A Kiss Is (More Than) Just a Kiss: Elliott Erwitt’s Portraits of Intimacy

Krakow, Poland. 1964.
Elliott Erwitt—Magnum
Krakow, Poland. 1964.

Eighty-five-year-old Elliott Erwitt has photographed pretty much everything under the sun. With more than 45 books to his name, the Magnum legend’s career has spanned the beatniks, hippies, Yuppies and millennials. And while men and women outside the photography world might not recognize his name, they certainly have seen his pictures, many of which have earned the sort of iconic status that artists and craftsmen so often strive for, and so seldom attain.

To commemorate Valentine’s Day in a unique and moving way, while still paying heed to our mission of presenting exceptional photography, LightBox turned to Erwitt’s sprawling archive for inspiration — and struck gold. Sparked by his famous photograph of a necking couple reflected in a car mirror while parked on a picturesque California overlook, LightBox offers a look at some of Erwitt’s masterful images of that uniquely human expression of affection, and ardor. In the midst of public plazas and parades, in cars and kitchens and weddings, Erwitt raised his camera, clicked the shutter, and made the most quotidian of acts — the kiss — look positively divine.


Elliott Erwitt is a Magnum photographer living in New York and was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2011. LightBox has previously featured his work here and here.


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