Eliot Elisofon began his career as a commercial and fashion photographer. By the late 1930s he was teaching at the New School for Social Research in New York and was a member and later president of the Photo League. He traveled the country as a freelance photojournalist and captured images of the devastating effects of the Depression.
In 1937 Elisofon sold his first images to LIFE Magazine, and in 1942 he joined the staff as photographer and war correspondent. He accompanied General George S. Patton on the Tunisian campaign in North Africa and later documented the war in Scandinavia and the Japanese surrender of Wake Island in 1945.
Elisofon's later work included a series of photographic surveys in the Andes, the South Pacific, Africa, and Japan. He earned a reputation as an accomplished technician and light designer through his groundbreaking innovations in color photography. He also became an accomplished painter and collector of African and Asian tribal art, and was the author of books on a variety of subjects including African and Asian art and sculpture, the Nile, Java, Hollywood homes, and cooking.
Elisofon remained on LIFE's staff until 1964, when he returned to freelance work and began producing independent film projects.