Mark Steinmetz discusses a photo from the early work of Diane Arbus.

Originally appeared in Time Lightbox

Looking through the early photographs of Diane Arbus, I am struck by the ones where Arbus goes unnoticed by her subjects. In Couple Arguing, Coney Island, NY, 1960, something is really happening. The man takes up the center of the frame while the woman floats a little behind and clings to him tightly. Without much by way of legs or arms, she could be an annoying apparition. Her mouth is wide-open in mid-yap; his is tightly shut. His face is turned away from her verbal onslaught as he tries to tune her out. His right arm is positioned as if carrying a shield (this gladiator has a cigarette instead of a sword), and his eyes seek an escape somewhere off in the distance and in the future.