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ELLIOTT ERWITT


[b. 1928] American photographer

Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy--the tone range isn't right and things like that--but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention. - Elliott Erwitt

Do what the client wants, not what you want. - Elliott Erwitt - on commercial photography

No matter how boring a job, it's a success if he's been able to get one picture for himself. - Elliott Erwitt

[Photographer needs:] creativity, style, elegance, wit and craft. [A photojournalist also needs that and] courage, stamina, cunning and luck. - Elliott Erwitt

He [Yousef Karsh] thoroughly researches his subject, knows wife's name, or man's hobby, and uses this information to the hilt. He's the ultimate flatterer. - Elliott Erwitt

After following the crowd for a while, I'd then go 180 degrees in the exact opposite direction. It always worked for me, but then again, I'm very lucky. - Elliott Erwitt - on getting a different picture.

You have to devote yourself totally to be successful at it. - Elliott Erwitt

Working myself into a position of total versatility, so that I can do anything I want to do at the time I want to do it. Whether I do it or not is another question. - Elliott Erwitt

Balance of light is the problem, not the amount. Balance between shadows and highlights determines where the emphasis goes in the picture...make sure the major light in a picture falls at right angles to the camera. - Elliott Erwitt

If you keep your cool, you'll get everything. - Elliott Erwitt

I wasn't imposing my presence on anyone,..which is very important for a would- be journalist. I stayed back. Always let people be themselves. - Elliott Erwitt

To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. - Elliott Erwitt

All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice. - Elliott Erwitt, Master Photographers – The World’s Great Photographers on their Art and Technique , Page: 91

The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words. - Elliott Erwitt, The Joy of Photographing People by Eastman Kodak Staff , ISBN: 0201116944 , Page: 14
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The work I care about is terribly simple. I observe, I try to ebtertain, but above all, I want pictures that are emotional. - Elliott Erwitt

I like things that have to do with what is real, elegant, well presented and without excessive style. In other words, just fine observetion. - Elliott Erwitt

Something catches your eye, or your interest. You attack it in some way or observe it in some way, and try to put it in some kind of form and take a picture. It's as simple as that. - Elliott Erwitt - On the Question: "What makes a good photograph?" Interview with Erwitt at http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm

Photography is a craft. Anyone can learn a craft with normal intelligence and application. To take it beyond the craft is something else. That's when magic comes in. And I don't know that there's any explanation for that. - Elliott Erwitt - On the Question: "What marks the difference between a competent photographer and a really great photographer?" Interview with Erwitt at: http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm

I don't think you can create luck. You're either lucky or you're not. I don't know if it's really luck or if it's just curiosity. I think the main ingredient, or a main ingredient for photography is curiosity. If you're curious enough and if you get up in the morning and go out and take pictures, you're likely to be more lucky than if you just stay at home. - Elliott Erwitt - On the Question: "Can you create your own luck as a photographer?" Interview with Erwitt at: http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm

My first serious camera was a Rolleiflex. I used it for quite some time, until I got tired of the square format which is not really terribly suitable to the kind of pictures that I was interested in. Also it's a camera that you don't use up to the eye but to the stomach, and I always think it's better to look at what you're photographing through your eyes rather than through your stomach. - Elliott Erwitt - Interview with Erwitt at: http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm

Being shy is quite useful to a photographer, because it gives you the opportunity of not being shy once you have the field of a camera before you. It protects you from being shy. - Elliott Erwitt - On the Question: "You were shy as a youngster. How much bearing did this have on choosing photography as a profession?" Interview with Erwitt at: http://www.milkphoto.com/elliott_converse.shtm

Good photography is not about 'Zone Printing' or any other Ansel Adams nonsense. It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic. Photography is simply a function of noticing things. Nothing more. - Elliott Erwitt

When you go out into the field with your camera, wear a jacket with big pockets, LOTS of big pockets. - Elliott Erwitt - A dynasty of Photographers, with Reverend Boris Erwitt, his father and Misha Erwitt, his son.

Now very often events are set up for photographers... The weddings are orchestrated about the photographers taking the picture, because if it hasn't been photographed it doesn't really exist. - Elliott Erwitt

If you've got no responsibility and don't have to generate a certain amount of cash each month, and can live on a shoestring, and are ambitious enough, then you might have a chance. You can be dedicated but that is no guarantee that you'll make it. I rely on a hunch, little luck, and some cunning. - Elliott Erwitt - on success.

Making pictures is a very simple act. There is no great secret in photography...schools are a bunch of crap. You just need practice and application of what you've learned. My absolute conviction is that if you are working reasonably well the only important thing is to keep shooting...it doesn't matter whether you are making money or not. Keep working, because as you go through the process of working things begin to happen. - Elliott Erwitt

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, More Joy of Photography by Eastman Kodak (Editor)
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Now very often events are set up for photographers ... The weddings are orchestrated about the photographers taking the picture, because if it hasn't been photographed it doesn't really exist. - Elliott Erwitt - in an interview

There's a profound difference between the simple non-reflex, direct-viewing camera (such as a range-finder Leica) and a SLR. With a reflex you tend to make the picture in the camera; with the other, you see the picture and then put a frame around it. The RF camera is also faster, quicker to focus, less noisy, and smaller, but these advantages are much less important than the fundamental difference. - Elliott Erwitt

I dislike landscapes. I only like people, and plastic flowers. - Elliott Erwitt

It's just seeing - at least the photography I care about. You either see or you don't see. The rest is academic. Anyone can learn how to develop. It's how you organize what you see into a picture. - Elliott Erwitt, Interviews With Master Photographers : Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Cornell Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman, Lord Snowdon, Brett Weston by James Danziger
This book is available from Amazon.com
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It's about time we started to take photography seriously and treat it as a hobby. - Elliott Erwitt

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times...I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. - Elliott Erwitt

I don't like explosions. I don't mind progress. But digital photography has made every man, woman, child and chimpanzee a photographer of sorts and consequently has numbed down the general quality of photographs.... - Elliott Erwitt - On the question: "How do you feel about the digital photography explosion?" Interview with Elliott on photoshopsupport.com
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Photoshop is useful in many ways but must NEVER be used for the altering of photographs. My assistants and my agency do whatever Photoshop work for me that may be required as it is too complicated for my brain. - Elliott Erwitt - On the question; Do you use Photoshop in your workflow? Interview with Elliott on photoshopsupport.com

I am unspecialized in a very specialized profession. Some commercial clients aren't quite sure how to take me. Some probably think I'm dead because I've been around so long. - Elliott Erwitt

A picture should be looked at - not talked about. - Elliott Erwitt

You don’t study photography, you just do it. - Elliott Erwitt

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