Exercise on Erwitt’s New York 1974
look 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?
Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928 but relocated to the US in 1938 with his family. His trademark was depicting surreal or absurd moments in a candid style, owing much to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment.
This image is cropped so that you can’t see who the legs belong too. At first glance it looks like a couple walking a dog along a path. When you look closer you see it’s actually a human and and a large dog which contrast against the whole of the little dog. The little dog is linked to the other legs by the straight lead.
Each of the elements have a human touch, i.e the legs next to the human and the hat on the little dog. The main focus of the image is in the centre, but you scan the image from bottom to top, starting with the foreground that goes from a shallow depth of field to sharp at the feet and then up to edge of the photo and across to the bright blown out back ground. Having the image back lit really helps with highlighting the shapes of the legs. The blurred tree in the background gives the image a feeling of depth.
I really like this image, it tells a story, but leaves an element of mystery. I like that the dogs and humans have equal status in the image.