Mikkel Aaland (born 1952) is an award-winning American photographer and is known for work in the early days of digital photography. His documentary photographs have been exhibited in major institutions around the world, including the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the former Lenin Museum in Prague. Aaland is the author of books featuring his own photojournalism as well as works on digital imaging and various Adobe Photoshop products.
Aaland was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Livermore, California. His Norwegian born father worked as a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory research facility. Aaland was an Eagle Scout who attended Livermore High School, where he played football. He graduated from California State University in Chico with a major in photojournalism and was an All-American swimmer on the NCAA Division II championship team.
In 1978 Aaland published his first book, Sweat: The Illustrated History and Description of the Finnish Sauna, Russian Bania, Islamic Hammam, Japanese Mushi-buro, Mexican Temescal, and American Indian & Eskimo Sweat Lodge. The book was the culmination of a three-year travel and photo-journalistic tour of the world's various bathing customs. Currently the book is being developed into a PBS television documentary by Moga / Jacobsen Productions.
Aaland published his second nonfiction book, County Fair: Portraits (1981) after spending nine years traveling the United States visiting county fairs. Jon Carroll wrote in New West magazine, "(County Fair) is a chronicle of people being who they are. These faces become historical." The photographer Mary Ellen Mark said of the book: "Such moving photographs, funny and sad. It's real Americana. Aaland is a latter day Mike Disfarmer." In 1982 Aaland appeared as a guest on the David Letterman Show, sharing work from both Sweat and County Fair.
During an interview in 1981 Aaland was introduced to the newly emerging field of digital photography by renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Aaland soon became the West Coast editor of the Swedish FOTO magazine. He contributed articles and photos for other publications such as American Photographer, American Photo, Digital Creativity, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Popular Science, and Wired. In 1981 he received the National Art Directors award for photography.
Digital photography work
One of the first to write about digital photography, Aaland released the book Digital Photography (1992). The book gives instruction and tips on using digital cameras to take unique photographs. He followed that with Still Images in Multimedia (1996) and then Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera (2003), which was named by Designer's Bookshelf as "Best Digital Photography Book of the Year for 2004."
In a diversion from photography instruction, Aaland published The Sword of Heaven: A Five Continent Odyssey to Save the World (1999). The book describes six years he spent traveling around the world documenting a peace project initiated by survivors of Hiroshima and led by a Shinto priest.
Beginning in 2001, Aaland began publishing a number of guidebooks about using the computer design program Photoshop to enhance digital photography; Photoshop Elements Solutions: The Art of Digital Photography was followed by second, third, and fourth volumes. He also acted as an unpaid adviser to the development of both the alpha, beta, and final versions of the Adobe Photoshop Elements application. Photoshop CS2 RAW: Using Adobe Camera Raw, Bridge, and Photoshop to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Camera (2006) was Aaland's first of two books explaining the graphic file format RAW, which is used by professional photographers.
While working as an adviser on the photo editing software for Adobe Systems Lightroom's beta tests, Aaland proposed a real-world test of the software by inviting professional photographers to travel to a far-off land where they would use Lightroom. The result of this was Photoshop Lightroom Adventure: Mastering Adobe's Next-generation Tool for Digital Photographers (2007). Aaland followed up that book the same year with Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure: Mastering Adobe's Next-generation Tool for Digital Photographers, which brought professionals to Tasmania to show users how photographers work with the Lightroom 2 software.
Aaland's most recent book Photoshop CS3 RAW: Transform Your RAW Images into Works of Art (2008) explains and simplifies working with the RAW format of digital photographs. Ron Eggers wrote in Professional Photographer: "Aaland explains every tool and analytical device in detail. While some points could have been stressed a little more... Aaland is particularly good at providing detailed information without losing the reader in technical jargon."
- Sweat: The Illustrated History and Description of the Finnish Sauna, Russian Bania, Islamic Hammam, Japanese Mushi-buro, Mexican Temescal, and American Indian & Eskimo Sweat Lodge, Capra Press: Santa Barbara, 1978; reprinted, Borgo Press: San Bernardino, 1989. ISBN 0-88496-124-9
- County Fair: Portraits, Capra Press: Santa Barbara, 1981. ISBN 0-88496-172-9
- The Sword of Heaven: A Five Continent Odyssey to Save the World, Traveler's Tales: San Francisco, 1999. ISBN 1-885211-44-9
- Digital Photography (with Rudolph Burger), Random House: New York, 1992. ASIN B000KVE4BA
- Still Images in Multimedia, Hayden Books: Indianapolis, 1996. ISBN 1-56830-273-8
- Photoshop for the Web, O'Reilly Media: Cambridge, MA, 1998; 2nd edition, 1999. ISBN 1-56592-641-2
- Photoshop Elements Solutions: The Art of Digital Photography, Sybex: San Francisco, 2001; 2nd edition, 2002; 3rd edition, 2005; Wiley: Indianapolis, 2005. ISBN 0-7821-4446-2
- Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera, Sybex: San Francisco, 2003; Sybex/Wiley: Indianapolis, 2007. ISBN 0-470-04287-7
- Photoshop CS2 RAW: Using Adobe Camera Raw, Bridge, and Photoshop to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Camera, O'Reilly Media: Sebastopol, 2006; reprinted as Photoshop CS3 RAW: Transform Your RAW Images into Works of Art, O'Reilly Media: Sebastopol CA, 2008. ISBN 0-596-00851-1
- Photoshop Lightroom Adventure: Mastering Adobe's Next-generation Tool for Digital Photographers, O'Reilly Media: Sebastopol, 2007; 2nd edition, 2007. ISBN 0-596-10099-X
- Zwingle, Erlan. American Photographer, December 1, 1982.
- California Bookwatch, April 1, 2006.
- Ibid., May 1, 2008.
- Ibid., November 1, 2008.
- Internet Bookwatch, March 1, 2009.
- Lombardo, Daniel. Library Journal, March 15, 2007.
- M2 Presswire, "Helping Digital Photographers Go RAW; O'Reilly Releases Photoshop CS2 RAW," April 18, 2006.
- bid., "Photoshop CS3 RAW - New from O'Reilly Media Transform Your RAW Images into Works of Art," January 28, 2008.
- Ibid., "Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure - New from O'Reilly: Instruction with Inspiration," November 10, 2008.
- Petersen's Photographic, March 1, 2005.
- Lafortune, Wes. Photo Life, May 1, 2009.
- McNamara, Michael J. Popular Photography, September 1, 1993.
- Eggers, Ron. Professional Photographer, October 13, 2008.
- Ashbrook, Stanley B. PSA Journal, June 1, 2006.
- Ibid., October 1, 2006.
- Ibid., March 1, 2007
- Ibid., January 1, 2008.
- Ibid., March 1, 2008.
- Ibid., January 1, 2009.
- Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2000.
- SciTech Book News, March 1, 2001.
- Ibid., June 1, 2006.
- Ibid., December 1, 2007.
- Ibid., September 1, 2008.
- Ibid., December 1, 2008.
- Blogcritics, Testi, T. Michael. February 12, 2008
- Online Photographer, Ctein. June 8, 2009
- Photography Today Testi, T. Michael. September 5, 2007
- Artist website
- O'Reilly Media profile
- Shooting Digital website