Elliott Erwitt: ‘Images is fairly easy. You simply react to what you see’ | Elliott Erwitt
Elliott Erwitt is a speechless person – but for a 92-year-old photographer to speak, just ask him about the weather. “It’s been raining in the early hours of the morning and it’s full,” he says recently, by telephone from another home in Hamptons.
He lets silence fill the air, something familiar (not surprisingly, the 2019 documentary for Erwitt is called Silence Sounds Good).
Although his work spans 70 years and has seen some of the most famous in modern history, he allows his portraits to speak. Erwitt arrested John F Kennedy at the White House, Fidel Castro in Cuba and Richard Nixon in Moscow. She shot stars like Marilyn Monroe, she was in the back with Marlene Dietrich and she got these shots because she always had a camera, a recording studio.
Now, Erwitt has teamed up with nonprofit Project Hope and charity philanthropist Phil Ropy on a campaign that has transformed one of Erwitt’s photos into a digital post to raise awareness about health services for health workers around the world.
It’s a picture that makes perfect sense for today’s plague – plastic gloves sit on a wardrobe. She was taken by Erwitt to Sicily in 1965. “Instead of underwear, she hung plastic gloves,” he says. “I just walk around town and that’s where you find things like that.”
Photo: Project Hope / Phil Ropy
Erwitt was traveling with his children and was found working. “It’s a fun place,” he recalls, “and what I did there, you just walk around, greet the explosion, things that happen all the time.”
He loves to photograph, excite and show off, but he also appears to be in the banal, shooting everything from the classroom to open roads and train stations, proving that his famous proverb is true: “The best things happen when you are somewhere with the camera.”
They have magical intelligence about them like their American flag salute covering his face in 1975, or his portrait of yorkie with his hair blown by the owner, since 1968.
But ask about his great portraits that have written political history – like his cracked picture of Jackie Kennedy crying at JFK’s funeral – and he just keeps quiet or changes the story. He only likes to talk about dogs or walk, his two passions when it comes to painting.
He remembers being in Paris in the 1950’s. “I’ve been taking pictures in a lot of places, and Paris is one of those places,” says Erwitt. “I went there often. What I love about Paris is the language and the food, that’s it.
“I was born in Paris, but I left early,” she recalls (born to Russian parents but emigrated to the United States in 1939, as a child). “I have a book about Paris, another about Rome, another in the Soviet Union, wait.”
“What do I say? Oh, all right. I’ve been there a long time. I’ve been to a lot of interesting places, tourists and the media. ”
Arlington, Virginia, November 25, 1963. Jacqueline Kennedy at the funeral of John F Kennedy. Photo: Elliott Erwitt / MAGNUM PHOTOS / Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos
Erwitt loved to be a photographer, especially in travel, when traveling. He started shooting in the 1940s before enlisting in the US military in 1950, where he took photographs of his life in a French prison, which led him to join Magnum.
“I’ve been taking a lot of photos of the trip,” he says. “I used to work for Holiday magazine, the best magazine to write, but unfortunately, most magazines are a thing of the past or are about to become.”
He changes the subject. “How are the sanctions in the UK right now?” asks Erwitt. “It was difficult for me because I had to have a book that was ready to be printed and restrictions on it.”
The upcoming book that Erwitt is talking about is called Found Not Lost, which is set to be released this winter, which will feature more than 150 people who have never seen photos in the last 60 years. The photos are self-contained, taken during a break.
“It’s a book about stories you missed,” he says. “It’s a strange name.”
At age 92, Erwitt shows no remorse. Every chance he gets, he throws: “See my upcoming show in London” and “I’ve got a book coming out”. He adds: “I have a recent book on Rome, and another on Scotland. Scotland is good. ”
Referring to the book, Elliot Erwitt’s Scotland, which has mountains, Edinburgh Castle, the owners of the zip shop, and many others, is going there in the 80’s, and recently published a book about Cuba, where he painted the sunshine.
“I went to Cuba where I did business, I met people and I have leftovers that I have not changed or published, which is what the title of this book is – things that have not been published and disappeared in the years since they were found.”
Italy. Trieste. 1949. Photo: Photographs by Elliott Erwitt / Magnum
This seems to be a recurring theme in many of his books. “You always have leftovers,” says Erwitt. He told the paper in 2008, his simple way of photographing: “Pictures are easy. You just respond to what you see, and I draw a lot of pictures.
Even now, they help too. “I’m not a fan,” she says, “I just take pictures.”
He is best known for being in Hollywood since the 1940s, after shooting for Monroe in 1956 and for the famous Truman Capote Black and White balls in the 1960s. In a recent letter, he said: “A portrait of a celebrity is a good idea because it is often published. . ” But in addition to selling idols, it may also be a feature of their work that no one has ever seen.
But he stopped this. Erwitt notes: “I am not a young person and I do not run, you just have to be quick. “I’m slower than ever.”
When asked what he loves most about life right now, Erwitt answers in his own words one answer. “People,” he says, and I just keep quiet. “People.”
“And the dogs,” he adds.
“I have several books on dogs, I’ve had a lot of dogs and I love them all, my favorite dog is the one I lived with for 15 years, until he died at the age of 17,” says Erwitt. “Let’s see, it’s hard to imagine what he was. Not a scottish terrier, but like a scotty, a cairn terrier.
She photographed her dog, who was a museum, standing on a Scottish doorstep, in a 2011 photo shoot. “She loves it so much,” he says.
Scotland. 2011. One of the 12 Scottish species, the cairn terrier. Photo: Elliott Erwitt / MAGNUM PHOTOS
He has portrayed hundreds of dogs as part of his canine series, which are of human nature; One, a chihuahua is woven into a woven sweater in the 1950’s, while others range from pomeranians to bulldogs and mutts.
Many artists look to Erwitt, an aspiring professional. The best piece he found was simple: “Keep busy,” he says.
He also said that being a sports photographer is important to keep them interested. It is a simple and easy task.
“The reality is that photography is happening all over the world, and people have to work,” says Erwitt. “Most people have a lot of work to do; it won’t be long before you get tired. ”
But photography is different, he says. “I choose, you don’t have a lot of time to do things you don’t like, in the end,” says Erwitt. “You can get up early, even if you have to make important decisions.
“That’s it, choices,” he says. “I never thought about this, so far.”