Legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt has won the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize at the Sony World Photography Awards.

(c) Elliott Erwitt/ MAGNUM PHOTOS

In a statement, released today, Sony World Photography Awards organisers said: ‘Recognised worldwide for his candid and often ironic black & white images capturing everyday life, Elliott Erwitt is a modest master who approaches both his commercial and personal work with the same wry and witty visual brilliance.’

Astrid Merget Motsenigos, creative director of the World Photography Awards Organisation, added: ‘Elliott is entirely unique and independent in every way.

‘Photography is part of his very fabric, but he also clearly separates what he calls his “hobby” from his client work.

‘To most, there will be no noticeable difference between the two.

‘That is what makes him a master.’

Erwitt, 86, once said: ‘To me, photography is an art of observation, it’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.

‘I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.’

The photographer is set to deliver a public talk to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of his work at Somerset House in London from 24 April-10 May.

Erwitt, a French-born American whose career spans 60 years, joined the famed Magnum Photos agency in 1953.

The photographer’s high-profile subjects include President Nixon and Marilyn Monroe.

The Somerset House exhibition will focus on Erwitt’s vast collection of book publications, archive prints, a digital presentation of his favourite photos, plus a selection of his films.

Erwitt will give a talk on 24 April, in conversation with his book designer Stuart Smith.

FRANCE. Paris. 1952. (MG1499).web

(c) Elliott Erwitt/ MAGNUM PHOTOS