Rubinstein was born in Buenos Aires where her mother, the ballerina Nela Młynarska, was accompanying her father, the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, on a concert tour of South America.
She was raised in Paris where she began to train as a ballet dancer at the age of five. In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, the family moved to the United States where Eva Rubinstein received American citizenship in 1946. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, California, and studied drama at the University of California, Los Angeles.
From 1953, she worked as a dancer and actress in New York, appearing in the original production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”. In 1956, she married William Sloane Coffin and gave birth to three children, Amy, Alexander and David. The marriage ended in divorce in 1968.
In 1967, Rubinstein became seriously interested in photography, benefitting from workshops with Lisette Model and Diane Arbus. In addition to her work as a photojournalist, she has taken more intimate photographs of people, including nudes, and of (often empty) interiors. In an interview with Frank Horvat, she explained she had always shown great respect for the people she photographed, never wishing to intrude.
She has also led workshops at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan (1972) and at Manhattanville College, among many other venues in the US and Europe. Purchase, New York, (1974-1975).