Photography Legends #3 – Erwin Olaf

Born in Hilversum in the Netherlands in 1959, Erwin Olaf lives and works in Amsterdam since the early 80’s. Mixing photojournalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged in the international art scene in 1988 when his series ‘Chessmen’ was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then Olaf has continued to explore issues of gender, sensuality, humor, despair and grace in each successive series.

Printing his early work in documentary style black-and-white, he first gradually introduced color and then digital manipulation. There is great contrast between each series. In his four most recent series Rain, Hope, Grief and Fall, Erwin Olaf returns to classic imagery with minimal computer retouching.

Video and film offer new possibilities to explore. His first film Tadzio (1991, co-directed with painter F. Franciscus) was soon followed by comic videos for children’s television, short documentaries, music clips and commissions by the Dutch National Ballet. Recently Olaf has created autonomous video works like Separation, Rain and Grief, starring models who also appear in the accompanying photo series. In the films they play a different character, as though his moving images provide a parallel history to his color photographs. These short films have been selected for film festivals all over the world.

Over the years many of Olaf’s works – from his unabashed nude portraiture and intense symbolism to the unflinching gaze in his blood-drenched images of staged violence – have provoked controversy. Not surprisingly, this ability to attract attention has seen his work embraced by the advertising world, resulting in commercials for Lavazza, BMW, Microsoft and Nintendo among many others. Lately Erwin is frequently shooting in commission for magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Elle and Citizen K.

Dutch National Soccer Team "New Warriors"

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Mist-erious

Every season has it’s charm i guess.
I happen too love Spring and Autumn the best – but that’s just me. One reason why is the cool mornings where it cooled off from the day before so it covers up the land with a thick layer of mist. Everything suddenly looks soft and blurry… With the right light and sometimes the help of a little colourboost in photoshop  – Mist is a very nice ingredient for some stunning looking pictures.

By: Frederic Larson

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Ugly pictures….

Whilst some have it and some don’t – it is always debatable what defines beauty and what defines not so beautiful. And then of course, that opinion varies from person to person.

As for myself,  i find it rewarding to take pictures of people and portray them as beautiful as i can. Being quite the perfectionist myself, i throw out pictures that aren’t good enough in my opinion. Be it the lighting, the angle or the background. Same goes for my landscapes… I just don’t like to have people walking in them.

Having said that, i also don’t believe in photoshopping so much that it changes a person. Authenticity makes the person and is therefor beautiful in my book. The other day my friend and i came up with the idea to go out one day and take pictures of really ugly things, just to challenge ourselves and not be so idealistic about just trying to take beautiful images…

We will do that someday soon – but then i saw these photos and it made me realize: although every person is unique and beautiful in their own way – for animals that is certainly not always the case….

By: GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

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