The Vulnerable Artist
What astounds me about Erik Almas, perhaps even more than his already-astounding artwork, is his vulnerability to open up to his audience and fellow photographers about his journey as an image maker. He writes in his blog very personally, letting his readers peek into his thought processes as a growing photographer, and even invites them to join in on conversation and critique of his work.
This same vulnerability translates into his work, and in his latest video. Erik details the process behind crafting this amazing composite image from photographs he took in Namibia and San Francisco.
He also shares his thoughts about the ongoing debate about whether a composite image is a photograph, and whether a composite-maker is truly a photographer.
Deep in my heart, engrained down in here, I am a photographer. I see light, I see shapes, I see things that I capture with my camera. And I have chosen to use the computer as an extension of my vision to fulfill what I see with my eyes afterwards.
To Erik, the computer allows the image that he sees in his mind’s eye to be made possible, if not more true, to what he sees. Sometimes, what is captured through one camera and its one lens is less accurate than what can be crafted through a computer.
For example, in his trip to Namibia, Erik wanted to capture the awe and majesty of the great landscape, but using a wide angle lens to capture the whole scene distorted the image so that the grand mountains in the background just disappeared. To capture the scene in the way he saw it, he used a longer 85mm lens that compressed the distance so that it would more accurately show what it looked like at the time. He then used the computer to stitch these photos together, and also to add different layers such as rocks, a river, mountains and even a mountain biker, to create the overall image he first envisioned in his mind.
I think Erik Almas is a really humble and down-to-earth guy, especially for someone who is so successful in the advertising industry. He really seems like the kind of person who, if asked, would be down to just sit down and have a genuine conversation with you about photography, life lessons, success, and what not over some Blue Bottle coffee in his quaint SF neighborhood (which he did with our author, Lauri a few months back). And it’s this natural and unpretentious personality of his gives his art a softer tone, and makes me appreciate it more.