Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interview with Photographer Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf-The Ice Cream Parlor, 2004

Ruben Natal-San Miguel a member of ARTmostfierce Art Blog had the privilege and pleasure during the Lucie Awards Press Luncheon on Sunday October 19, 2008 @ Splashlight Studios to conduct interviews with several of the award recipients.

Erwin Olaf, honoree for Achievement in Advertisement , Susan Meiselas for Achievement in Photojournalism and Herman Leonard for Achievement in Portraiture were ones who I had such honor to ask several questions.

Due lack of time and creative ways , I decided to formulate and ask the same questions to see how different or similar their answers will be. The interviews will be posted in three different blog postings to provide each artist the images and attention that they surely deserve!

Ruben Natal-San Miguel- Congratulations Erwin!

Your body of work is extremely elegant, avant garde, rich in detail, sophisticated and your Aperture Monograph is such a gorgeous publication

Erwin Olaf- Thank you very much!

RNSM- Your photographs have a cinematic/ documentary quality, Is that your main source of inspiration?

EO- A lot of my work takes on inspiration from the 1970-1980's Italian , Spanish and German cinema. Films by directors David Lynch, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Passolinni and Almodovar are among my favorites. I like to portray the inner life of people. There is always a story behind them but, I always leave it open to the audience so they can make their own interpretation. Also, I like to pay great attention to detail, the eye for detail is very important to me. In addition some of my inspiration comes from the paintings of Norman Rockwell, Edward Hooper and the photography of Guy Boudin, Helmut Newton and Christopher Makos.

I had done some video but , they so far last roughly about 3 minutes . I want to make them last longer at least 20 minutes. I want the viewer to observe them for a longer period of time and keep them entranced in the process.

RNSM- How do you establish a difference from your editorial commissioned work vs. your artistic free work?
Is there such a difference? and why?

EO- There is a difference between them but, at times, one can influence the other. On the editorial commissioned work you are selling a product and you need to satisfy the clients needs.

At times it can be difficult but, also is a learning experience for when you do more creative artistic work . There is no boundaries when you are doing your artistic work so it can be more satisfying, however the commission work help you set parameters of how far your artistic work can go.

RNSM- What is your favorite photograph or series of your work?

EO- Oh No! I can't answer that ! That is a very difficult question! LOL!
I must say, that the Mature Series in which I photographed mature woman is very dear to me.
In addittion the Royal Blood series is also dear to me as well.

RNSM- What is the best piece of advice that you can provide to an aspiring photographer in order to succeed?

EO- I think it takes about 3-4 years of hard work. It is very important that you choose your own personality , your own signature style and know yourself really well . Also to have a vision and real motivation in life. They say that every 25 years the establishment finds about 5 individuals to be the next stars and you don't want to wait that long to be the next one.

RNSM- Last question...What are you working on right now? Can you tell us?

EO- Right now I am getting inspiration from Helmut Newton . I am exploring his photo series from the 1970's . I would like to pay homage to his work and develop my own interpretation from it.

RNSM- WOW! I love Helmut Newton's 70's work and I can't wait to see what you generate.
Thank you so much Erwin is a pleasure meeting you and thanks for sharing your opinions with us.

EO- Your welcome!


Anonymous said...

Went to Erwin's speech last night at Aperture and he was amazing!! His book is on the top of my list. Great interview Ruben. I could listen to Erwin forever.

kim reierson said...

Bravo Ruben!