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All about Eve: photographer blazed a bold, beautiful trail with pictures

The celebrated photographer Eve Arnold, who was equally comfortable shooting Hollywood stars and poverty-stricken migrant workers, has died just months before her hundredth birthday.

Arnold, who was the first woman to join the prestigious Magnum Photos agency in America and delighted in "the chance for personal expression and spontaneity" photography gave her, passed away on Wednesday.

Zelda Cheatle, a curator and close friend of the photographer, who had lived in the UK for most of the last half century, said: "She was full of guts and determination and didn't suffer fools gladly. But there was a really easygoing way about her that let her subjects relax."

Among her most well-known work are the photographs of Marilyn Monroe, whom she met as a starlet in 1952 and went on to photograph until her death a decade later. Other notable subjects included Malcolm X, with whom she had "great chemistry" according to Cheatle, the Queen and Joan Crawford.

Arnold said in her book The Unretouched Woman, published in 1976: "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."

One of nine children born to Russian immigrant parents in Philadelphia, Arnold pursued photography in 1946 after she was given a Rolleicord camera by her boyfriend. She came to the attention of the Harper's Bazaar art director Alexei Brodovitch while studying at New York's New School for Social Research.

Her work photographing the potato pickers of Long Island caught the eye of Henri Cartier-Bresson and led to her first association with Magnum in 1951.

Michael Hoppen, who has displayed Eve Arnold's work at his gallery in London, said: "She was brave, incisive, technically very proficient; she always knew what she wanted, and she usually got it."

Arnold moved to the UK in 1962 and spent most of the rest of her life here.

"She understood what it was to be a human being" Mr Hoppen said.