Part 4- Bibliography

Part four bibliography

Elliott Ewritt- photographer research

  • biography information

  • photograph ENGLAND. 1984. Kent.

  • photograph JAPAN. 1977. Kyoto.

  • photograph USA. Florida Keys. 1968

  • photograph- HUNGARY. Budapest. 1964.

  • photograph NICARAGUA. Managua. 1957

Photographer research: Elliott Erwitt

I came across Elliott Erwitt in the OCA brief for an exercise and really liked the look of his work so decided that I would delve into his photographic work in more depth. I had not heard of Erwitt before but I immediately knew his work of Marilyn Monroe. As Erwitt was a Magnum photographer I thought the best place to start my research would be on the Magnum website as this would be trusted source of information.

Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1948 he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research.

Erwitt traveled in France and Italy in 1949 with his trusty Rolleiflex camera. In 1951 he was drafted for military service and undertook various photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France.

While in New York, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he was building up a photographic library for the company, and subsequently commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh.

In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier’s, Look, Life, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines. To this day he is for hire and continues to work for a variety of journalistic and commercial outfits.

In the late 1960s Erwitt served as Magnum’s president for three years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s he produced several noted documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for Home Box Office. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum.

Works by Erwitt
ENGLAND. 1984. Kent.
JAPAN. 1977. Kyoto.
 USA. Florida Keys. 1968
HUNGARY. Budapest. 1964.
NICARAGUA. Managua. 1957
USA. California. 1955.
I went through his portfolio that magnum had on their website and I really like Erwitt’s approach, I noticed that he seems to only work in black and white and I think that this works well with his style of photography. Some of his images captured in the times where white and blacks were segregated and some of his work has a shock factor like the little boy with a gun to his head I assuming this is a toy gun. I also like the way he brings humor into his work which I like and he also has quite a romantic side too. I love the last photo of a couple kissing caught in a car mirror the woman looks so joyfully happy and caught up in love, its really sweet.

Frieda Kahlo, an inspiration

So after doing the last assignment on self portraiture, I was thinking about who inspired me, Frieda Kahlo has been a big inspiration through my young adult life especially in my Art and Design student days as I remember looking at her self portrait work and thinking wow shes got some eyebrows on her but as I grown I learnt a lot more about the self portrait Mexican artist. 55 out of her 145 works were self portraits when asked why she did so many of herself she replied  “Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.” I love the use of Frieda’s bright colours. Kahlo was also a subject of her off and on again partner of 10 years Nickolas Murray who took may photography portraits of her. Their affair had started in 1931, after Muray was divorced from his second wife, and shortly after Kahlo’s marriage to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. It outlived Muray’s third marriage, and Kahlo’s divorce and remarriage to Rivera, by one year, ending in 1941. They remained good friends until her death in 1954.

Frida Kahlo, 1939

Nickolas Murray- Freida Kahlo 1939

This image reminds me of a painting as it looks so gentle and the lighting is so soft almost looks surreal.

Frida with Idol

Nickolas Murray- Freida with idol

Frida with cigarette

Nickolas Murray- Freida with cigarette

I thought that I would put my take on Freida style photograph of myself.


I wanted to achieve an old feel with this image and I chose to do selective colour on the flowers in my hair and lips was so it would make the image pop. I wanted to exaggerate the amount of flowers on my head as Freida always wore flowers in her hair which is very much like myself but i don’t usually wear as many that so I felt that if I wore more it would suggest more to the ode to Freida. I also drew on a very faint mono brow and made my brows more strong and defined.


This was another I had taken but this time I felt that I wanted to keep this one quite simple in the terms of editing so I stuck with just black and white. I wanted to get an oldish look again with the black and white which is along the style I like to choose to edit with. I like to use selective colour adjustment setting in CS6 to achieve the look.

Gallery visit planning

Its been a while since I have had time to try and squeeze a gallery visit in but this time I am planning quite a special visit that I am very much looking forward too. A new exhibit had launched at the national portrait gallery in London of Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon!  

I love photography from the 1950s and this is set taken by Norman Parkinson for glamour magazine is one of my favorites and has inspired me to do artwork in the past.


