Review: Elliott Erwitt’s Kolor

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If you know the work of Elliott Erwitt, you are most likely familiar with his exhaustive body of black and white work. Whether it’s photographs of dogs, women, celebrities or beach life, his photographs reveal the world from a insightful and sometimes humorous perspective.

Elliott Erwitt’s Kolor is a 448-page book whose images were selected from nearly half a million Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides that Erwitt produced during his lengthy career as a editorial and commercial photographer. Though many of the images were created as part of commissioned work, the images also reflect the photographer’s penchant for creating images for himself, even when on assignment. The result is an alternative look at the world that Erwitt so adeptly documented in black and white.

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In fact, fans of the photographer will recognize several of the scenes showcased in the book, because they were taken moments before or after the black and white images. Though, such images can inspire comparison to their black and white siblings, you can appreciate these color photographs on their own merits.

Erwitt’s skill as a photographer has always been informed by his juxtaposition of elements within the frame. It is his keen eye to create relationships between people, places and things that have helped him to reveal the world in a unique and often humorous way. He seems especially sensitive to the things in the world the reveal the absurdity of life, but also its beauty, even under the most ordinary and mundane circumstances.

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A member of Magnum Photos, the photographer collective, where he has served as president for three terms, Erwitt is a photographer whose commercial and personal work are not easily differentiated simply by looking at them. All of his images bear the stamp of a strong singular vision.

Though the images in the book were culled before the digital age, there is much to be learned about what makes a great photograph by perusing its pages. Even without the benefit of pixels and Photoshop, one walks away with an appreciation of what great images look like and how they can be achieved consistently by having a strong and insightful point of view.

All images “Courtesy of teNeues. © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos. All rights reserved.” 

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