- Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris on July 26 of 1928 thanks to his Jewish and Russian immigrant parents where he spent his early childhood years in Milan. His thirst for photography began when he emigrated to the United States, more specifically in Hollywood California, at the age of ten. Elliott went to study photography and filmmaking at the Los Angeles City College and at the New School for Social Research and graduated in 1950. He later on pursued a career in journalism, fashion, and print advertisement. His work has been published in many monographs as well as being a member of the Magnum agency since 1953 which is a photojournalist cooperative. It was Robert Capa who invited Elliott Erwitt to join the Magnum agency.You can find collections of Elliott Erwitt’s photographs which are exhibited in many museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C, the Art Institute of Chicago, and kunsthaus in Zurich. He speaks English, French, Italian, and Russian which is an advantage for him during interviews all around the world.
- “Why not? Dogs are expressive; they are everywhere; they are sympathetic.” A mischievous pause. “And they don’t ask for print High quality global journalism requires investment.
- “Digital photography is a great tool …” he explains, “as long as you don’t manipulate pictures. That undermines the basic quality of the photography which is what is in front of the camera.” s.”
- He is adamant that he does not consider himself an artist. “That’s somebody else’s problem. I consider myself a reasonable craftsperson.” Such modesty belies the power of images that, whether sweet or sad, funny or ominous, are clearly animated by what Cartier-Bresson once described as the “poetry of life’s reality”.
- Asked what makes a great photographer, Erwitt pauses, then quotes a friend: “She said it was someone who shows you something you can’t see yourself.”
THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S GENRE/MARKET:
Elliott Erwitt is an advertising and documentary photographer. Advertisement photography’s goal is to take pictures to either illustrate or sell a certain service or product. He took pictures for the S. Pellegrino advertisement for example. Documentary photography is when a photographer takes pictures of significant and historical events. He is also a street photographer.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S STYLE:
Elliott Erwitt likes to take ironic and absurd photographs of people in certain situations because he finds that amusing. Also, all of his pictures are taken in black and white which conserves the classic photographic look. All his pictures are taken in “decisive moments” which means that the pictures taken of subjects appear astonishing. Elliott’s work is very amusing and funny. It is very important for him not to manipulate pictures because he is very realistic and doesn’t want to try to create an impression. He says that if your going to manipulate a photograph, why don’t you learn how to paint instead. He also says that the basic quality of photography is that it should be believable.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S SUBJECTS:
Elliott Erwitt takes pictures of adults, children, and dogs. Some of his pictures are concentrated on people’s hands. As we have heard in the interview, Elliott Erwitt simply takes pictures of what he finds interesting. He says that he likes to go to places where the pictures are going to be interesting such as at a nude camp or at the beach for example.
THE PHOTOGRAPHERS INFLUENCES:
Elliott was influenced by famous photographers that he met such as Robert Capa, Edward Steichen, and Roy Stryker. Robert Capa was a partner of Henri Cartier Bresson which is also another famous photographer. Elliott was also influenced by movies. He said that he could like bad movies simply because they looked good.
This photograph is ironic for we would expect for the lady being taken as the subject of painting be nude instead of the painting artists which creates a feeling of confusion when looking at this photograph.
Here, as we can see is a nude man trying to influence two elderly women who were judges for mister nude California which find the situation quite funny. Elliott takes pictures of situations we wouldn’t see in our everyday life. This photograph was taken in California in 1983.
Here, we can see a little boy holding a gun on his head with a big smile on his face. Here again is an ironic situation for we don`t expect for little boys to have guns and especially not having fun by holding them on their heads. We can clearly see the usage of depth of field which puts the observer’s eyes focus on the subject in the middle of the photograph.
This photograph is absurd for it is completely illogical that a man in the army probably going to war has a big smile on his face like he is actually enjoying his job while the others in the background are disciplined and showing no emotions. Elliott says that he’s quite lucky to not have been killed during times of war. “ Some people are lucky and others not“.
This picture was taken in 1950 where water fountains were distinct for white people and black people for racial discrimination purposes. This was only 61 years ago which can be shocking to viewers nowadays. The left water fountain is all clean compared to the other one which shows how people were careless of black people and thought of them as unimportant.
The little baby seems to be screaming so loud that it creates the sensation of almost being able to hear him which demonstrated how powerful this picture is. The subjects in the picture are dressed in white and sitting on a black couch which makes them stand out.
I find this picture very interesting for it seems to me like the model is looking at the women as if she was the object instead of the opposite. The woman is looking at the model and seems to be admiring it because of her perfection which is what is happening in 2011, women look at perfect models and expect to look like them to be beautiful.
As we can see, this picture was taken while two men were fighting. As observers, we can almost feel the tension between the two men and imagine situations that would bring them to fight in the middle of the street.