Monday, January 16, 2012

all about eve


When she was 38, Eve Arnold borrowed her boyfriend's Rolleicord camera and after a six week photographic course and under the tutelage of Alexey Brodovitch, a legend was born. Eve Arnold has always been my hero. Even before I knew anything about photography, I knew about her. She was a formidable woman; a woman in what was largely a man's world. But she didn't go on about it. Taking her camera with her, she went on the road with Malcolm X, she visited seedy brothels, she travelled to South Africa and took portraits of civil-rights protestors. All subjects that male photographers would also cover, but her black-and-white portraits have something so personal and insightful about them. She was well known for being meticulous with her preparation and you really get a feel of that when you look at her portraits of Marilyn Monroe, for example. I like her colour pictures, but I like her black-and-white portraits most of all.

Having read numerous obituaries about her this week (she died on the 6th of January, just shy of her 100th birthday), it was the stories of how she touched others that reached out to me. And these words from filmmaker Beeban Kidron really spelt it out: "She taught me how to look at pictures – for metaphor, form and truth." Looking through a book of her photos this week, I could see these three ingredients resonating in Eve Arnold's work. I could also see I still have a lot to learn. But Eve Arnold is a particular inspiration to me, because she showed that you don't have to have been born with a camera in your hand in order to take good pictures — you can come to photography later in life, provided you have a good eye. As she once put it: "It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument." Wise words indeed from a very wise woman.  Inspired by her, I have been picking up a Rollei of my own (borrowed, in my case, from my husband), loading it with black-and-white film and trying to channel her spirit.

The Rollei is a great camera for portraits, and I have been using special "close-up" lenses that let me get really close to the subject (in the image above, my daughter Ella). I've also been using a tripod. This is very different from my usual style of photography, but that is what makes it such a challenge, and such fun — trying something new. Andrea has also been experimenting with film, with a portrait of her daughter. You can't see all of her face and yet you get a feeling of the small moments becoming something bigger.

Which legendary black and white photographer do you find most inspirational? Go and look up more about them, borrow their books from the library or look at their pictures on the internet... and be inspired to try something new.

kirstin of fleeting moments

grace {25/52}

grace {25/52} by beauty_goodness_truth

18 comments:

mosey (kim) said...

Her work was staggering. She only came on my radar in the past year and a half as I immersed myself more and more in photography. I can only dream of taking photos like hers. You inspire me with your lack of fear - try something new? Why not! A wonderful post, Kirstin.

~Cara said...

oh kirstin. your photo came out incredibly and so amazingly paired with andrea's. i hadn't heard of eve and i'm excited to look into her more. thank you for the inspiration and incredible post and photos. i'm breathless!

Gilly said...

I don't know much about Eve Arnold - well, I didn't till today! - but I'm going to go and look at some of her work now. Difficult to choose a favourite black and white photographer - I suppose till the 60s/70s they mostly all did black and white by default - but I guess Andre Kertesz would come high on my list.

linda silva palleschi said...

your photo is soooo fantastic and i am inspired not only by Eve Arnold but by you and your fearlessness--thank you for your work and for shining a light on so many others, known and unknown!

Stephanie said...

Eve's work was completely out of the box for her time and look at you ...always reaching out of the box for something new. I must say this portrait is absolutely stunning. Gorgeous focus and contrasts....beautiful, beautiful work Kirstin! So inspiring!

urban muser said...

kirstin, this post is amazing. you inspire all of us with your beautiful work.

esra said...

Such an amazing post Kirstin! Beautiful words and photos. You and your work are always an inspiration. And i'm looking forward to looking into Eve Arnold's work.

Megan said...

loved reading about Eve. And your experimenting.
~nut*meg~

Laura Yurs said...

Love this tribute to Eve! I found her through you and I thank you for that! Inspiring...both of you! Fabulous capture if your daughter! Looking forward to seeing more. I just picked up a set of Diane Arbus books from the library....

Barbara Paulsen said...

Beautiful tribute. Wonderful portrait of your daughter!

Holly {Soupatraveler} said...

Gorgeous portrait Kirstin! And what a wonderful Tribute...and Eve was from Philly too! How cool is that? I love the pairing of pictures and the story behind each one. So glad your shot was ready in time!

gina said...

I hadn't heard of Eve until I read her obit. and looked at some of her images. What a talent! Thank you for this beautiful tribute to her.

Ashley Sisk said...

What a beautiful piece today - how you've been inspired, but more importantly...you inspire me.

Anna said...

Hi Kirstin,
Such a lovely tribute today to an amazing photographer! Eve serves as an inspiring figure from the past.
Your capture of Ella is stunning and has a wonderful timeless quality!
In answer to your question, since I shot landscapes and nature primarily, I've studied Ansel Adam's B&W work. I also really love some of the Victorian era work of the portraitist, Julia Cameron.

Heather ~ htekmo said...

I love this post...and the possibilities and inspiration it brings into my world.

Kat Sloma said...

I love the point of view on both of these! I agree that the photographer is the source of the image, not the camera. It's great to hear about your exploration of film with the Rollei!

SuperDewa said...

Wonderful post, Kirstin. I'm not sure who my favorite is, but Even Arnold was up there.

Jacqui. said...

Love this post & both of these images xxx

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