Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

As I search for great ads for this column, I was intrigued when I stumbled across this campaign for Absolut Vodka. This recent campaign goes back to the roots of the classic campaign from years ago and away from the recent “In an Absolut World”. What I found even more intriguing is this was shot by Erik Almas. In Erik’s recent work, it is taking a new challenge; a new direction and I think a better one.

Suzanne: Looking at your website, I feel as if you are evolving in style and production. You are shooting more bold colors and higher production. It is so important for a photographer to grow and push out of their comfort zone. Would you say this is true about your work?

Erik: It’s very important for photographers to grow. I think that if you don’t challenge yourself somehow in the pictures you take you will very quickly become irrelevant in today’s increasingly visual and restless culture.

I feel I evolve visually but within that progress also stay quite faithful to my photographic voice and esthetic. What I have found, and this is probably what you are responding to, is that I’m now more frequently asked to apply my style to subject matters that is not necessarily in my portfolio.

Suzanne: When I look at this campaign, I see images from a casino, a campaign with a shield and several others that tell the art director that you could work well with props and retouching. Would you agree with that and why you were a candidate to shoot this campaign?

Erik: I’m sure an art director could see the translation of the Union Pacific shield standing tall in a landscape to the Absolut Vodka bottle doing the same but I don’t think this parallel were the reason I got hired to do this Absoult campaign.

The creative team on Absolute came from a different perspective and approach… In the great tradition of the Absolut campaigns these images are also executed with actual sets built around the bottle. The crew at NewDeal Studios started with a 1 liter bottle and scaled everything around it so that the bottle would feel over sized. These grand spaces we see in these pictures are actually not more than 4×4 feet in size…. I don’t know the full story behind choosing the photographer but know the creatives at TBWA/Chiat/Day were looking for someone to bring life to the sets more so than lighting the bottle perfectly. This led them to look beyond still life photographers to someone that could bring a landscape atmosphere and esthetic to the sets.

Through my agent I got introduced to the agency and we were the ones that, proud, lucky and honored, got the job and got to be a part of the Absolut Advertising Campaign.

Suzanne: I was talking to another well-known photographer and he said the best projects that took him out of his comfort zone, created the best results. Since this campaign is so different for you, would you agree with that statement?

Erik: In general I think repeating oneself will rarely be considered great in our own eyes. Photographers, or any artist for that matter, always seek new ways to express one. In this quest the best work will then always be found outside of our comfort zone… So yes I would agree with that.

The measure of these being better or not though I’ll leave to others…

Suzanne: Can you tell me about this campaign and all the elements to it that were later composited to this campaign?

Erik: Got tons of great feedback when the campaign was released. A lot of curiosity of how it was done and a good amount of comments were suggesting CGI and different elements being put together.

It’s great that the Absolut team went for building sets as it ensured the bottle being the real thing and completely integrated into the environment.

As described above these images were pretty much done in camera. The image of the bottle being unveiled from the wrapping paper is as captured but for wire removal and simple darkroom work and for the other 2 images the shot glasses is the only composite element.


Advertising Agency: TBWA\Cheat\Day, New York, USA
Global Creative Director: Sue Anderson
Creative Director: Hoj Jomehri
Associate Creative Director: Kevin Kaminishi
Senior Copywriter: Madeleine Di Gangi
Senior Art Producer: Julia Menassa
Account Director: Hugo Murray
Account Supervisor: Jessica Beck
Photographer: Erik Almås
CGI (Glasses): HacJob
Producer: Stuart Hart
Props: New Deal Studios

Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.

Restless, driven, always pushing himself toward new means of technical and aesthetic expression, Erik has made a name for himself creating award-winning imagery for esteemed clients such as: American Airlines, Dodge Ram, Absolut Vodka, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Microsoft, Puma, Spanish Tourism, The Ritz-Carlton, The United States Postal Service, and Union Pacific.

Having been introduced to digital technologies in the latter part of his academia, Almås quickly discovered this equipment was the future to brining the old-fashioned qualities of film characteristics and darkroom techniques to his images. By embracing Photoshop, he had access to a creative tool that continues to evolve as a key part in the extension of his style. This embrace ensures that every client continues to receive bespoke images that are a true representation of a photographic vision – a vision always steeped in down-to-earth sensibilities influences by his childhood in Norway, fed by a love of world travel and practices in his day-to-day.

In addition to commercial assignments, Erik brings his sought after sensibilities of art and beauty into creative collaborations for fashion, travel and fine art.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

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  1. I find it interesting that ad photography so heavily retouched and enhanced in DigitalPost, has put itself so squarely in the realm of photo illustration, which used to be a separate branch of advertising image-making. Early on, I shared a rep with nationally-known illustrators such as Bill Mayer, Rick Lovell and several others, and was always a great admirer of their work. It’s strange that in this day of tighter budgets and the great expense of creating such photo-fantasy as this Absolut campaign, that great ‘illustrator’ artists aren’t used more often. I mean to take nothing away from the prodigious talent of Erik and others, but when does a great image really need to be a ‘photograph’… or for that matter, cease being a photograph?

  2. Awesome Pic, but for me even more awesome way of advertising. Those guys of absolut know what they are doing

  3. I am a huge fan of Erik, and I am happy for him making a Absolut adv.

    However for some reason I think this series is not totally representing his style. The reason other than it is a non-human subject appearing on the pic is the subject dominating the frame and took about 40%of the pic. He never did this until two resent campaigns.

    The reason, the brand style? Art director? I don’t know, but maybe I can just blame Mr. Franklin for it.=)

    • These are amazing, and do not suffer because they don’t have a human in it. Erik equally served his client, art direction and voice. It seems like your interpretation of his style is only based on the surface content and subject matter of what he’s shot, not his overall visual point of view.

      • Well, I think you maybe misunderstand me.

        I believe a part of his style which i enjoy is his composition. Subjects occupied no more than 15% of the total frame area which gives me a really relaxed feel to it. There is no doubt he did a good job on this assignment but these pictures are not my personal favorite within his portfolio.

          • My pleasure. BTW I really like your desert boat ADV.

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