Elliot Erwitt, Las Vegas (1957)
Elliot Erwitt, Las Vegas (1957)

The Failsafe Gift Guide - Elliott Erwitt's Snaps

With only five shopping weekends left until Christmas we thought it would be nice to give you a hand with your gifting choices by highlighting five of our most popular books. This weekend, we kick off with one of our personal favourites, Elliott Erwitt's Snaps.

Photographer Elliott Erwitt's feel for the absurd is just one of the many things that have characterised an incredibly successful 50-year career. He's been a member of the prestigious Magnum photo agency since 1953 when he was invited to join by legendary photographer and founder of the organisation, Robert Capa. 

His unique perspective when looking at the world has lead him to produce a vast body of work that captures moments that would pass most by, or scenarios that might fleetingly spark a smile before promptly disappearing from our minds. He says his approach has always followed the philosophy of "shoot first ask questions later."

His photographs have covered everyday scenes, people, places, even pets, as well as the rich and famous. His best known photos include a heated exchange between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon in Moscow (1959) and backstage shots of actresses Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich.

Some of our favourite candid shots from Erwitt include an old woman with two melons either strategically or unfortunately positioned on a shelf in front of her, an episode of 'fisticuffs' between two smartly dressed office workers in New York and three shots recording an exchange between a hopeful man trying his luck with a passing Brazilian beauty on the beach at Buzios. "Photography is an art of observation," says Erwitt. "It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place."

All these images and many more are in _Snaps, _which contains a collection of 500 photographs taken over the course of his career.

Meanwhile, take a look through more Erwitt images by flicking through our photo gallery.

Sign up to the membership scheme for preferential treatment and very special offers on Phaidon books.