher specializing in yoga for people with bad backs.


The back did get better and after reading the book Born To Run, I traded out the conventional running shoes with barefoot shoes, and got back to running again. This is a whole different story, but I went from not being able to run to now running 4-5 times a week. (If anyone want an extraordinary read, Born to Run by Chris McDougall is one of my top 10 books of all time.)

By running correctly the back sorted itself and yoga again disappeared.




I had a short stint with a truly spirited class with teacher Rusty Wells. It was bongo drums and chanting and windows dripping in steam from bodies filling every inch of floor space with Yoga mats.


Even this didn’t last.


18 years after my first Yoga experience I meet Andrea Bogart, extraordinary Yoga teacher and actor.

I believe life gives you what you need at the time that is right…

This time Yoga will be a permanent part of my life. It’s an antidote to all things cellphones and social media. It’s grounding rather than fleeting and connected being to being rather than through a device.

Now, I come out of a Yoga session with a massive smile and an all-encompassing vibration that has a peaceful tension to it. It’s hard to describe but I feel vibrant and connected and beautifully disconnected all at the same time.

It creates a deliberate stillness that connects me to my own core and allow space for the creative well to open up.

I like to describe it as seeing the world through a super vide angle lens. It’s all in my view. I find it at times when running, when I make pictures and now in Yoga…




We have all read or heard about the concept of solitude and sitting by yourself for an hour. If you do so quietly ideas and insights will begin to flow from your mind. From there, whatever the current situation, the right answers usually appear and one can act on them.

Yoga has this for me. The answers are there when I leave…


This series of Yoga images is the beginning of a larger body of work inspired by Andrea Bogart.

Andrea is one extraordinary human being I’m truly grateful to know.



Hit by a truck?

We have all heard the sayings and know the metaphors of being “hit by a truck” and “run over by a bull”.

We have all been there and felt it. Metaphorically…




When Saatchi & Saatchi came knocking and wanted me to work with them on visuals overcoming these metaphors I was truly excited. As I have matured in my craft and my style of photography I find myself increasingly drawn to what add layers to my images. Drawn to the assignments that have some photographic challenge to be solved. I have found it is more the idea and concept around the visuals and how I relate to the idea that gets me excited to dive in and make compelling imagery…

For me, as a photographer, there are two areas of challenge that I strive to explore and push further. The first is the emotional quality, having a storyline expressed through talent and treatment, and the second, crafting something visually improbable.
This assignment for Saatchi had a lot of creating the improbable and some emotional qualities mixed in and it, to me, became a very special campaign.




Making an image with a person lifting a train come to life can only happen when there is authenticity in the assembly of the photographic elements involved. Only then will the mind except it as real.

The process to get to this authenticity is in 2 stages; The first is to pre-visualize and the second, to capture the parts to fulfill this visualization. In this I’m a photographer and orchestrator, using my experience in how pictures come together, how light falls and perspective works and to bring together amazing artists to make one final image.

My partners in this were many; The wonder woman with the ideas, Creative Director Carolyn Gargano, Producer Stuart Hart, the crew on set, HacJob on CGI and Chris Bodie on retouch.

We all collaborate to make the upfront vision come to life; To suspend the beliefs we hold about what is real and accept the picture of a girl lifting a truck or a train with grace and strength. It’s a lot of IDEA and part photography and part CGI. Then a beautiful blend of this in photoshop and the ideas start coming together in a photographic image.


6940-EA Semi Truck-Trailer V2a AO


Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Botox TRAIN CGI Blog



I’m truly grateful to both Saatchi and their client for trusting me with this assignment.  It was a gem to be a part of both as an experience on location and during the post process.

I have realized in all my travels taking pictures that new places and experiences are only an unlocking mechanism of oneself. This campaign for Botox was special, opening me up to people, emotions and picture making in great ways.


Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Botox Blog




Committing to my craft like a Trappist Monk

I took my first Photoshop class in the fall of 95.


I did it then because my dad was an engineer and I thought it cool to mix some computer classes into the ethereal quest of attending art school.
It was probably the best decision I made, part form studying photography in the first place…

As I learned the craft of image making, putting in most of my school hours in the traditional darkroom, I also learned Photoshop from the bottom up.

As my work matured so did the software and by the time I graduated Photoshop had it’s layers we today take for granted. With the adding of layers in Photoshop a completely new world opened up and I was truly happy to trade my chemical induced rashes caused by my time in the darkroom with time in front of the computer.


