Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt is one of the most prolific and legendary photographers of our time, with a career spanning over 60 years, 20 photography books, countless exhibits and several noted documentaries.
Armed with his Leica, Erwitt has traveled the world to capture humor, war and an authentic glimpse into humanity with skill and wit.
Thursday, September 22, Erwitt will discuss his life and work at The Harry Ransom Center at 7 p.m. The event is free to the public and will take place in the Jessen Auditorium at The University of Texas.
In honor of his trip to Austin, Erwitt was gracious enough answer a few of our questions:
CultureMap: How do you think documentary photography has changed from when you first started in the field?
Elliot Erwitt: Documentary photography will never change. What has changed radically is venues for it and, therefore, practitioners of the craft. It seems that the former ‘classical’ photographic essays have essentially vanished, although there is a ton of documentary photography depicting war, conflict, earthquakes, floods and other kinds of disasters. Sorely missing is the personal aspect of documentary reportage.
Sorely missing is the personal aspect of documentary reportage.
CM: What do you think of the immediacy of photography today, how everyone has cameras on their phone, they can upload a photo onto the Internet and share it with people across the world in 3 minutes?
EE: I think it is great for sending pictures of one’s children to their grandparents and for filling some idle moments. But it has to do with photography being as a pencil and a pad of paper are to writing a great novel.
CM: There is a lot of humor to some of your photographs, the dog photos and the phototoones. Is that something you have to think about or does it just come naturally?
EE: I don’t think about it while snapping the pictures. I do think about it when assembling an exhibition or laying out a book.
CM: You've been clear on your stance about digital photography and photo manipulation, do you ever use digital cameras?
EE: Only for commercial assignments when required. I still am wary of computers and all that goes with them.
CM: What has been your most memorable photograph or assignment?
EE: Hard to single out. Mostly I have been lucky to do more or less what has suited me personally and professionally. As far as memorable, I have a lousy memory.
Hear more from the celebrated photographer Thursday night. If you can't make the event The Harry Ransom Center will simultaneously broadcast the discussion on their site.