What exactly is a bull doing running down Wall Street? What would it feel like to fly above the highest of mountains while swimming in the deck pool of a flying blimp resort? Where does a little girl get the nerve to approach and tease the king of the jungle? It seems that in Erik Almås’ photographic world there are no limits as to what is possible whatsoever.
The San Francisco-based Norwegian photographer has long established a name for himself as a prominent image-maker of extraordinary worlds. As a prolific photographer and avid globetrotter, he constantly travels around the world shooting campaigns for clients such as Absolut, Toyota, Puma, Nike, Hyatt, USPS, Citibank and Amtrak. Driven by an ambitious spirit and a creative vision that knows no artistic bounds, Erik Almås creates award-winning imagery that travels far beyond the customary realms of commercial photography. And quite frankly, far beyond the limits of our everyday world.
His latest project, commissioned by London-based creative agency The Frameworks, is the new campaign for Dassault Systèmes, the French producer of 3D design and product lifecycle management software. Working closely with Frameworks’ Creative Director Ray Brennan, Almås’ sought to bring every idea to life in a soulful and photorealistic manner through pictures that in some ways ''suspended disbelief''. Shooting on location - from Baker Beach in San Francisco and the New Mexico Badlands, all the way to Las Vegas, Wall Street, and the African savannah - once again, Almås takes us on a journey around his world through images only made possible by the modelling software that they promote.
Having long developed his own distinctive visual language that flirts with the surreal and the unexpected, he opts to create his images himself, skillfully putting together parts and pieces to craft a new composite image made of a multitude of shots and CGI renders. ''What I do love about these assignments is that I truly get to create something. It’s not a picture that you can just go and take. You actually have to see something in your mind, visualize what the outcome is, and then go ahead and capture the pieces you need to create that and put it together on the computer''.
At the crossroads of real location shooting and digital post production, right where the imaginary collides with the real, Almås puts together dramatic scenes where improbable scenarios take centre stage amidst a hyper reality of their own making. Every image is conceived around a main anchor subject that he calls the ''unmovable part'' with every other element built around it. Whether it is a lady in red that fuels the instincts of a menacing bull while walking down gloomy Wall Street, or a lion sitting in a living room setting that channels the tonal scale of the African savannah, the most unusual protagonists become the focal points of his compositions where we, in turn, have the opportunity to witness their storylines unfolding right before our eyes.
However imaginary and staged they might be, Erik Almås’ images still manage to project a visually convincing reality that appears to be as much a part of our world as it is out of place. Whimsical and surprisingly serene, his strange and immensely exciting fantasies have got a hold on us.