personal Archives | Erik Almas Photography

What if your house burnt down?

What if your house burnt down?


Have you still “made it”?


3 weeks ago I was sitting, much as I do now, winding down on a Saturday evening, finding some time to write a newsletter and blog. I had just released an image shot for Kohler, a company whose advertising I had wanted to be a part of for a long time, and wanted to write something around this image and the process to create it.


Earlier in the day I had listened to Bill Burr being interviewed on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. A good laugh, as always with Bill Burr, balanced by Tim’s prodding for life lessons.

For a minute they talk about accomplishments and the idea of “making it”. Bill Burr had bought a house and said to his wife “I know you are not supposed to say this, but; “I made it! “ he continues “There’s a sickness in this business of -If you think you made it you’re going to relax and then it’s all going to go away!”

He continued:

“No! I tell jokes for a living and I bought a house. I MADE IT!


The stigma is that one can’t, as a creative, say or admit that you have made it. The second you do, you relax and loose your drive and creativity…

I can so relate, and Bill Burr’s thoughts lingered with me as I started writing.

Shooting for Kohler was a long time goal of mine creatively and by Bill Burr’s standard of buying a house I have “made it” several times over.

So have I really Made it?

I settled in that evening reflecting on what I had accomplished as a photographer and the blog shifted to words about goals and the acknowledgment of reaching them. Of pausing and being content for a moment rather than going straight into the chase of creating another image or landing the next assignment.

That was my Saturday 4 weeks ago.

That Sunday night we woke up by flashlights shining into our bedroom window and our neighbor shouting the hillsides were on fire.

We packed our essentials and got out.


That was October 8th.


The weeks since has been indescribable. The fires around Sonoma and Napa, where we live, burned more than 100,000 acres.

Lives were lost and neighborhoods left in ashes.

One of my best friends and 5 of our neighbors lost their homes. It is devastating.


There are many emotions around the 17 days we were in mandatory evacuation and I will write another blog to chronicle the experience. My perspective on having “made it” as an artist have shifted during the past weeks and I wanted to finish the blog I started and get back to Bill Burr and his benchmark of having made it.


I have learned that a home is absolutely no measure of having “made it” as a creative. The truth is;We never “make it”. We just keep making.


I now know this to be the truth.


After we left our house that morning I got a chance to go back to grab a few items. I had a shortlist from Andrea; Journals, some jewelry and some additional clothes for our 3-month-old daughter. The main item for me was my server rack containing all my work as a photographer. I ripped it out of the office and by sheer adrenaline got it into the car.

I hosed down the house with water and walked through it one last time. I grabbed a few small items as I passed them and unhinged a few framed prints by Nadav Kander, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mario Testino, Alexi Lubomirski and a few others.

In these moments I was strangely ok with the house being gone. I knew then that this house was no measure and had nothing to do with who I am, my selfworth or how much or little I have accomplished as a photographer.


I’m sharing this, as I believe it can help a lot of young photographers starting out. And Bill Burr for that matter.


I know there are a lot of talented photographers who have given up on photography. Making a living taking pictures is as competitive as it gets, and a long endeavor if you choose to take it on.

What makes this process even harder is the social demands for immediate success.


But what if there was no monetary measure attached to successfully creating?

What if there was no pressure of even being good at it?

What if we would proudly call ourselves photographers without making money doing it?

I believe this paradigm would keep photographers in the game long enough to break through to the side of success!


As I was starting out I was embarrassed to call myself a photographer. In my hart I was one, but my job was to be another photographers assistant, carrying his gear. It took a long time for me to proclaim that I was a photographer.

Why is it so darn hard for us artists/comedians/photographers to early on confidently identify with what we do?

Why can’t we just claim our photographer, or comedian, title right out of the gate and then just slowly go about creating? Why do we have to “make it” before we can proudly claim our title?


I believe any young photographer would increase his success rate 10X if there were a disattachment between creating and success. If the bar of “making it” was set so that one would never fail there would be nothing to “give up on”.

It would only be the process of continually creating and as that continual creating would go on, success would only be a question of time.


Experiencing the certainty of loosing my home and how that realization affected me created a shift in my perspective on success and what having “made it” is.

In no particular order, and without being right for everyone, here’s a work in progress short list of what now resonates with me and the idea of “making it“


If you keep your focus on creating, you have made it.

If doing what you do expands you and fills you up, you have made it.

If you crave creating every day, you have made it.

If you are excited about what you just created and even more excited to improve upon it, you have made it.

If you are proud to show your work, you have made it.

If you found an expression that consistently expresses who you are, you have made it.

If you have done the above so consistently your expression starts to recognize itself, you have made it.

If you question why and how and who and explore this through your work, you have made it.


