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Official Review of “On Aspects of Image Making” DVD by Erik Almas

December 3rd 2012 9:01 AM

BASIC INFORMATION

DVD Name: On Aspects of Image Making
Cost: $299
Website/Purchase: http://www.erikalmas.com/acuities/

TRAILER

OVERVIEW

“On Aspects of Image Making” by photographer Erik Almas is a great educational DVD.  The 8+ hours of footage include 5 image-making case studies and many behind-the-scenes videos explaining the whole shooting process from the very beginning all the way to post-production. The stuff listed above is great, but what really makes this DVD stand out from the rest, is the amount of knowledge Erik provides to the viewers. This DVD is not just one of those “technique”-DVDs, where the subject-matter has been narrowed down to just a few techniques. Erik’s goal with this project is to help the viewer to become a well-rounded photographer. By the end of the dvd you will understand how you can find your own visual identity and style as a photographer. Erik will teach you how to make rather than take images. He gives you a step by step process that will help in creating a great body of work. And the list just keeps going on. This all happens through a set of exercises that Erik has created exclusively for this dvd.

And that really is just the beginning. Throughout the dvd, Erik takes the viewer with him to real-life working situations. Seeing how he shoots, lights, problem solves and interacts with his models is very educating and helpful. Erik covers every single aspect of a photoshoot, from pre-production (conceptualizing, casting, location scouting) to the actual shoot (creating a scene, lighting, interacting with the models, shooting) and all the way to post-production, where the image is brought together in Photoshop.

Now, let’s go through the DVD #1 in more detail:

DVD #1

In the first two chapters Erik introduces himself to the viewer. He describes the career path that has taken him from working as a DJ in Norway to becoming a highly acclaimed commercial photographer living in USA.

Chapters 3 and 4 are probably the most important and valuable chapters in this dvd. In these chapters Erik talks about visual identity and finding your photographic voice. He wants to help the viewer to understand why we take the pictures that we take, and why we are attracted to the things that we are photographing. Erik spent almost 17 years searching and figuring out his identity as a photographer, and his goal in these two chapters is to provide the viewer with “shortcuts” that will make the process faster. He introduces an exercise that will help you to become aware of the things that you are drawn to, and the things that you have to put in your pictures.

After completing the exercise it’s time for the viewer to put the newly found visual identity and photographic voice into action. And this is what Erik talks about in chapters 5 & 6. In chapter 5 he describes four different ways a person can approach the creation process, and in chapter 6 he goes into detail about creating a scene. He introduces a concept called “reverse memories” and talks about creating a story and emotional content in our photographs.

Chapter 7 is a case study about Erik’s “Land Surveyors” photo-series. In this case study he talks about the pre-production and preparation for the actual shoot (conceptualizing, finding models and props, location scouting etc.)

In chapter 8 Erik talks about composition by analyzing old master-paintings. He teaches the viewer several compositional techniques that will make photographs more pleasing to the eyes.

Chapters 9 & 10 are a continuation of the case study that we first saw in chapter 7. In these chapters Erik takes the viewer to the actual photoshoot and talks about working with the models and problem solving.

In chapters 11  and 12 Erik takes a moment to talk about the advantages of compositing and working with Photoshop. After that he takes the viewer along for another case study where you’ll see how Erik takes advantage of compositing in a fashion photoshoot organized in Brooklyn.

If you’ve been wondering what equipment Erik uses, chapter 13 is for you. In this chapter Erik goes through the equipment that he uses at the moment.

Chapter 14 is a very interesting chapter that talks about the most important tool in photography – light – and how we can shape it in a way that pleases us. Erik is very knowledgeable about how natural light works, and teaches the viewer a lot in this chapter.

Chapter 15 is another behind-the-scenes case study of Erik’s “Boathouse”-shoot.

Chapters 16 and 17 are very valuable and high-quality chapters that talk about the business aspect of being a photographer. In chapter 16 Erik introduces an exercise that will help you to create a great body of work in just a few months time, and in chapter 17 Erik speaks about marketing, which is of very high importance to any professional photographer. Erik goes through the marketing strategy that he used when he began his career, and also talks about the strategy that he uses nowadays as he markets his business. He also provides the viewer with a 7 point plan for marketing. (You can take a look at a seven minute excerpt here: https://www.slrlounge.com/erik-almas-talks-about-marketing-and-photography)

DVD #1 comes to an end with one more case study in chapter 18 and a final chapter titled “Reflections” where Erik goes through a 10 step list that summarizes the message that he has tried to convey in the DVD.

