Erwin Olaf: Elevating Retail Photography To Art Worth Collecting.

erwin olaf
Above: The Egg vase by Moooi, shot by Erwin Olaf

As an advertising art director, one mentally creates lists of ‘blue sky’ directors and photographers with whom they wish to work. Erwin Olaf is one of the photographers whose work I’ve admired for a long time and, along with Eugenio Recuenco, tops my list as the most lust-worthy photographers.

Photographer Erwin Olaf

Just shy of 50 years old, Olaf was born in the Netherlands, lives and works in Amsterdam and has received several awards and has had many exhibitions of his works all over the world.

He’s an incredibly versatile talent and can shoot everything from fashion, product, people, and more, all imbued with an artful eerieness and uniquely composed. Some of his work is overtly sexual, some incredibly macabre, and some almost heart-breaking. But all of it is beautiful.

He’s shot for everything from Diesel to Nicorette, fashion editorials for Elle and the NY Times, lifestyle shots for Campbell’s and Kohler, retail for Microsoft and Moooi and so much more.

I first discovered him when I came across his incredible product photography for Moooi, which he has done for the past 3 years. Often shooting such products as lights, vases and chairs results in a predictable shot. Not with Olaf. Here are just a few examples of that work:

Photographer Erwin Olaf

product photography by erwin olaf

Photographer Erwin Olaf

great product photography

Photographer Erwin Olaf

In addition to his commissioned work for ad agencies and clients, he has many personal series and collections (often shown in galleries worldwide) from which I’ve pulled a few pieces to share with you.

Photographer Erwin Olaf Blacks series

grief series

Royal Blood:
royalty blood photos by erwin olaf

Some shots from his latest work; Laboral Escena, Gijon, Spain:
by erwin-olaf

I also wanted to show you, in detail, his digitally manipulated photography for a fashion photo editorial of couture clothing for the NY Times in 2006. In the shots shown below, you can see how the models ‘meld’ with their surroundings. Despite this unconventional way of shooting fashion, the unusual poses do not detract from the clothing and yet the photography now stands out from other fashion shots as original and memorable.

Photographer Erwin Olaf


Photographer Erwin Olaf



Photographer Erwin Olaf
fashion photography


digitally-manipulated photography

Erwin Olaf photos


There’s lots more to see, so check it out.
Erwin Olaf’s website.

1078 CJ

My other fave? Check out Eugenio Recuenco’s work here.