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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.

 

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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.

 

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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…

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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.

 

The challenge of finding the right location

I get to see a lot of amazing places in my work as a photographer, and at times the effort that goes into putting the camera in the right place is nothing short of mesmerizing.

 

I have dived, rappelled and jumped out of planes to get the right perspectives. We have paid orange farmers to not harvest their orange trees so that we can take a picture a few weeks later and travelled all the way to Argentina to photograph potato fields. We have chased the seasons travelling southward through the US as leaves turned into autumn colors to capture the last bit of summer foliage and we have crossed oceans to create one image of a lush underground cave, photographing caves in Alabama and waterfalls in Hawaii.

 

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Location Blog

 

I believe few people outside the world of advertising understand the effort we put into the photographs we take for our clients…

In this pursuit of creating pictures at a specific time, of a specific thing in a specific place I have great help, and in describing these efforts I do say WE as this is truly an effort of many.

A photographer’s right hand, and conductor of this effort, is a great producer who will research, source, plan, arrange and seek permission.

 

For this assignment, done for GSW, we ended up in the small town of Culpepper, Virginia.  Seems simple enough to find a lake, but what if you tie it to a barn which style you only find in certain areas of the country and that again to a vintage tractor?

Then the simple search for a suitable location is not so simple, and I lean on my producer to make it all happen.

It starts with finding the states where this certain style of barn exists, then looking at places likely to have old restored tractors close by with a beautiful lake in the vicinity.

When the general region is decided upon we send scouts out to take images of the barns and lakes in the area. They will knock on doors and ask if the landowners would be ok for us to come by and take a photograph…

The agency creatives, clients and myself will then pick a place, show up, wait for the right light and hope all those efforts and the travel of many will result in the image we all hope to capture….

 

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Lake

 

 

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photographer Barn

 

At the Baron and Baroness’ Castle, Tuscany

I often get asked what inspires me.

It all do I answer…

It’s not one thing but many things brought into consciousness that shape the excitement of creating pictures.

 

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A couple of months back I, through friends, got invited to a castle outside Tuscany. I don’t think any photographer could step into this place and not be excited to take pictures! It was visually stunning and truly inspiring.

As I stand in a place like this and take in the atmosphere I always ask myself about the stories this place have shaped.

Who has been standing at this very spot prior to myself? What did they do and what were they like?

Who would they remind me of? A character from a movie or someone I know?

Would they be a part of a recurring dream or some desire of my own? What in myself would I see in them?

 

From this mindset visuals start flowing and stories take shape. I then relate these stories back to myself and ask if I can bring my current life into it.

Something current that my heart is engaged in that will compel me to craft new images that has emotional meaning to me.

It then becomes a mishmash of ideas that somehow urge me to manifest them through pictures…

 

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I like how these images stand on their own as both a travel journal and simple emotional context the spaces carry.

The true gift of the time spent there though was what I took home. Both the place and the experience there subtly instigated a change in how I approach my work.

 

So I can honestly say; I’m inspired!

Inspired by a lot of small things prompted by the experience at an amazing place in the Tuscan countryside.

So what inspires me?

It all does…

What’s needed though to bring it “all” together is a compelling enough instigator which creates a reason to capture or express, and this place in Tuscany was that for me…

 

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Bringing the outside inside!

Advertising Agency Wrayward came to me with a set of layouts for their client Velux that had an idea as simple as it was beautiful.
With skylights one opens the house to elements of the sky and in many ways brings this into ones home.
Symbolizing the elements in these ads were two kids. One storming through a kitchen with her balloons in the shape of clouds and in another a boy with his kite taking the wind with him inside…

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Prior to most assignments I sit down and write a few words about approach and idea. These treatments are for the clients to see how I plan on executing the assignment but also for me to pre visualize the images and their story. I think about the content and how I personally connect to it. What my view point is and how I relate to the idea. How I think about it….
In this the images start to take shape in my mind, I see the different elements and how they come together into one single frame.
I then start thinking about the less tangible parts . The ideas, stories and expressions. This is the truly time-consuming part of a treatment but also the one that to me is the most important:
How to add the emotional elements that makes the image more than a two dimensional surface. The context that exudes this emotion and makes the viewer connect to that singular frame.

The ideas for these shots for Velux were so developed from the agency side I truly got to extend myself further and think about the kids and their metaphor of being of the elements of clouds and wind.

From my treatment:

“In crafting these photographs I want to make strong, beautiful and iconic pictures which at the same time has a whimsical but honest sense to them. Whimsical in idea and character, honest in space and how our talent portrays themselves. Pictures that are cinematic in the light quality and real in the emotional content. Real enough for the viewer to be able to relate to a playful kid and connect to the story…

Who are these kids? What do they think and dream of and how do they embody their outside element?

The questions are fascinatingly open ended…
I see the kids as dreamers. Harnessing a bit of the outside as in capturing a dream. It is with them inside. Through the skylights the world is wide open and the kids have a limitless attitude. In this moment of carrying the world and it’s gentle elements there’s a fearless sense of pursuing ones dreams.

There’s a sense of excitement and curiosity and just being a kid. Both of them inside doing out door stuff, carrying themselves with a feel and sensation of getting away with it.

The girl with the balloons is as ethereal as clouds. Just as the changing weather she has this intangible quality…
A smart, beautiful girl with a bit of tomboy attitude.

The boy, a care free windsurfer with a mischievous smile of certainty. Certain that whatever he does, its the right thing to do…”

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I’m not sure if I managed to capture my intentions of who these kids were.
In some ways it’s not so much the point either.
It’s more about having that something to strive and reach for in my quest to create better and better pictures…

Big thanks to Scott and David and everyone else at Wrayward for fantastic creative and trusting me with their ideas.

I’m in great gratitude.

And please check out the Behind the Scenes Video of how it all came together…