DVD Name: On Aspects of Image Making
“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:
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.
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.
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.