Elliott received his BA magna cum laude in 1967 from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
He has been the photography critic and arts writer for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1978 and is also the Chicago art correspondent for Artnews magazine in New York. From 1971 to 1978 he was film critic for the Chicago Daily News, and in 1976 was a staff writer for the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. He wrote features for the Chicago Daily News from 1969 to 1971.
Elliott notes that he "instigated” the role of photography critic at the Sun-Times and is now "the most frequently published writer in Chicago dealing with photography as a serious art form." He also writes about art, theater and films.