Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Through the Lens: Elliott Erwitt

Grace Kelly at her engagement party to Prince Rainier at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC, January, 1956.  Photo by Elliott Erwitt.

I really enjoy the work of photographer Elliott Erwitt, who at 82, is still hard at work, with everything from exhibitions to books and films.  Erwitt was mentored by the great Robert Capa (who eventually asked him to join Magnum Photos; he later became president in 1968).  He is best known for his black and white photography, and the whimsical and humorous nature of some of his photos.  Aside from his work with documentaries and every day photography, he has also taken portraits of such icons as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

An excerpt from an interview with Vanity Fair:

Can you talk about your experience being president at Magnum and how you were mentored by [Robert] Capa? I’m sure you’ve mentored a lot of young photographers—what do you look for in their work?
What I like in any -- young, old, middle-aged, doesn’t matter -- photographers is a sense that they are interested in the human comedy, you might say, [and] that the pictures are good technically—by that I mean, good composition, good content. Unfortunately, now taking pictures has become so easy that everyone on Earth who has a telephone is a photographer. Consequently the work is generally a bit shoddy, because it’s so easy.… Somehow Photoshop and the ease with which one can produce an image has degraded the quality of photography in general. Still, there are very good photographers among the masses.

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