Erwin Olaf (Dutch, b.1959) is a photographer best-known for his personal and commercial work. Olaf studied journalism at the School of Journalism in Utrecht, and he has won several awards for his work. His chessmen series won first prize in the Young European Photographer competition in 1988. He also won Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards in 2006, and was named Kunstbeeld magazine's Artist of the Year of the Netherlands in 2007. Olaf also works with film, using it to provide a history that parallels his color photography. His films have been screened worldwide in museums and film festivals, such as the Museum at FIT in New York, the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, the Fashion Film Festival at Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Fashion Film Festival in Melbourne, the International Film Festival in Turkey, the Dutch International Film Festival in Rotterdam, and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.
His photographs have been shown in galleries and museums all over the world as well. His works have appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Moscow FotoMuseum, Hong Kong Tapper-Popermajer gallery, the New York Bilbao Art Centre, Vitoria-Gazteis Chelsea Art Museum, the Groningen Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, the B&D Gallery in Milan, the Roselyn Oxley Gallery, and the Venlo Institut Neerlandais. His most famous works include Grief, Rain, and Royal Blood. His work is often controversial and provocative. His work was once expelled from a show because it was not considered provocative enough (because it did not contain any nudity).
Olaf has photographed campaigns for Microsoft, Levi's, Nokia, Diesel Jeans, and Heineken, the latter two garnering him the coveted Silver Lion for Advertising at the Cannes Film Festival. He continues to photograph famous people, places, and things; he offers his expertise to international companies for both executive portraits and advertising campaigns. He has completed two books: Own, which is a collection of his work throughout the years, and Erwin Olaf.