Sadly, one of the greatest photojournalists of our times, Eve Arnold, has recently passed away at the age of 99. Venturing as a female where women where not expected to be found before, she gave a unique contribution to photojournalism.
Eve Arnold was one of the greatest photojournalists of the 20th century. She was born in Philadelphia, 1912 – a time where women equity in society was not taken for granted. Her life plans were much different than what it turned out to be. Her family was far more supportive of her first career choice, medicine. But in 1946, this would all change when she got a Rolleicord as a gift from her boyfriend. Over six weeks in 1948, she became a pupil of the influential Alexey Brodovitch. In 1951, she was invited by Robert Capa to join Magnum Photos agency, becoming the first woman having full membership in 1957. Being a female in a male-dominated environment might have given her the upper hand at times, especially when shooting intimate portraits of people.
“It was a big plus to be a woman working in those days. Men liked to be photographed by women. It’s never been a problem. There were very few of us in the beginning and a couple of guys at Magnum were into patting me on the head, saying ‘There, there little one,’ which I found patronizing. But although I do think that women think differently and have something to offer that men don’t have, I don’t believe you can recognize the difference between women’s photographs and men’s.”
- Eve Arnold, in an interview for the British Journal of Photography -
Eve Arnold was perhaps one of the most iconic portrait photographers of our times. Much like Richard Avedon, she will be best remembered for her exceptional photographs of people – of rich and famous, as well as just anonymous faces. Through her lens, people just become people, and their facial expressions – despite how recognizable they might be – would transmute and transport us to their most intimate thoughts. Through her lens she understood the essence human nature – undoubtedly!
“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold