E is for Exposure, arguably the most important thing to get right when making an image in camera. Exposure is the amount of light which reaches your camera sensor or film and is affected by shutter speed, aperture, and the ISO settings on the camera. It is a crucial part of how bright or dark your pictures appear, so it’s important to get the balance right between those three settings. Understanding the relationship between them isn’t easy when you start out, so a good tutorial can be found in here in A Beginners Guide.

E is for George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak company. Born in 1854 in Waterville, New York, he started out working in insurance, but at the age of 24 he bought a complete photography kit to take on vacation, and took a $5 course in how to use it. He never did take the vacation, instead becoming fascinated with the equipment and equally frustrated by the processes involved with wet-collodion. He made some adaptations to the process and opened a factory to produce the revised liquid which meant photographers could expose dry rather than wet plates, but the old guard were not enthusiastic. At this point he effectively invented the consumer photographic market by making a paper based film which could be rolled up in a simple ‘box’ camera. In 1888 he he introduced the pre-loaded “Kodak” camera. The customer could shoot 100 exposures and then return the whole camera to the Eastman company, the return package included prints, and a reloaded camera.

E is for Elliot Erwitt. Born in 1928 to Russian parents, he spent his childhood in Milan and then the family emigrated to the U.S in 1939. As a teenager he worked in a commercial darkroom in Hollywood and experimented with photography at Los Angeles City College. He moved to New York in 1948 and took film classes at the New School for Social Research, in exchange he did janitorial work for them. In 1949 he travelled through France and Italy with his Rolleiflex camera, before being drafted in 1951 where he served in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France and undertook various photographic duties. Whilst in New York he met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, with Stryker employing him to work for the Standard Oil Company. Here he built up a commercial library of photographs for the company and Stryker commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh. Inn 1953 he joined Magnum Photo’s and by 1960 he was the president there for 3 years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s, he produced several notable documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for HBO. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum. He’s still going strong.

He sounds a lovely man, and his pictures are wonderful, here he talks about some of his work.

“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy”

– Elliott Erwitt

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