Erwitt, Elliott

American (1928-)

Elliot Erwitt is a photographer with a sense of humor; a self-proclaimed master of the “indecisive moment,” he’s drawn to capturing the absurd and ironic, but always with a sense of benevolence and care for the subjects he’s portraying. His playfulness and fun have won him success not only with art lovers, but in the advertising and documentary realms as well.

Born in Paris to Russian parents, Erwitt moved to the US in 1939. Fascinated by the entertainment industry at a young age, Erwitt put himself through film and photography school in Hollywood by doing janitorial work for the university. After school, he worked as a photographer’s assistant for the US Army and, while stationed in Europe, was fortunate enough to meet Edward Steichen and Robert Capa. Via these connections, Erwitt obtained several commissions; he was hired to do some promotional work for Standard Oil and to complete a photo essay on the city of Pittsburgh. Erwitt used these projects to launch his freelance career, beginning relationships with Collier’s, Life and Look magazines, later joining the Magnum agency in 1953. Most recently, Erwitt has devoted his time and energy to film work, making documentaries, commercials and comedic films for HBO.