Elliott Erwitt captured humour in much of his photography
Erwitt was born in Paris, France, to Jewish-Russian immigrant parents, who soon moved to Italy. In 1939, when he was ten, his family migrated to the United States. He studied photography and filmmaking at Los Angeles City College and the New School for Social Research, finishing his education in 1950. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army, and discharged in 1953
Erwitt served as a photographer's assistant in the 1950s in the United States Army while stationed in France and Germany. He was influenced by meeting the famous photographers Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker. Stryker, the former Director of the Farm Security Administration's photography department, hired Erwitt to work on a photography project for the Standard Oil Company. He then began a freelance photographer career and produced work for Collier's, Look, Life and Holiday. Erwitt was invited to become a member of Magnum Photos by the founder Robert Capa.
One of the subjects Erwitt has frequently photographed in his career is dogs: they have been the subject of five of his books, Son of Bitch (1974), To the Dogs (1992), Dog Dogs (1998), Woof (2005), and Elliott Erwitt's Dogs (2008).
Erwitt has created an alter ego, the beret-wearing and pretentious "André S. Solidor" (which abbreviates to "ass") — "a contemporary artist, from one of the French colonies in the Caribbean, I forget which one" — in order to "satirise the kooky excesses of contemporary photography." His work was published in a book, The Art of André S. Solidor (2009), and exhibited in 2011 at the Paul Smith Gallery in London.
Erwitt was awarded the Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and an honorary fellowship (HonFRPS) in 2002