Eve Arnold and Photojournalism: Capturing the Rich and the Mundane

Photo by Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold was one of the nine children of a Russian-Jewish family that immigrated to the New World because of prosecution by then-Soviet state. As her father didn't manage to find a good job, the family lived very humbly, and that was probably one of the biggest things that influenced her photography style.

After graduating school she started going to a medicine college, but later gave up on it when her boyfriend gifted her a Rolleicord camera back in 1946. She started working at a photo-finishing plant in New York and capturing shades of the growing city and its people from a social perspective, this way becoming one of the pioneering photojournalists and woman photographers. Her style was close to the one of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the co-founder of Magnum photos, which she will later join.

Photo by Eve Arnold

As one of her first photography assignments given her by Alexey Brodovitch, the director of Harper’s Bazaar, while attending the New School for Social Research, she chose to shoot a catwalk fashion event held at a deconsecrated church in Harlem, New York, which was then considered a strictly ghetto area. Before that crucial photo shoot neither her teachers nor classmates were too inspired with her portfolio, but it came to be a tipping point in her career.

Photo by Eve Arnold

Since the racial situation during that era in the United States was pretty tough, Eve's husband had to send the photos she took to London where they were published in Picture Post and landed her jobs in Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Paris-Match, Life, and Magnum photos. During the 50's she took famous pictures of Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe as well as Andy Warhol, Joan Crawford, Paul Newman, and James Cagney.

Photo by Eve Arnold

In the 60's she moved to the Great Britain where she worked for the Sunday Times, capturing the essence and peculiarities of the Brits' life, that was thought of as revolutionary because it was printed in color. However, Arnold herself liked simple black and white and believed that the photos published lately were only to attract the reader without the reference to what the photographer wanted to tell.

Photo by Eve Arnold

"It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument. If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given," she said. She wanted to show the mundane in a special way and definitely one can see that all her photos were compassionate, distinctive, and fresh.

Photo by Eve Arnold

Since Arnold was one of the first famous woman photographers in the world, she published several photo books about the life of women around the world, The Unretouched Woman and All in a Day's Work among them, featuring photos she took through her travels to the Soviet Union, China, Afghanistan, and other Asian countries.

Photo by Eve Arnold

In 1980 the American Society of Magazine Photographers gave her the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1993 she became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, was elected Master Photographer by New York's International Center of Photography, and was given an Order of the British Empire in 2003. Eve Arnolds died in 2012 in London, aged 99.

Feel inspired? Sign up as an independent photographer with KeepSnap right now, go out to snap people, use our platform to sell your photos, and earn at least 70% of the photo value. Earning your living with your passion is really easy. And completely free for photographers.


START NOW

This article contains images and excerpts the use of which have not been pre-authorized. This material is made available for purposes of analysis and critique, as well as to advance the understanding of rhetoric, politics, and visual culture.

The ‘fair use’ of such material is provided for under U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Section 107, material on this site (along with credit links and attributions to original sources) is viewable for educational and intellectual purposes. If you are interested in using any copyrighted material from this site for any reason that goes beyond ‘fair use,’ you must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.