Project 1: Elliott Erwitt

This exercise asks that the student looks carefully at ‘Erwitt’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 1978

Elliott Erwitt New York 1978

Leaning towards the golden selection, the subjects in Erwitt’s photograph are centrally positioned and aligned along the same plain, occupying the upper two thirds of the frame. The left, right and bottom of the image present an even area out of focus which borders the subject. I’ve included a rule of thirds overlay on the above photograph to help illustrate Erwitt’s composition.

Erwitt uses the high contrast between the subject and the surrounding area to bring the viewer on to the subject matter. This is strongly promoted by a shallow depth of field. I found that I was immediately drawn to the small dog, which happens to be the only subject which is present in it’s entirety. The left to right rhythm created by the legs is interrupted at the small dog, which further influences my gravitation toward this animal. At first glance, I did in fact think I was looking at two humans and a small dog. Erwitt cleverly exploits the use of rhythm to create the amusing double-take scenario for the viewer.

The contrast between the shiny black boots and the fur of both dogs separates man from animal, while the dog lead establishes a master. We can’t see if the large dog is on a lead or wearing clothes, while the small dog wears a lead as well as hat and coat. The small dog appears powerless wearing the ridiculous outfit, establishing the idea of an underdog. By getting down to the small dog’s level to take the picture, Erwitt allows the viewer to side with the underdog.


Erwitt E. (2016) ‘Elliott Erwitt‘ [online], available: [accessed 8 Mar 2016].

Magnum Photos (2014) ‘Elliott Erwitt‘ [online], available: [accessed 8 Mar 2016].










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