February 2016 | Erik Almas Photography

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…


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…



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??



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?




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.




And then we woke up to this!!




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

Erik Almas Advertising and Editorial Photographer Virgin_Padleboard_Single_POV_Wip_3


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.