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Friday, 29 May 2015


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An absolute master. Farewell. Thank you.

Her ability to intimately connect was not only evident in her grittier work. It is also evident in the rest of her work. In fact, I think my favorite of her photographs is her portrait of the elephant tender with his elephant. His chest is puffed out and his face radiates pride at being in "control" of such a large beast, but the look in the elephant's eye says it all about who is really in charge there. This is a "decisive moment" that could never have been captured if Mark had not established trust with this man. I wish I had signed up for one of her workshops--I somehow didn't get around to it. I will miss her.

Mike: A very good obit for one of the medium's best practitioners ever.

Following news of her death, I saw Mary Ellen Mark referred to in one article as a "street photographer." To me street photography is characterized by anonymity. Mark's work was always about connection and intimacy...just the opposite. She had few equals.

Cheers Mike,

Ms. Mark's unique body of work speaks for itself of course, and one of her subjects--"Rat" of the Life photo above--offers a fair deal of insight into her as a person, one who cared deeply for her subjects.

“She was not only a great photographer but an awesome influence on anyone’s life,” said Rich. “She took all of us in like family. She never judged who we were or what we did. Anyone she touched, you can bet their life was changed in some way.”


A great loss to us all but her work, I suspect, will resonate long beyond her time and ours.

Fresh breath from Mary Ellen herself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDB3nhEw-qA

rip mem

cheers, dennis

I remember being amazed when the Life article, and later Streetwise, came out, and in particular by Mary Ellen's ability to connect with the street kids that used to hang out around the donut shop at 1st & Pike. My evening bus stop was down the block from it, and they were a tough crowd. The American Photo website (itself all that's left of what was a good magazine) is re-running an interview they did with her and Martin in which they talk about how they were able to do it.

It's tough to lose someone with such talent, and who was actually enthusiastic about doing that kind of photography.

I first became aware of Mary Ellen Mark when I got a copy of the book A Day In The Life of China published in 1989. She had a four page section that depicted life in a mental hospital in Chongqing and I was just taken with how much dignity and respect she photographed those people with. Since then I've acquired a few other books by her that have shown me that documentary photography is at its most powerful when it captures the humanity and dignity of those it tells us about.

I watched the film Everybody Street, in which she featured, and the next day I read her obituary in PDN . I felt that the world had lost not just a great documentary photographer but a great and compassionate person.

To me, the most interesting fact coming out of all her obits and interviews is that she sadly states she can no longer make a living from her documentary photography -- nobody is interested.


She was extraordinarily courageous, and her work is deeply compelling. Thanks for pointing her out to me.

Gosh, she was so beautiful. In every way.

One of my favorites for a very long time: she was my generation. She shows you the potential power of journalism.

But about the book -- I have a paper copy of Streetwise, produced by Aperture. I assume there's a hard cover that might be rare, but there must later editions (like mine) that mortals could still buy? Yes?

The picture Jim Hughes posted here is one of the most wonderful I've ever seen. Thank you, Jim - and thank you Mike, for another excellent article.
R. I. P., Mary Ellen Mark.

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