Eve Arnold was born in 1912 in Philadelphia. It was in 1946, when her interest in photography was sparked while working in a photofinishing plant in New York. It took her just more than six weeks to learn photography skills under Alexey Brodovitch, the art director at Harper’s Bazaar from Manhattan’s New School for Social Research.
Arnold’s photographic subjects have been iconic individuals who fashioned twentieth century’s second half, however she also documented the lives of the dispossessed and underprivileged people. For her nobody was extraordinary or ordinary, they were simply people antecedent to her lens.
She illuminated the golden age of journalistic photography when publications like Look and Life dominated over the attention of readers with impressive images by exploratory photographers, such as Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
She gained the trust of celebrities and then captured their intimate moments. This strategy helped her develop a unique understanding with Marilyn Monroe who’s images were included in a photographic book by Eve Arnold. From 1951, she had been photographing Monroe. The most memorable images of Monroe was on the set during the making of The Misfits, 1961. In 2005, some concealed photos of the actress were exhibited at the Halcyon Gallery in London. Apart from Monroe, Arnold took pictures of Malcolm X, Joan Crawford, and Queen Elizabeth II.
In the 1960s, she shifted to England from the United States with her son, Frank Arnold. She started using color in her photography sincerely while doing a job in Sunday Times.
For her photography assignments, she has travelled to South Africa, Afghanistan, Russia and China. She made two visits to China and photographed oil drillers, Mongolian horsemen and Communist officials. The trip was recorded through a book and her first individual exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1980. During the same year, the American Society of Magazine Photographers presented Eve Arnold with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Moreover, in 2010 she received another such award but this time in Cannes at the Sony World Photography Awards.
In 1993, the Royal Photographic Society made her an Honorary Fellow and the International Center of Photography in New York nominated her as the Master Photographer. Four years later, the National Media Museum appointed Arnold to their Advisory Committee as a member in West Yorkshire. In order to glorify her excellence, the lady was given the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003 by the British Government. She was given two Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Science and of Letters by University of St. Andrews in Scotland and by the Staffordshire University.
Eve Arnold produced several photo-books, such as Eve Arnold’s People (2009), Handbook (2004), Film Journal (2002), In Retrospect (1995), The Great British (1991), All in a Day’s Work (1989) Marilyn Monroe: An Appreciation (1987), Marilyn For Ever (1987), In America (1983), In China (1980), Flashback: The 50’s (1978), and The Unretouched Woman (1976).
For many years, she resided in Mayfair, Central London until she became ill and moved to a nursing home. At this time, it was not possible for Arnold to hold the camera and so she began reading books written by Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. She died in 2012 at the age of 99 in London, just months before turning 100.