Compare and Contrast- Elliott Erwitt, George Brassai and Annie Leibovitz

My tutor suggested that I take a look at two or three photographers and compare and contrast their work. I chose to use renowned photographers; Elliott Erwitt, George Brassai and Annie Liebovitz. I intend to compare and contrast their styles and techniques- specifically how they approach the subject to take a photograph. First let’s take a quick look at each individual photographer to gain a little background into each.

Elliott Erwitt is an advertising and documentary photographer- however during this research we are going to concentrate on the documentary aspect of his work. He was born in Paris in 1928, and travelled the world through his projects with the Magnum Photos Agency. Follow the link below to read more of my research on this photographer;

George Brassai was a Hungarian Photographer born in 1984. Like Erwitt, his photography was also based in Paris; and it was here that he flourished and became famous. His love of photography was founded by his passion for capturing the beautiful city of Paris at night. Follow the link below to read more of my research on this photographer;

Annie Leibovitz was born in Conneticut in 1949. She specialized in magazine photography; and found her name through capturing unique pictures of celebrities for the Rolling Stones Magazine. (I researched this photographer in a previous module.)

We have seen a little of the background into these three photographers. We are now going to compare and contrast their styles of work to see any similarities and differences which they may have. Firstly, we see that they all capture very intimate scenes. These photographers were not afraid to fall in love with their subjects! They certainly had a skill for making their subject’s feel at ease around the camera- this is one of the most important parts of photography in my opinion. To truly capture the personality of your subject, they need to be at ease and relaxed. All three of these photographers captured the true feeling of a scene expertly- all at different points in their career capturing a renowned photo of a kissing couple, as seen below.

Brassai; (1)


Erwitt; (2)


Leibovitz; (3)


However, we see that the method in which they capture these scenes is very different. This brings me to my next point- the varying styles of candid photography that each photographer shoots. Firsly we have Erwitt- who shoots an extremely candid style. When asked in an interview how he approaches people to capture their photos, he says; “I never ask permission. Why would anybody ask permission…that means just sticking somebody in front of a camera and say, “Look here!” and go “click, click, click”. That’s not photography.(4)”  This emphasises just how strongly Erwitt feels about candid photography. He bases his photography around real situations that he comes across in everyday life. This makes his photography much more of a talent in my opinion. Candid photography is something I am continuing to practice and improve upon- as I believe it is the strongest and most beautiful type of photography one can ever achieve. Secondly we have Brassai- who unlike Erwitt, does not capture completely candid shots, but staged ones. He sets his subjects up, puts them in a natural position, and then takes their photo. This works very effectively in creating the beautiful scenes that every photographer aspires to capture, without waiting for it to appear in everyday life; as Erwitt probably would. Brassai’s staged candid style is the style that I regularly attempt to create in my photography. This is the candid effect that I aim to achieve in my final assignment, as it enables me to suggest natural poses for my subjects, who otherwise, may not know how to pose. We then move on to Leibovitz, whose photos contain no candid style whatsoever and appear entirely staged. Her whimsical fairytale scenes are so completely radical and storybook like in appearance, that it is evident that the photographer has not just simply ‘come across the scene’. Her beautiful whimsical and dreamy photos are truly stylish and awe-inspiring! However my heart lies with the candid photography that Erwitt and Brassai capture so perfectly. See some examples of each style below;

Brassai: (5)


Erwitt: (6)


Leibovitz: (7)


(1) COMIC LIFE SKETCHES (2012), Monday Morning Museum: George Brassaï, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(2) TIME LIGHT BOX (2013), A Kiss Is (More Than) Just a Kiss: Elliott Erwitt’s Portraits of Intimacy, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(3) ARTICULOS PARA PENSAR (2013), For Love of Common Words: Scafidi – Annie Leibovitz, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(4) PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER (2009), Elliott Erwitt Interview, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(5) ATGET PHOTOGRAPHY, Brassai, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(6) BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, Harry Ramson Center acquires Elliott Erwitt’s archives, Available from:, [Accessed 26/03/13]

(7) VALLEY GIRL, Hollywood Stars pose for Annie Leibovitz’s Disney Dream Campaign Photographs, Available from: [Accessed 26/03/13]


One thought on “Compare and Contrast- Elliott Erwitt, George Brassai and Annie Leibovitz

  1. Pingback: Module Reflection and Evaluation | Hans Photography

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