Photojournalist Eve Arnold Dies At 99

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Photographer Eve Arnold died Wednesday, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. Arnold is best known for her intimate portraits of both the rich and famous — including Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X and Joan Crawford — and of the down and out.

As Robert Capa, one of the founders of the agency Magnum Photos, once put it: Arnold's work "falls metaphorically between Marlene Dietrich's legs and the bitter lives of migratory potato pickers."

But that was a polarity — of ordinary and extraordinary subjects — that Arnold rejected in a 1990 BBC interview: "I don't see anybody as either ordinary or extraordinary," she said. "I see them simply as people in front of my lens.

"She was very, by nature, on the side of the underdog," says Brigitte Lardinois, a colleague and friend of Arnold's and co-author of the book Eve Arnold's People. "She was by nature somebody who believed that all people are equal."

Arnold was born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrant parents, but moved to London in the '60s. She was one of the first women to join Magnum Photos — then and now a renowned photo agency. Her photos appeared on the pages of Time and Life, and very often, the stories were her ideas.

"Themes recur again and again in my work," The Associated Press once quoted Arnold as saying. "I have been poor and I wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and I was obsessed with birth; I was interested in politics and I wanted to know how it affected our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women."

"She has been very important to me," Lardinois says. "Not just as a great photographer but as a fellow human being and an impressive woman."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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