If you follow the culture of photography, you’re most likely aware that Eve Arnold passed away last week at the age of 99. She was a photographer of icons and, in the 1950s, was the first female photojournalist to become part of the Magnum Photography Agency founded by such notables as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

According to one obit in the Washington Post, she “navigated distant countries and cultures, photographing horse trainers in Mongolia, factory workers in China and harem women in Dubai. Her photo essays appeared in news magazines and in the many books she compiled.”

She was most known for her work in Hollywood and in a review of Eve Arnold: Film Journal, Christopher Ondaatje of the Canadian Review of Books offers:

Grace Kelly in Monaco, imperious and impervious, barely tolerating the camera crew for a television imitation of Jacqueline Kennedy showing the White House; Simone Signoret sharing confidences; bantering with the bingeing Richard Burton, newly married to Elizabeth Taylor, on the set of Beckett in 1963; photographing the extraordinatry fight scenes between Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch in The Pumpkin Eater; tolerating a publicity-hungry Andy Warhol directing Harlot in 1964; and sparring with a fastidious John Huston, acting in and directing The Bible in 1965; all this is recounted in Miss Arnold’s Film Journal. Jean Simmons boasts, “I’m not a constipated actress anymore,” in Life at the Top; and an aging seventy-seven-year-old Charlie Chaplin looked nothing like the Little Tramp of his youth until he danced on the set of A Countess from Hong Kong. “Suddenly the world was transformed and it was magic. He was the Little Tramp all over again.”

But what most impressed me about Mrs. Arnold was that she was drawn to photography thru the simple gift of a Rollei box camera from a friend, then a six week course on basic composition at The New School for Social Research in New York.

Ms. Arnold once said,  “It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”

What shots will you take this year?

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