Elliot Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt was a documentary and advertising photographer. He is well know for his black and white candid photographs, where he photographs every day things, such as families spending time together, someone cooking, children, eating and everything else. Erwitt started studying photography in 1939 at Los Angeles city college when he moved to America, finishing his education in 1950. Elliot served as a photographer’s assistant in the 1950s in the United States army. Photographers such as Robert Capa, Edward Steichen and Roy Stryker influenced Elliott to take photography further as he was inspired when looking at the images they took of society, making them look natural, within the moment, and what actually happens in real life.

Roy Stryker hired Elliott to work on a photography project for the ‘Standard oil company’. This experience led to him becoming a freelance photographer, producing work for Colliers, Life and Holiday. He then went on to continue shooting projects around the world because he joined the Magnum Photos agency in 1953.

All of Elliott Erwitt’s photographs are very simplistic and observed. He waits to grab the best angle and photo which comes naturally. In four of Elliot’s books that he published, Son of bitch (1974), Dogs Dogs (1988), Woof (2005) and Elliot Erwitts dogs (2008), a subject he decided to focus on was dogs. Elliot went on to spend a lot of time in film making since the 1970s. Some the documentary films that he produced are ‘Beauty knows no pain’ (1971) and ‘Red, white and bluegrass’ (1973), but the most well known one is ‘Glassmakers of Herat, Afghanistan (1977).

I looked at one of Elliott Erwitts latest books called ‘Personal Exposures’. Seeing what few others see and capturing it for us, is the essence of personal exposures. In this book Elliott put together prints that he rediscovered after a long time of not seeing them, creating a unified whole that reflects a consistent, mature vision of photograph and humanity. He photographed men, woman, children in off guard moments, old people, little girls, and many other things. I took ideas from his work, looking at how he approached society to photograph them working, living everyday, something I am going to do. Finding people in the most bizarre places, doing unusual things, or things we see all the time, find that perfect moment and then capturing it.


References-

Book: Elliot Erwitt, W.W.Norton & Co,First Edition(16 Nov 1988).Personal exposures. Schirmer/Mosel Verlag Gm (2012).

Website: http://hautlieucreative.co.uk/Photography/2014A2E/elliot-erwitt-david-bailey-preferences-for-film/ viewed 27/11/14

Website: http://www.americanphotomag.com/photo-gallery/2014/05/elliot-erwitt-work?page=1 viewed 27/11/14

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Documentary project development 1

  Chef

  Restaurant

  Tatto Studio

  Contact Sheets


The theme i chose for a project that i am working on at uni was Intimacy and documentary. I was influenced by photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Martha Cooper, Eugene Richards, Elliot Erwitt and Alfred Eisenstaedt. Their work intrigued me when i saw how they each photographed documentary in different ways. I took some of their ideas and incorporated it into my own shoots, showing an understanding of their work but also creating my own ideas about what i thought intimate documentary was.

Throughout the first half of my project i focused on photographing people in the city, working places, shops, pubs, bars etc. I wanted a series of my images to document their lives from far away and sometimes in close proximity. I produced contact sheets and final prints in black and white film.