Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents. He 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. Erwitt 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.
Elliott Erwitt worked in advertising and documentary photography and developed a style known for his black and white candid photos of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings. He has been a Member of Magnum Photos since 1954.
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.