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Olaf Pigtanaro is a true European. Born in France, he has since lived in Germany, Italy and the UK, where he now calls London home. His oeuvre is broad, covering everything from BMX photography to fashion but his main focus is sport. Which is just as well because as one of Red Bull’s regular snappers he’s called on to shoot a lot of it.
I started out shooting BMX. When I was in my teens I used to skateboard and ride. Some friends of mine started a BMX fanzine and I, wanting to help, grabbed my mother’s camera, an old Yashica film SLR, and started to take photos of fellow riders.
My work grew with my client list. I started out shooting just the action sports that I was practising myself, BMX and skateboarding, then moved into snowboarding, freestyle MX and so on. But as my client list expanded and the sports they covered grew over time, I moved to a broader market. Now I am confident shooting any kind of sport.
For sports photography you need a camera that can shoot a decent number of frames per second. I realised this pretty early on, so I upgraded my mum’s old Yaschica for a used Nikon F4 – I couldn’t afford to buy the newer F5.
I take a lot of inspiration from my colleagues. I’ve been a photographer for Red Bull for a long time so I’m using and checking their image bank, Red Bull Content Pool, a couple of times a week. That means I can see the work of other professionals who operate in my same field, potentially using a language similar to mine.
Don’t get me started on the photos I would have loved to have shot. There are too many and so many jobs I see that I wish I’d been working on. I look back at a lot of my own old work and wish I’d shot it now, because I would’ve done it differently.