Above all, Arnold was a photographer of people — trying, as she put it, “to record the essence of a subject in the 125th part of a second”.Her subjects went far beyond the boundary of celebrity, taking in everything from American migratory potato pickers and black civil rights protesters, to new-born babies, Afghan nomads and the poverty-stricken of South Africa and the Far East.” Arnold indeed captured a freshness about Monroe that was missing from posed publicity shots.She recalled later that no one else had Monroe’s ability to use both photographer and camera, and Marilyn remained the yardstick by which she measured subjects.Throughout her long career Eve Arnold’s pictures were always marked by understanding and compassion.She never strove for effect, and in the 1950s revelled in the advantages the new reportage had over studio-bound photographers.Her work was always diverse, encompassing the cloistered world of the Brides of Christ as well as the more liberated one of Vanessa Redgrave.
After one of Malcolm X’s rallies, she found her woollen dress polka-dotted with cigarette burns from the hostile black crowd.
The lives of the celebrated and the mundane were to remain her favoured subjects.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Eve Arnold worked for magazines such as Life, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Paris-Match, photographing, among others, James Cagney, Paul Newman and Rocky Marciano.
“Lesson number one,” recalled Arnold, “pay attention to the intrusion of the camera.” In the next class, Brodovitch singled out her pictures for their freshness.
As no American magazine of the period would publish photographs of black people, Eve Arnold’s husband sent her pictures to Britain — to his friend Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post.