Elliott Erwitt was born in 1928 in the beautiful city of France, Paris. When he was ten in 1939, his family originally from Russia shifted to the United States. There, from the New School for Social Sciences and Los Angeles City College, Erwitt learned photography and filmmaking until 1950. During the same decade, Erwitt worked as an assistant photographer.
He got an opportunity to meet well-known photographers, like Roy Stryker, Robert Capa and Edward Steichen. Erwitt was hired by Stryker who used to be the Director of the department of photography at Farm Security Administration, to do a project for Standard Oil Company. Once done, Erwitt started a freelance career in photography and worked for Life, Look, Holiday, and Coiller’s. In 1953, Elliott Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and this gave him a chance to do international projects.
A subject that Erwitt has extensively covered is dogs. They have been the focus of four books by him, including Elliott Erwitt’s Dogs, 2008; Woof, 2005; Dog Dogs, 1998; and Son of Bitch, 1974. The title of the earliest book is quite interesting and humorous. Erwitt described dogs as funny in some situations and as having a few qualities of human beings.
Moving on, Erwitt developed a second self, André S. Under this alter ego, in 2009 he published The Art of André S. Solidor and displayed the work in London at the Paul Smith Gallery in 2011.
Prior to this, in 2002 Erwitt was given the Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society for his contribution to the art and field of photography.
Some of his most noteworthy photographs were all shot in the United States, such as a street level photo contrasting the size of a chihuahua in a sweater and of the feet of a woman in New York City, 1946; Water Fountains in North Carolina, 1950; a photo of Erwitt’s spouse gazing at their child on the bed illuminated by the light coming from a window in North Carolina, 1953; an image of a couple shown through the side mirrors of a vehicle in California, 1955; an image of Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon in Moscow, 1959; and Felix, Gladys, and Rover in New York City in 1974.
Apart from just photography, Elliot Erwitt has dedicated his time and energy to movies starting from the 1970s. He has made T.V. commercials, documentaries, and feature films. Examples are, Glassmaker of Herat in Afghanistan, 1977; Red, White and Bluegrass, 1973; Beauty Knows No Pain, 1971; and Arthur Penn: the Director, 1970. Apart from this, he did additional photography in Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, 2009; for Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, 2005 he did still photography; and for the 1970s Gimme Shelter, he was the camera operator. In 2011, an assortment of his films were shown at An Evening with Elliott Erwitt at the DocNYC Festival. Moreover, Erwitt was starred in a documentary film, Elliott Erwitt: I Bark at Dogs directed Douglous Sloan.
Elliott Erwitt is a world renowned photographer who has contributed significantly to photography, upholding a triumphant career in commercial photography. On one hand, he is eminent for incorporating irony, pun and humor in his work and on the other, Erwitt also produces photographs that are sober and emotive. It often seems that his work is produced effortlessly, however there is much attention given to techniques, insight and timing.