BONUS MATERIAL

DVD #1 also includes some bonus material (a 1 hour interview and some light studies), but I won’t go into further detail about these, you’ll have to check them out on your own.

DVD #2

The second DVD comprises of 5 photoshop tutorials, in which Erik walks us through the post-processing of five different images. He talks about the techniques that he uses when compositing and editing photos in Photoshop. All together this second dvd has almost 5 hours of high-quality tutorials.

FINAL THOUGHTS & CONCLUSION

So, as you can see, the amount of information Erik has included in the DVD is very extensive. Before watching the DVD, I feared that watching one man speaking for 8+ hours would get boring, but that really wasn’t the case with Erik. The way he talks is very relaxed and natural, but at the same time he delivers his message in a very clear and concise way.

Also, the fact that the concepts and techniques throughout the DVD are explained within the context of a shoot, is awesome, as this allows the viewer to see the techniques in action.

I personally  have watched the DVD several times now and find that each time I catch something I missed the last time through. There is simply so much information in this series that watching it through once won’t be enough.

So what is my final verdict?


Whether you’re already a pro, or just an aspiring photographer, I believe that this DVD has something to offer to all of us. Erik stresses the importance of apprenticeship and learning from people who have been doing this for a longer time than us, and while this DVD won’t replace the need for that, it still comes very close. Watching this DVD is just like having a personal 1-on-1 workshop together with Erik. In my opinion this is the best educational DVD from a real working pro I have seen in a while.

The price of this DVD is the only set-back in my opinion. $299 is a large amount of money, at least for aspiring photographers, but at the same time, the sheer amount of content and information that Erik provides in these DVDs is mind-blowing and well worth the investment.

Give yourself a great christmas present and purchase this DVD. It just might change your life.

About

Lauri Laukkanen is one of the youngest established advertising photographers in Finland. At the ripe age of 21 he has already been working with some of the biggest commercial clients and his photos have been featured in the media, all around the world. Check out his portfolio here.

Comments [14]

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  1. Erik Almas Inspires with Nature in a Commercial World

    […] [rewind: “On Aspects of Image Making” DVD by Erik Almas]   […]

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  2. Jones

    ive watched it and at times it was a bit boring, guy just shoots quite a few photos and then its just compositing compositing, he never does it right in camera, not worth 300 bucks, sorry

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  3. picsy

    Just watched it.. And it’s NOT worth $300 sorry Erik.. next time
    Don’t be so greedy…

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  4. Scott

    Is it worth $300? I don’t know yet.

    Would I spend $300 on it based on what I know so far (ie the review and comments)? Unlikely. 

    Is it possible I will find out through other sources that it is worth at least $300 to my business? Quite possibly.

    The simple reality is that pure photographic information is available online for free, if you care to invest the time in looking for it. Where the value lies in products like these is in showing photographers how to either shorten the learning curve dramatically, or by showing them how to recoup their investment by improving their business processes. If this product is appropriate to your imaging/imaging business, then go for it, but if it’s not, then find the tools that are. 

    Personally, I would be far more interested in the business aspects if they were available separately simply because I don’t (and likely never will) use Photoshop to the extent Erik does, so much of this product seems wasted on me. 

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  5. _muckraker_

    the dvds are worth $300 if people are willing to pay $300 for them. in the world of photography, spending money seems to be the name of the game for some people, so i wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad proposition for almas.

    what i can say is this: if it had been $100 instead, i would have pre-ordered it. now, i think i’ll wait for the price to come down. i was really excited about these dvds, but i can’t justify spending this much on a dvd, no matter how good…

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  6. Jtes1442

    It’s not fair to expect to pick up this DVD for peanuts. I’m sure it cost a “little” to produce. What I’m disappointed by is the review. How about pointing out what kind of photographer would benefit from this particular DVD. How does it compare to previously reviewed DVD’s?

