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.

6 continents and 12 countries, the wild adventures of the past few months…

The last few months has been nothing short of one extraordinary adventure!

I have been through 5 states and 12 countries on 6 different continents.

In reflecting back on it I can’t help but feel like the luckiest guy there is…

To be hired to see and explore, interpret and create in some of the most extraordinary places in the world is nothing short of a blessing. In this 4-month period I feel like I packed a lifetime of experiences and it’s only after I got a bit of a break I managed to start absorbing and appreciating it all.

I’m excited to share more about these 4 assignments as they get published. They all have their own story with a lot of heart and effort from all involved. On this blog I usually like to share some of the thoughts around the images I make, but in this case I believe the below photographs will be way more telling of the travles made and the experiences had. So here’s a brief travel letter from the places I have been the past 4 months…


New York


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog New York




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog miami


Costa Rica


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Costa Rica





Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Maine


Hong Kong


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Hong Kong


New Zealand


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog New Zealand


Buenos Aires


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Buenos Aires




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Amsterdam




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Barcelona




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Rome




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Venice



Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Croatia


Wentzville, Missouri


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Missouri


Trondheim, Norway


Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Norway




Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog london



Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Mozambique


Travel by plane, helicopter boat and tractor…

Erik Almas Advertising Editorial Photograper Blog Travel


The Roots and the quiet moments before getting on stage

What music would you play if you were to hang out with some of the best live bands around?

How would you set the mood with music if you were to photograph The Roots as they prepare for going on stage??

OCTAGON_MARTELL_Wip_11Test New Headv3



The Agency Octogon came to me to help create a new ad for Martell Cognac, featuring The Roots.

The idea was to show Questlove (Ahmir) and Black Thought (Tariq) in a dressing room as they prepare to go on stage. Reflection, self-evaluation, and elevation all happen at various moments in our lives, but they consistently are a part of the quiet moments before we are to do something of importance….

The intention was to capture The Roots in their pre performance rituals as they get into the zone, soak up the things that inspire and prepare to elevate themselves and those around them to share their music with the world.


In preparing for this picture, and any picture for that matter, I seek in myself a connection to the moment I want to create. I seek to understand, relate and make the emotion my own so the relationship between me and the captured moment will be a real one rather than completely created for the purpose of advertising.


So what are my rituals? How do I get into flow?


Early in my career one of my preshoot rituals was to play Opera.

I loved being in the car, driving through the dark with the anticipation of what the sunrise would bring, listening to the emotions packed into the performers voices.

My favorite was Maria Calas singing Mamma Morta. It’s a stunning aria where she goes from mourning to rejoycing, from seeking to believing and from darkness to light in the span of a few minutes. This aria is symbolic of so many things and in the quiet moments before sunrise gave room for getting in flow while waiting for the light to reveal the landscapes before me…



“It was then, in my grief,

that love came to me.

A voice full of harmony says,

“Keep on living, I am life itself!

Your heaven is in my eyes!

You are not alone.

I collect all your tears

I walk with you and support you!

Smile and hope! I am Love!”




The morning I drove into Manhattan to photograph The Roots was an amazing one. As I crossed the Williamsburg bridge the sun was rising and the wind from the open window flowed through the vehicle.
I shot the image below and let the sensation of the day envelop me just like Mamma Morta would do and I started thinking about what music one would play for amazing musicians…




As I have grown older and increased the understanding of myself and how I prepare and get into flow, my preshoot ritual has boild down to a short walk and a few deep breaths.

I close my eyes and breathe deepley. This grounds me to the moment and make me present. Not just in person but of the moment so I can soak up what is infront of me, connect to it and find in myself what I can bring to it.


As for the music it landed on my digi techs playslist; An eclectic mix of rock and electronica…

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 come forth…

What I have noticed 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 wide 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.