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Elizabeth Taylor

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If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”—Eve Arnold

Photographer Eve Arnold, who died Thursday morning at the age of 99, is probably best remembered for her celebrity photographs of Marilyn Monroe, made over the span of a decade from the early 1950s to those taken on the set of the movie star’s final film, The Misfits. But Arnold also traveled the world to make equally exceptional photographs of the poor and disposed.

Arnold, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1912. In the late 1940’s, she studied photography—alongside Richard Avedon—under inspirational art director Alexei Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research in New York. Her first photo story documented African-American fashion shows in Harlem and the project would lead directly to her being granted unprecedented access by Malcom X to document the Black Muslims and the way they worked over the next two years.

In the early 1950’s, she began working for the photo news publications of the day, first for Picture Post, then Time and Life magazines. And in 1957 she became the first woman photographer to join Magnum Photos.

She will perhaps be best remembered for her exceptional photographs of people: the famous, politicians, musicians, artists —among them Malcolm X, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Jacqueline Kennedy and Monroe. “I look for a sense of reality with everything I did,” she once said. “I didn’t work in a studio, I didn’t light anything. I found a way of working which pleased me because I didn’t have to frighten people with heavy equipment, it was that little black box and me”

But it is the long term reportage stories that drove Arnold’s curiosity and passion. She traveled extensively to make work on regions that had been off limits to the west—to China, Mongolia, the Soviet Union, and also to Cuba, South Africa and Afghanistan. In 1971 she made a film, Women Behind the Veil, going inside Arabian harems and hammams.

Arnold continued to work for respected publications, most notably the Sunday Times color supplement. In 2003 she was honored with an OBE in recognition for her services to photography. Her work is renowned for its intimacy. Whether photographing celebrity or the everyday, Arnold’s portraits are magical, memorable and enduring.


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Whether it’s a time of happiness or sadness, celebration or condolence, pictures capture the essence of a moment in time and preserve it, so we can look back and recall — if only for a second — how that moment made us feel.

For this reason, photographs tend to elicit strong reactions. And for the picture-holder, these mementos are also deeply personal, representing a life left behind, a new beginning, or a rest stop in our fast-paced lives.

Here, LightBox curates a crop of images that give us a glimpse into others’ memories. These are photos of photos — a nostalgic, if not somewhat contemplative look into a world within a world, where blissful instants are lost among a sea of uncertainty, and moments from the past are frozen in the present, stark in the contrast between then and now.

Some of the most emblematic photos of photos from the past year came from Japan, as family portraits smiled up from among the post-tsunami dust and debris. The photographs pictured are reminiscent of lives that were lost — either by death or through the sheer magnitude of this disaster — with only the vast unknown remaining.

In Libya, photos of burning, destructed images of Muammar Gaddafi diverged from framed pictures of the fallen dictator that were constantly brandished by his supporters. Back in the U.S., photos of lost loved ones were posted alongside their names at the 9/11 Memorial, in New York City, in a tribute to people who will never be forgotten. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, mourners paid their respects to actress Elizabeth Taylor by surrounding her picture with flowers on her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star.

These photos of photos leave us reminiscing about those pictured, and what their lives must have been like before everything changed. But even the tattered remains of photographs can’t erase what lies in the mind, where memories flourish undisturbed and these moments are never forgotten. —Erin Skarda


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James Dean


Frank Sinatra


Anita Ekberg


Marlon Brando


Lauren Bacall with Humphrey and Stephen Bogart


Rock Hudson


Frank Sinatra


Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer


John Ford


Anita Ekberg


Tony Curtis


Jean Simmons


John Wayne


Frank Sinatra


Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.


Robert Blake, John Forsythe, and Scott Wilson


Lauren Bacall with Humphrey and Stephen Bogart


Gregory Peck


Jack Lemmon


Marilyn Monroe and Jack Benny


Richard Nixon and Gina Lollobrigida


John Wayne


Alfred Hitchcock


Sophia Loren


Frank Sinatra


Sidney Poiter, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jack Lemmon


Humphrey Bogart with his daughter, Leslie


Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.


Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer


Audrey Hepburn


Frank Sinatra, Pat Lawford, and John F. Kennedy


Ella Fitzgerald


Marilyn Monroe


Lauren Bacall and Leslie Bogart


Frank Sinatra


Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy


Bogie and Stephen visiting Betty on the set of "Blood Alley"


James Dean


Alfred Hitchcock


Anita Ekberg


Elizabeth Taylor


Sam Goldwyn


Rita Moreno


Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday


James Dean


Sarah Vaughan


Bette Davis


Billie Holiday


Frank Sinatra


Frank Sinatra

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The smell of fixer is one of my oldest memories of photography and my dad’s Nikon SP and the black Besseler enlarger would eventually become part of my own path into photography. Robert Levin was a writer at heart, and didn’t flatter himself with comparisons to the pros of the day, who happened also to be his professional associates and friends, but took some pleasure in his creations. As an editor, he assigned Henri Cartier-Bresson to photograph Dr. Anthony Pisicano, a local Long Beach pediatrician, and the Frenchman visited or house. Weegee passed by the house once, and Life’s Bill Ray photographed our family for a Life Magazine. Bob’s photography books were among my earliest photographic influences, although the truth is that I came to photography in my 20’s, and that his friendship with Howard Chapnick of Black Star, who also lived in Long Beach, was a major door-opener for me.

When my father passed away in the early 70’s I was given two large boxes by his secretary at Redbook Magazine, containing thousands ofj prints, negatives and personal papers from his childhood in the Bronx, where he attended Dewitt Clinton High School amd eventually the City University of New York and then Columbia. Like many of the upwardly mobile Jewish families living in the Bronx, the Levins had begun a slow migration to Long Island. For Alfred and Frances Levin and their two boys, Long Beach was the preferred summertime residence. Alfred was a jewelry salesman, first travelling in the South and than opening up his own business in the Jewelry Exchange on 47th Street. America was both affluent and expanding, and young adults were mobile and interested in things like Kodak Brownie cameras, which were extremely popular and easy to use, and made photography available to the growing American middle class. The first section of pictures taken in Long Beach, of Bob and his friends were made with one of them.

Robert served in the military during World War II as a writer for Stars and Stripes, the army’s newspaper. But he returned to Europe after the war with my mother, Martha, and spent a year, writing and photographing extensively, this time with a black Rollei twin lens reflex camera. These photographs are among most interesting, moody still-lifes and landscapes, often inspired, or so she jokingly insisted, by the direction of my mother, who had studied art history, and considered herself to have the finer eye of the two. In fact, she took full credit for his ability with the camera.

After returning to New York, Robert freelanced as a writer for men’s magazines like Pageant and Coronet, writing detective stories and doing interviews with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. The young couple lived in Long Beach in a rented apartment, and looked foward to a bright future in a country of expanding opportunity. I was born in New York City in 1950, and with my sister Peri followed two years later Before settling in and buying a house with a GI Loan, my parents decided to return to Europe, and the four of us we sailed off to France pn the Liberte. We lived in England, France, Spain and Italy, and my dad continued to freelance for the men’s magazines. typing off manuscripts and mailing them off to his editors in New York. By this time he had purchased a Nikon 35mm camera which had become the rage in photography and was aware of the work of Cartier-Bresson, as he was of the progressive writers like Jean-Paul Satre, and of course the American Henry Miller, and in our little family he had a opportunity to document what was a very idyllic and transformational time. He liked street photography, but some of the most compelling images are clearly of his own family. I don’t remember him posing any pictures, he was definitely a bit of a lurker. He rolled his own film, and developed much of it in a portable darkroom.

The family returned to Long Island so that I could begin school. We bought a Levitt house in Long Beach, and eventually Bob would take an editorial position in Manhattan at Redbook Magazine and commuted by train or car from Long Beach. The photographs from this time period are less candid and more representative of special events, a school play or graduation, or a family gathering. Eventually he was able to purchase a larger home in nearby Lido Beach very close to the water and it is here that the photographs tapered off. A divorce, a new life in Manhattan, made photography more of an afterthought, and less of a passion. There was less time, and certainly much less time for the family on Long Island.
What has become clear to me, is that the camera and the photographs of the family represented a vision of what family life was supposed to be, rather than the reality of what it was, or what perhaps what my father was.

My own career as a photography, if you could call it a career, has roots in the work of my father’s pictures. My comfort about the camera, came directly as a result of its presence as an indicator of love. I started with the Nikon SP that was used for all of his European work, although by this time the SLR had become the magazine photographer’s workhorse, and I quickly gravitated to the newer cameras, for better or worse, and the eventual assignments that took me all over the world and allowed me more success than I ever thought possible as a professional photographer.

But looking back at my father’s pictures, what impresses me most is that some of the most meaningful images that we can take are of things that are of our families, our friends, our communities, and the moments of our lives that are worth preserving. All photographs are proof that something happened and a way to mark our time as we live our days, one at a time. The increased volume of images, from cell-phone cameras, digital SLRS and the like as easy to use as they are, doesn’t really change the reason for using a camera. And I can only wonder what the children of today will see forty years from now when looking back
at the images taken by their parents. Will they be nostalgic for the 2010s? Probably so,

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