I once met Elliott Erwitt, the French born photographer, in a South Kensington hotel to discuss an advertising shoot for British Airways.
Apparently you should never meet your heroes. Au contraire.
He was totally charming, charismatic, attentive - but slightly frustrating.
Why? Because he wanted to know everything about me, about what I liked, what interested me. (We were going to talk about the shoot later apparently.)
He was incredibly curious. An unquenchable need to know.
So I had to really probe to have my questions answered (of which I had hundreds). All those iconic photos - what were the stories behind them?
Did he ask the boy to put the gun to his head - or did he just do it? Were the lovers set up or a moment of spontaneous passion?
But then straight back to me.
Curiosity drove him. Even to find out about me. He was a mere 62 when we met, and has just celebrated his 90th.
He would never stoop to taking a selfie. His gaze is 100% outward, his interest is in others, not himself.
A Magnum member since 1954, producing a body of work that has defined him as one of the great contemporary photographers. That curiosity led him to expand his repertoire to include films, commercials and documentaries. A restless spirit, always in search for something new.
If photography is about producing some indefinable magic captured in a particular moment then Erwitt has produced more than any one person is entitled to. And it is that innate curiosity that drives all gifted photographers.
It’s a trait detectable in the artists of Quintessential25. If not restless and curious about our planet (Roman, Meaghan) then explorers of the human condition (Silvia, Chris) or fascinated by their environment (Lee and Téber). Long live curious.
Paul Evans, Quintessential25