Magic of the moment with Elliott Erwitt


First thing we have to know about art – it doesn’t owe us anything. It doesn’t have to be pretty, to beautify our world, or to brighten up somebody’s dull mood. With realization of this aspect comes a chance to broaden the understanding of contemporary art and to accept it without any prejudices.
The only one thing art has to give us is another view on the world from different angles, it can show what is hidden and can create new realities.

But sometimes, it is very nice, when art grants us with something simple, benevolent, and humane.
Basically, all of the above-mentioned adjectives are describing the oeuvre of a great documentary photographer Elliott Erwitt. 


His photographs are centered around the everyday life and situations, but with a distinguished eye and humor, Erwitt’s works create incredible moments and are full of love, in the widest possible sense. 


Looking at his pictures, you almost cannot put them under the section of documentary photography. They are so accurately captured and filled with “magic of the moment”, that they do not look like documentary ones. But this is an ongoing discussion about the whole sphere of photography and whether it depicts the reality clearly, or it is a tool of the photographer’s vision, which is never fully impartial. 


As for the “magic of the moment”, it has a precise name, definition, and author. Iconic French street photographer Henri

Cartier-Bresson described it as The Decisive Moment in his theoretical work of the same name. “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” he explained in the book. 

We can say for sure that Elliott Erwitt has mastered the concept of the decisive moment. He often said that there was no particular order or purpose when he was making a photo. You just have to wonder around and try to capture “The manifestation of people, whether it’s actual people or what people do…”


And we can feel this lightness and

love of fellow-men

in his photos. Moments of human life from all over the world, moments that are political, personal, that are funny or nostalgic, humorous or intense. “I’m not a serious photographer like most of my colleagues. That is to say, I’m serious about not being serious.” said Erwitt. 


Elliott Erwitt

has an incredibly long and prosperous carrier – about 50 years for now, and he is still working. His photos will always be palpitating, because they show us the importance of being awake and keeping our eyes wide open to the


world around us; they teach us to see everything, but first of all – to see a human being and relate to all his/her joy, as well as to sadness. 

“I appreciate simplicity, true beauty that lasts over time, and a little wit and eclecticism that make life more fun.”

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