Elliott Erwitt Shares 12 Priceless Street Photography Tips


“Photography is an art of observation – it’s about creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary. You choose a frame and then wait until the right time for something magical to come along and fill it. " - Elliott Erwitt

Photographer Elliott Erwitt was recently commissioned by luxury single malt brand, The Macallan, to capture the spirit of Scotland in the "Great Scottish Adventure." Elliott, who's known for his shrewd observational skill and subtle humorous style, came back with 158 fantastic new images, some of which you can see right here. As The Macallan states, "Shot against dramatically different backdrops in the Highlands and Islands, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Elliott captures the beauty of the perfect moment. His collection showcases the traditions and eccentricities of the Scottish people, as well as, his most loved subjects – dogs."

Even more interesting is that he shared some great street photography tips about the art of observation and on being out in the field. Here are 12 of our favorite tips interspersed within his unique photos of Scotland. Enjoy.


Photography is an Art of Observation
It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.


Start Caring
You just need to care about what's around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy. Then, you can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organising them.


Don’t Overthink It, Just Do It
The more you think about a shot, the easier it is to lose it. If you’re thinking long, you’re thinking wrong. Sometimes you just have to take the shot. When I’m in the moment, I’m not thinking at all. I’m locked in non-thought.


Carry a Camera with You at All Times
Make a point of having a camera with you wherever you go and just shoot at what interests you. You’ve got to be spontaneous and seize the moment when it presents itself.


Capture the Emotion
The best pictures are often ones that are quite evocative. They capture the emotion of a particular moment, and engage and elicit an emotional response from the person looking at them so that they build their own interpretation of the situation.


Change Direction
If you’re out and about amongst lots of people, follow the crowd for a while, then turn around 180 degrees in the exact opposite direction to change things up and introduce new perspectives. It’s always worked for me!


Be Curious
One of the main ingredients for photography is curiosity. If you’re curious enough and you get up in the morning and go out and take pictures, you're going to get more interesting results than if you stay at home.

Go the Distance
You can take two completely different shots of the same thing, just by varying the distance at which you shoot at.


Choose Your Camera Wisely
There's a profound difference for example between the simple non-reflex, direct-viewing camera (such as a range-finder Leica) and a SLR. With a reflex you tend to make the picture in the camera; with the other, you see the picture and then put a frame around it. Make sure you know your kit, so you can develop your own style and way of shooting.


Work on Seeing
Be aware of your surroundings. If you don’t have a camera with you, pretend you are a camera and blink your eye at the significant moment. That will teach you to observe. It will help you start to anticipate your subjects’ movements and learn when to press the shutter.


Get the Right Balance of Light
Balance of light is the problem, not the amount. Balance between shadows and highlights determines where the emphasis goes in the picture.

Choose Black and White
Black and white makes you concentrate on the essentials: light, story, form, emotion and information. It’s about capturing reality and the raw aesthetic, not what can be enhanced by colour. It offers a different way of looking at things.

The Macallan website

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Tags: elliott erwitt, photo, photography, tips

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Comment by Jenny Zhang on February 27, 2014 at 4:02pm

great advice with great photos! i'll have to try out some of those tips, myself.

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