Photos of dogs? Well, yes – but through Elliott Erwitt’s lens these images document so much more than just banal motifs. He captures the moment, the feeling, the humor which can be encapsulated by photography’s immediate snapshot of reality. In Erwitt’s images, one can see the human reflexes as an underlying tone in the photos.
The dog pictures work on two levels. Dogs are simply funny when you catch them in certain situations, so some people like my pictures just because they like dogs. But dogs have human qualities, and I think my pictures have an anthropomorphic appeal. Essentially, they have nothing to do with dogs… I mean, I hope what they’re about is the human condition. But people can take them as they like.
Elliott Erwitt was born in France to Russian parents in 1928: he was then partly raised in Italy and has since resided in a number of countries. Today he lives mainly in New York. He became a member of the prestigious agency Magnum Photos in 1953, and has served as its president for three terms since 1968. Erwitt worked as a freelance photographer for Collier ‘s, Look, Life, Holiday and other magazines in the golden age of photojournalism.
Elliott Erwitt continues to be a prominent figure in documentary photography; at eighty years of age, he is still an active participant and trendsetter who manages to surprise and freeze the magic of the moment in the photograph – though not always from the angle you usually see. Erwitt believes good photos only come from the viewer’s interpretation and experiencing of the images. He is a playful photographer and his photos often draw a chuckle. Although he says he never tries to be funny, he appreciates his photos may produce this effect. Many images of dogs and their owners have been produced over the years, and he has since published the best in a number of books and displayed them in an exhibition. Dog Dogs consists of 68 black-and-white photographs taken from 1946 to 2004.