Elliott Erwitt

Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928, spending his childhood in Milan, then emigrating to the United States with his family in 1939. As a teenager he lived in Hollywood and developed an interest in photography. He worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. Erwitt moved to New York in 1948 and took film classes in exchange for janitorial work at the New School for Social Research. In 1949 Erwitt traveled in France and Italy with a Rolleiflex camera. He was drafted for military service in 1951 and took on different photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France. Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker while in New York. Stryker first hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, and also commissioned him to photograph the city of Pittsburgh. In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier’s, Look, Life, Holiday, and other illustrated magazines.