I havent been to the national portrait gallery for many years the last time i went when I was 17 on a school trip when we did a tour of several different galleries from the V & A, The tate mordern and the tate along with a few others. I am hoping to make a visit within the next month or so.

Project 1: The language of photography

How we read a picture is determined by many personal and background factors. One person may look at the picture of a dog and be repulsed, another may feel affection. So there’s no such thing as a universal photographic language which can be directly understood in the same way as spoken or written language can ( although misunderstandings occur even between speakers of the same language due to different usage of the same word,double meanings ect.). When we refer to photography as a language, were speaking more about an interpretation rather than a direct translation of information. This distinction is important when were thinking bout how to read pictures.


Before you read any further look at Erwitts’s image and write some notes about how the subject matter is placed within the frame. How Has Erwitt structured this image? What do you think the image is saying? How does the structure contribute to this meaning?

Elliott Erwitt, New York 1974

When first looking at this image it looks like were are looking at a small dog with two sets of human legs but when taking an more close in depth look you can see one very tall set of dogs legs. I am not really sure what this is meant to mean to be totally honest, it could be using a rather large dog to portray a human to fool the viewer.  The composition is very well though out with the placement of the legs so a tight crop like he has used works well otherwise the back legs of the dog would have been seen and wouldn’t have worked. The placement of the subjects are quite central so are the main focu of the image, the bottom half being the foreground and the top half being the background. There seems to be connection between the dog and the large legs and the small dog and why the photographer has focused on the small dog. Could be because he is so tiny and his larger doggy friend gets noticed much more than the little dog so maybe Erwitt decided to give the little dog some attention.

Part Four – Reading photographs

Last assignment has been sent off and I am keen to get working on reading photographs as I am lagging behind a little. First thoughts on this new section is I am really quite apprehensive and thinking about the next assignment is a daunting prospect. I feel that since I started this course my writing has come on leaps and bounds but I still feel that there is room for much more improvement with expressing myself in writing which I struggle to get my point across. So I think I am going to find myself struggling through this next part but I will give it my best and you never I could surprise myself!

Assignment three

Drawing upon the examples in Part three and your own research, you can approach your self portraits however you see fit.

Keep a diary for a set period of time( at least 2 weeks). Each day write 2 or 3 pages about yourself- what you have been doing/ thinking. This can as specific or poetic as you wish.

I have had a little trouble with time keeping on this assignment as I am over due with handing it in to my tutor, this was kind of out of my control as my hard drive decided to burn out I had lost the work that I had completed for this assignment as usually i back my work up but hadn’t got round to doing it at the time and had lost what I had done so had to re do what I had done.

When first approaching this assignment I felt overwhelmed by the possibilities that could be played out within this genre of self portraits, then i realized we had to keep a diary so this meant that from what i recorded in my diary that would then lead on to which direction this assignment would take me. I didn’t want to keep a diary for too long as I felt this would be quite time consuming so thought Id just start with the 2 weeks and add to it if I needed to. A few days in to my diary keeping I thought Id start on some personal research and use that to help me along my way and to spark inspiration,


My research started off by just browsing self portraiture photographers and then I kind worked my way through on to the era of the 40’s and 50’s which is what really draws me in.

I started off with Claude Cahun, when first looking at her work I thought it was a man as she came across very masculine. Here is a link to my thoughts on her work

My nest research post covered a few artists from different eras to different styles. It started off with an unknown photographer Noel S Ozaid, I know that I should really focus my research on more popular and well known photographers but her is really powerful. My research then moved on to Sally Mann an American artist known for her black and white photographs of changing subjects from her children, to landscape to decay, But i focused on her self portrait series that she conducted whilst she was bed ridden from a terrible horse riding accident. I found sally’s work impressive with the use of an old technique of wet plates. Next was Andy Warhol! one of my favorites from my art and design days, this was a really brief look at his work as I had previously covered him and Stephen Shore back in TAOP. Hippolyte Bayard was next and I really enjoyed reading up about his life and how he was shafted by Louis Daguerre

My research then began to shift towards the 1940s- 50s and it started off by looking at Arthur Weegee, I really loved looking at his work and I really enjoyed the double exposures that he had taken of himself this was right up my street which fitted in well with the last assignment.  Bunny yeager just had to be on my list I knew of her work before hand as she was the lady who helped Betty page become as big as she was. I love bunnies self portraits as she there was always a playful element to her photographs. I also did some research on Imogen Cunningham too. I thought about researching into Vivian Maier again but have done so twice now and I felt it would get repetitive but I did watch a really good documentary about her which had me glued for the 90 minutes. I found it fascinating as there really isn’t much information on the web about her in depth about her life but this you really get an insight to what she was like.

