Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris to Jewish-Russian émigré parents on July, 26 1928. He is best known as a documentary photographer who specialized in capturing absurd and unique moments within everyday settings. When Erwitt turned the young age of ten, his family moved to the United States, which enabled his further study of photography and filming at Los Angeles City college and the New School for Social Research. In the 1950s’, Erwitt served as a photographer’s assistant while stationed in France and Germany with the United States Army. Upon his return from the US military, Erwitt settled in New York City and became an official member of Magnum Photos, an agency in which he is still an active member to this day. Throughout his career, the legendary photographer was influenced by many others of his time, such as; Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, and Roy Stryker. With his skill, vision, and knowledge, Elliott Erwitt soon began his successful career in freelance photography, where he was able to shoot photography projects all around the globe.
One subject seemed to especially interest Erwitt; dogs. They have been the subject of four of his books and counting! Throughout his career, Erwitt has been capturing the famous and the ordinary, the strange and the mundane in his own unmistakable and humorous style. He has published books, journalistic essays, and advertisements have been featured in publications around the world. His work has also been exhibited world-wide at museums such as Smithsonian, MoMa, Kunsthaus, and The Art Institute of Chicago. But the success doesn’t stop there. In 2002, Elliott Erwitt was presented The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his significant contributions to the art of photography. He was even profiled in a documentary film himself! However, since the 1970s’, Erwitt has been following another path and devoted much of his time towards the film industry; which consists of feature films, television commercials, and documentaries. Some of which were screened in 2011 as part of the DocNYC Festival’s special event.
The work of Elliott Erwitt captures the simple things we see in life on a day-to-day basis into black and white candids of both humorous and abstract ideas. He is able to observe and seize the unique moments and stories in life that most of us overlook. In all his golden years of picture-taking, the great photographer has always insisted on letting the photo speak for itself. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a treasurable moment needs no interpretation.