Elliot Erwitt • Photographer Profile • Magnum Photos

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"It's about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It's simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what's around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy"

- Elliott Erwitt

b. 1928


Based in New York, USA


Available for commissions
& assignments

Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1948, he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research.

Erwitt traveled in France and Italy in 1949 with his trusty Rolleiflex camera. In 1951, he was drafted for military service and undertook various photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France.

While in New York, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he was building up a photographic library for the company, and subsequently commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh.

In 1953, Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier’s, Look, LIFE, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines. To this day, he is for hire and continues to work for a variety of journalistic and commercial outfits.

In the late 1960s, Erwitt served as Magnum’s president for three years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s, he produced several notable documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for HBO. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum.

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Selected works


Between the Sexes

Taken from a selection of pictures from over his career, photographer Elliott Erwin examines how gender perceptions differ around the globe

Open story

From the Magnum Shop

Most Recent

Arts & Culture

Stories of the City: A Magnum exhibition on the Paris Metro

Magnum Photographers

Theme | 16 Stories

Classic Magnum

Current Exhibition
Cremona, Italy

Magnum LIFE

Magnum Photographers
Until Jun 10

Current Exhibition
Torino, Italy

L’Italia di Magnum

Magnum Photographers
Until May 21

Current Exhibition
Paris, France

Paris in Paris: Elliott Erwitt & Herbert List

Magnum Photographers
Until Apr 7

Theme | 14 Stories

Magnum at 70: What’s On

Upcoming Exhibition
London, United Kingdom

David Hurn’s Swaps

Magnum Photographers
May 18 - 21

Upcoming Exhibition
New York, USA

Early Magnum: On & In New York

Magnum Photographers
Mar 29 - Apr 28

Current Exhibition
Shrewsbury, United Kingdom

Evolution Explored

Magnum Photographers
Until Apr 23

Past Exhibition
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Magnum on Set in Sao Paulo

Magnum Photographers
Until Mar 26

Theme | 6 Stories

On Photography: Magnum Photos Now

Arts & Culture

The Magnum Gift Guide

Magnum Photographers

Past Exhibition
London, UK

Children’s World

Magnum Photographers
Until Jan 27

Past Square print

Conditions of the Heart: on Empathy and Connection in Photography

Magnum Photographers
Until Nov 4, 2016

Past Exhibition
Lucca, Italy

Magnum on Set Exhibition

Magnum Photographers
Until Nov 13, 2016

Past Exhibition
Eschborn, Germany

Magnum Contact Sheets

Magnum Photographers
Until Aug 19, 2016

Arts & Culture

The Bikini at 70

Magnum Photographers

Arts & Culture

Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best

Elliott Erwitt

Past Square print

The (More or Less) Decisive Moments

Magnum Photographers
Until Jun 11, 2016