What next?

I struggled with the diary side as I found it hard to write a lot about myself some days I was able to write more than others. In total over 15 days I managed to write 2 double sides A4 sheets of paper along with one side of an A4 sheet of paper. I guess it was not as much writing that was asked for but I felt that I wrote what I was feeling and what I had been up to should felt that this was more than enough into my boring life. After reading through what I had written there were parts of the writing that has sparked some inspiration/ ideas for my series of photographs about me.

In total I had 3 ideas that I had come up with that I could use for this self portrait assignment.

  • What makes me, on a day to day basis

This idea came about from a couple of entries into my diary that I had made about how I feel in the morning when I first get up and how I have to put on my make up and dresses to feel more like me, along with two woman talking about me in the shop about my tattoos and piercings.

diary 2

diary 1

  • My second idea- spawned from a comment that was made to me just after i had finished writing my diary and consisted of a group conversation and this conversation went on to about how i dress and how lovely my dresses where which usually pops up a lot but then it went further to do you act like a 50s housewife? which I don’t but this gave me an idea to act out my everyday life but exaggerate it in the way that people think i live my life.
  • My 3rd idea was based on an entry in my diary about johnny cash and my love for him and how much he inspires me. So thought maybe do a Gillian waring style sort of thing by acting out my inspirations in life.

I decided that in the end I would go for the 1st idea as I felt that the other 2 would end up being repetitive to the last assignment and I do not really want that. I wanted to set these out into different sets of images as i felt they worked better that way.

Set 1

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This set is I go about making myself more presentable face wise as I very rarely leave the house with no make up on as I feel really exposed and self conscious. I guess make up is a way of expressing myself too through my mood in the winter I tend to wear a much darker shade of lippy and i usually wear colours to go with the seasons.

Set 2 

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set 2

This set is exploring a few of the tattoos on my body along with piercings. I have tattoos on my back, arms, leg, feet, fingers and chest I also have my lip pierced in 3 different places along with ear stretchers. I think people judge me very quickly. I got my first lip piercing when i was 15 and my first tattoo at 18. I think people are very quick to judge me which I guess that is what comes with body art I do not feel that my body art is offensive I see it it as an extension to myself. Myself and my husband decided to get matching diamond and flowers tattoos on our fingers as we both don’t like wearing rings so thought would be a more appropriate symbol for our marriage than a ring. I experimented with editing on this set and i felt colour have the effect I was looking for and found black and white to be more visually striking and I also think it fits better as I feel with the black and white it focuses on the tattoos and I feel that is how people look at me they focus on the tattoos and piercings.

Set 3

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This set is how I express myself through clothes and accessories. Its a strange one as If I have a dress on and my hair all in rolls ect I have to have a flower in or i do not feel right everything has be as it should and I feel that without shoes, handbags, flowers and dresses I wouldn’t be able to bright and colorful and feminine and its took me while to figure out who I am and I am starting to feel comfortable in my skin thanks to being able to express myself through these gorgeous clothes.

How did it go?

Well I had my little computer incident as mentioned at the beginning which delayed me by quite a lot but I have tried to catch up as quickly as possible. I feel that this assignment has gone OK, I struggled with picking an idea as I wanted to do a pin up series of an exaggerated perception people have of me but I felt this would be too many pictures of just me and my face and that would have been quite similar to the last assignment so didn’t really want to do that. I wanted to have images of myself but not just all images of me I think this series of sets help show people what I am like and my personality through make up and clothes. I am looking forward to moving on to the next part of context and narrative and I am quite apprehensive as I have looked what the next assignment is and it worries me that have to write about one photo as I really am not good at expresses what i see and  feel through words so mixed emotions on that but I guess I shall do my best and that is all I can do.