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  7. Tompenpark

    I have attended Erik Almas speaking. He is very skills in both conceptual and technical details. His works speak for him. I don’t have $300 for the DVD now because it is a high price but I will save my money to get it. That price worth the inspirational ideas deep from
    his mind. For anyone who complain about the price, you can spend $$ on any books.
    For me, one hour listening to what he said and show worth more than the book price already, and he got more than that to show.
    In Chinese, there are masters in arts and craft,
    Erik studied from a true master and delivered in his way. Now he show it to the world.
    Just go look at his work in prints, or go shoot the way you did.

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  8. Erik Almas

    I want to Thank Lauri and SLR lounge for taking the time reviewing the DVD!
    Ryan, I want to adress the price point as this is something we talked about a lot and I’m sure will be mentioned here again.During the course of making this DVD we have had people saying over and over that we should split this up in 5 DVD’s as we are including so much content. In the end we decided to do 1 package and treat it more like a complete workshop rather than smaller case studies  or techniques. I have collaborated with photography professors from Norway and the US to create the content into something truly educational. This is not a “see how I do it DVD”, but a ” these are the steps you need to take to make it DVD” covering all things Photo shoot AND Post processing.Now if you are taking a workshop with Joel Grimes, one of Kelby’s best guys, that covers some of the same topics of DVD 1, the cost is 995.Also, looking at the history of other DVD’s issued by other photographers the price have been 300. What we have produced is more than twice as long as most of these. (8+ hours having to use 3 DVD’s to included all the data)Hope this sheds some light on the value and the price tag.My best,Erik Almas 

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  9. Marcel K Bauer

    Looks amazing, alot of work has gone into this.

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  10. Ryan Cooper

    Interesting DVD, price tag is ridiculous  Why do all these top photographers think that charging hundreds for a DVD is a good business decision? It prices most of your potential market out. There is a reason Kelby Training is so dominant in photo education. Hard to justify $300 for a single DVD when I can get more content by just as experienced and renowned photographers for $24 from Kelby.

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    • Justsayin

      I recently received the Peter Hurley DVD as a gift from my wife.  Peter hardly touches on anything technical and only shoots headshots on a white background in that video (ok, he does some grey backgrounds too).  Since the “gift” was from my wife, technically the $$ was still coming out of my pocket and I’d still say it was worth every penny.
      $300 is a lot of cash, but if you’re specifically interested in Almas’ style it sounds like the amount of info on this dvd is extensive and well worth $300.  Think of all the production time that went into creating it alone. I’ll assume you haven’t seen any of the content on this disc other than a preview and yet you”re still willing to say it’s “hard to justify” the price.  If you own a DSLR and a decent lens you know this isn’t a cheap pursuit or profession.  $300 to learn how to do it well is a justified expense.  

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    • Ryan Cooper

      I have seen Peter’s DVD, a friend had bought it and we watched it one time at his place. At the time I had no idea that it was $300. I won’t argue that it is a great DVD with tons of fantastic anecdotal advice. But at the same time if I pay $24 to Kelby Meda Group I can watch the course “A Day with Joe McNally” which is a similar level of content, in a similar teaching style, from a similarly successful photographer. Then after that I can go watch a “A Day with Jay Maisel” and now I just doubled the level of content that Peter offers in his DVD, at $24, and after that I can watch 4 or 5 more courses by other world renowned photographers.

      The decision is this simple: A photographer just entering the industry has to keep spending at an absolute minimum. That photographer knows they need to educate themselves. They are then presented with the choice of effectively 1 course by 1 photographer at the price of $300 or a massive collection of courses from several photographers at the price of $24.
      The decision is really a no brainer. Which is why Kelby Media Group rakes in millions of dollars. Their production costs are no lower, but they reach such a larger audience that they end up being far more profitable.

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    • Pye

      I don’t know if it is fair to compare something like this to Kelby Training. Most of the less expensive Kelby Training DVDs ($29 – $79) range are shorter and more generalized trainings. Not to say they aren’t good, but they aren’t comparable in quality and content. Kelby’s higher end more specialized trainings are just as much if not more than this DVD set. Rather than comparing this to the price of a DVD, you need to be comparing it to an equivalent 8 hour workshop. Hope this helps.

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  11. Julia Gabriel

    Looks like a fantastic DVD. 

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