Erik Almas_Photoshop_Selfportrait

(selfportrait, 1997)


In the years following school I would assist during the days and spend my evenings and nights, only interrupted by the intermittent bout with some gin tonics, exploring how my pictures could come together in this new digital world.


With this exploration I became a part of the first generation of photographers who seamlessly used Photoshop as a true extension of the images captured, shooting for the idea and then allowing the captures to unfold within the software to a final image.



Natalia in Water.Final







Fast forward 15 some years I started to truly resist the retouching process. I felt chained to it.

I have always been drawn to the big landscape, wanting fresh air and open vistas and I no longer wanted to sit in front of the computer.


It became tougher and tougher to honker down, to absorb day after day and night after night for the fulfillment of a singular photograph. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to capture moments and emotions and deepen my visual rather than technical esthetic.


What had helped establish me as a photographer and made my career one extraordinary ride of amazing locations and beautiful encounters all over the world had become a battle ground. A barrier I had to push through to achieve the fulfillment of these moments I was hired to experience and photograph.

The battle has been ongoing. I would start avoiding the office and seeking distractions. What once put me in the zone, in complete flow, was now only happening right up against client and self-imposed deadlines.


Then there was a shift…


Instigated by a break up there was a search in me, or maybe a longing, to get back to where I started. To both reignite the old and to redefine and push forward creating new, meaningful work.


Maybe the biggest step in this quest to create anew was moving to the country side, finding a place of less distractions. Way smaller but more impactful was the suggestion to read the book Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, by August Turak.

Reading Turak’s book completely changed my view of spending post production time with my images.
In short the premise is the human archetypal longing of a transformational experience. We all seek it…
Therefore the fascination of films, books, concerts, theatre, travel and adventure, who all gives us a brief glimpse of a what this human transformational experience can feel like.


Turak argues that there’s a void in us after these short experiences, leaving us feeling incomplete or unfulfilled. (As I write this Burning Man is just over and all I keep hearing from the ones participating is “decompression”…)


Turak then goes on to describe the traditions of the Trappist monks and their commitment to effort in all things and how labor is for them almost as important as prayer in their own seeking of a transformation.

Their experience however, spanning years of dedication to craft and prayer, is lasting…
It’s a fascinating read and I walked away with a completely renewed commitment to my time spent at the computer. Commitment to doing the work, joyful or not…


I learned, it is in this resistance one find oneself. It’s in the commitment to the process, working through this opposition, one learns, renews and see things from a slightly different perspective.


It’s in this resistance greatness and transformation lies and I’m again committed.

Committed to do my best work ever, letting all my adventures and captures on location manifest itself during evening and nights in solitary time spent with my images, my ideas and myself.


Sharing what I know

For a long time I have been sharing what I know about the process of photography and Photoshop.


I graduated from the Academy of Art University December 1998. Not long after James Wood, the director of the photography department, asked me to come and speak to his class about life after school. 16 years later I still do.

Almost every semester I pop by James’ class and share what I have learned about photography and becoming and succeeding as a photographer.


It was flattering to be asked to speak for a class I had taken myself and in the beginning probably the main reason for me doing these lectures. As I kept coming back for this twice yearly visit to my old class room I found this semi annual telling of what I had accomplished since school to be truly powerful in my own development. It became a way of taking inventory and reassessing my work and where it was going…

At times when I did not feel my career was going anywhere and I was doubting myself, my photography and career-choice these visits allowed me to see my efforts at becoming a photographer as a timeline. From this perspective I would always see that I was in fact taking better and better images and maturing at my craft. In this I always found renewed inspiration to keep at photography and elusive pursuit of better pictures.


What was me sharing and giving advice became at the same time the reassessment and evaluation of my own work that in many ways kept me going. What was me giving gave me the tool I needed to succeed…
And so my path to share my craft and process started.


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Conversation



Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Crash


16 years into it, having held lectures all across the US and creating online tutorials, I have to say I love the process of sharing what I know. It not only feels great to see how my story can inspire others, but it truly sharpens me and my craft as well.

It forces me to continually ask “why” I do what I do and brings great awareness to my own process and how to improve upon it.


I never set out to teach but it has been an interwoven parallel through out my photographic career, giving me just as much or more than I have shared.


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Cowboy

My latest body of work follows the different stages of the breakup of my last relationship and the resetting my life.


The complete process of creating this series was documented by the guys at RGGEDU.

It’s me taking pictures and sharing my process put together into one.

A combination of me as photographer and teacher and I’m excited to announce the release of this tutorial in the next few weeks…

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer OldMan

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Train

Below is a great behind the scenes look at the making of the tutorial and all that went into the project.