So my shift and lesson is this:


You can Celebrate your successes like Bill Burr, but don’t attached them to an event, a monetary item or any other social measure of success.

This will yield nothing but downward pressure and distractions to the significance of creating something which deeply resonates with your being.

It will leave you feeling like you are coming up short every time.

Which in turn will make you want to give up…


3.5 of our 5 acres of land burnt and the firefighters stopped the fire just a few feet away from our home.

I’m glad our house is standing. I’m also glad I had this experience and deeply realize the house is without significance when it comes to who I am as a creative. My “I have made it” has nothing to do with a fancy car or a home, but to every day do what expands me and fills me up.

I will remind myself of this going forward. I will worry less and create more because of it.

And if there’s any up and coming photographers or other creatives reading this; please worry less about achieving success and focus on the items on my “having made it” list above. You will then achieve your success…

Like Steve jobs said; Stay foolish, stay Hungry!


I want to end this blog with a few side notes

  1. It is an archetypal event to build or buy a home. I’m by no means diminishing this fact. In short I’m saying to not attach anything to your self-worth as a creator. Instead focus on creating and consistency, and measure yourself against your own progress.
  2. The word hero gets thrown around a lot. I have not fully understood, or felt, what a true hero was till now. The fire firefighters and individuals who fought the fires in Napa and Sonoma are my heroes. These men and women will all be my heros forever.
  3. The Kohler assignment was an extraordinary one. We started with the design of the dress. The fabric, color, pattern and form was designed for the shoot and sown to fit the model. This design informed all the other elements and creative choices of the image.
  4. I absorbed the fact that the house would burn with a strange disattachment. The news that it had survived however brought big tears of relief and gratitude. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those less fortunate.



Traveling the U.S.

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After the redesign of my website 2 months ago I have been working on updating it with new work and new categories. With this edit and all the new work that is retouched I now feel I have a website that represent where I am today as a photographer.

In this process however I realized one thing was missing til very recently: in the travel section there was not a library of images from the US.




I find it interesting that my initial idea of travel would be of places outside the US. I have lived here for 20 some years now and it do feel more and more like home.
Us Europeans often speak of the US as one entity, defining the country as one place. This does not do this amazing continent justice at all. If one compare it to other continents the US does not have the regional language or culture, but geographically it is just as diverse as any other.

So I started to work on a category with images from my travels within the US…




As a photographer I often get asked what my favorite subject is. If I prefer landscapes or people or the composite imagery?

The truth is that I like it all. It is juts different sides of myself…

Sometimes I prefer a quiet, contemplative landscape. It’s me and a camera and the space I’m in.

Other times I love to interact with people, get to know them and create an atmosphere that speaks to having fun and being in the moment or doing what you love.


Yet other times I’m a dreamer, creating the surreal or impossible or solving visual problems through my composite photography.


I like it all.


This series and edit of landscapes from the US became about a quiet bigness.

The vastness one often finds between the larger cities in this massive country is fascinating to me.

A classic idea in photography is to capture the moment between the moments.

This series of images is the spaces between places…





Swing by the website and explore the full travel section;

The mythology of flying



As I keep working at my craft of photography I find myself increasingly curious of finding WHY I’m drawn to the elements and stories I want to photograph.

Where does this pull to certain subjects, places and moods come from?

My upbringing? My life at the moment or some innate longing that is part of my, or maybe even the collective, subconscious?

Why this gravity towards some of the consistantly recurring themes in my images?

And why can’t I just break away from them and start a fresh new look to my work?

There’s the obvious answers of how one is shaped through experiences and how, through our art, we relive these and our longings over and over…

So instead of trying to completely renew I seek to understand my visual foundation and shift on steady ground rather than reinventing.




I just finished another series of images with hang gliders poetically floating through landscapes.

I have photographed this floating/flying theme several times through my career. It’s fun for me to see as they are all similar yet different. To me they all stand on the pillars of my visual identity but very much reflect where I was as a photographer at the time of capture.

Erik Almas Photographer past flight imagery


The new set of images I find to be more organic and less heavy-handed both in the concept and execution. I like to think it is a reflection of me personally as well. That I now have come to an age where I don’t need things to be so much more than they are…

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So why this fascination with flying?

Turns out the idea of flight is ingrained in our human psyche and, throughout our history, one of the more common mythological themes.
Free as the bird is a saying we all know and a sensation we visit in our dreams.

My older images had a dream quality to them for sure. In 2016 I’m still fascinated by the sensation of flight but the approach more grounded. (Pun intended)






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Till next time I feel the itch to go flying again and capture the sensation of flying…

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?






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…




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

Erik Almas Advertsing and Editorial Photogarpher India 3

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




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.