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Friday, January 29, 2010

Pictures taken by an amazing lady

My aunt, Eve Arnold, will be 98 years old in April.  For more than 50 years she was a photojournalist and professional portrait photographer, the first woman to become a partner in Magnum, the photographers' cooperative, and a life-long friend of Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom I hold to be one of the three or four best photographers of the 20th Century.  I mention all this because there are several retrospective shows of Eve's work at the moment, and some of her books are being reprinted; I'd like more people to see how good a photographer she was, and how amazing a person.  The title link of this post will take you to gallery of her photos at Magnum.  This link will take you to a portrait of her taken by Cartier-Bresson a little over 10 years ago.  Eve has a Wikipedia page, if you're interested in more about her life and works.

Eve was  hired in the 1950's to take publicity photos of Marilyn Monroe and they became friends.  Eve published a book of photographs of Monroe, and became Monroe's preferred photographer as well.  She's published a number of other books of her photographs; I highly recommend in particular "The Unretouched Woman" (unfortunately out of print, but the paperback can be found in used bookstores), whose photographs illustrate the lives and surroundings of women all over the world, and which has an introduction in which Eve talks about how she became a photographer and what her work means to her.

I haven't seen Eve in many years (she moved to England in the 1960's and has resided there since), but she has been a role model of mine since I was a teenager, not least because she encouraged me to try photography, which has remained a source of joy to me to this day.  I have been very lucky in knowing many women, some of them my relatives, who have chosen their paths to suit their own abilities and desires.  Eve is high on that list.

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