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The key to being a great photographer is to be able to see what no one else can. One must capture those poignant moments in life that speak for themselves and that carry multiple meanings, layered on top of one another. It is surely a great feat to be able to take pictures and turn them into an art form. It takes a unique eye accompanied by an imaginative mind to create a photographic vision that tells a worthy story. Elliot Erwitt made a living photographing commercial shots ranging from magazine covers and advertising still lifes, to travel ads, but it is his personal 'snaps' (as he likes to call them) that display his worldly wit and passion for the quirks of life. Erwitt's versatility is displayed not in the grand, majestic images that are so often seen in the media, but in his subtlety and in his ability to freeze time in that exact moment when nothing appears to be happening, yet so much is. And it is within these fleeting moments that Erwitt tells his story whether it be social, comical, whimsical or just plain beautiful. His wide array of subjects shows us that this is a man who sees the world through the eyes of his camera and who is not afraid to blink.
Elliot Erwitt was fittingly born in the city of art, Paris, France in 1928. He was raised in Milan and Hollywood and began photographing while still in high school. His first camera was an old 4 x 5 Speed Graphic but today he uses anything from an 8 X 10 view camera to a Leica. In 1953, after his discharge from the U.S. army, he joined the Magnum Picture Agency from the personal invitation of Robert Capa and he quickly rose through the ranks to become one of Magnum's top photographers. Between his careers as a commercial photographer and a photojournalist, Erwitt takes personal 'snaps' for his own pleasure, and has put out several books featuring his odd photographs, which include among many other things, very humanized photographs of dogs, a true tribute to his eccentricity.
In this age of digitalization and computer manipulation, to find out that Erwitt rarely even crops his photos is quite refreshing. What he saw is what you get. With his trusty Leica, Elliot Erwitt has scanned the globe in search of those seemingly ordinary images that we perceive as mere passing moments in life, that come as a dime a dozen. Erwitt however realizes the natural composition of the moment and hence provides his photographs with that instant eye-catching capability that draws the viewer directly to the photograph. Once Erwitt has your initial attention, he then lets his subjects do the rest of the talking. On page 276 of Erwitt's compilation book Snaps , an elderly man sits on a ledge, staring into space, holding a large sign with a quote from the bible that reads "The End is at hand" (1. Pet. 4 . 7.). The picture was taken in Hyde Park in London, England (which is made apparent by the double-decker bus in the background) known for its Speaker's Corner, where people congregate to voice their qualms with this world. Erwitt has captured a candid moment here that delivers an unusuall
Names mentioned in this term paper
Elliot Erwitt, Robert Capa,
Organizations mentioned in this term paper
Magnum Picture Agency, Khmer Rouge,
Locations included in this paper
France, Cambodia, U.S., Paris, Madrid, London, England, Milan,
Facility referenced in this essay
Keywords mentioned in this essay
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