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Saturday, 30 May 2015


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I was grateful for your coverage of Jane Bown and this continues to bring forth my gratitude for your highlighting these pieces about Mary Ellen Mark. I will invest an hour in the video of her slide presentation immediately.
Thanks again.

Mike, I knew very little about Mary Ellen Mark, although I recognized immediately some of her photographs (e.g., the California family in the car). What you've done here (and in many other occasions) is of great educational value to me. Now I know the world lost an amazing person, and I think I can even understand latent_image's comment. She could communicate what was simple, powerful truths about people, because she loved them.

I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet Mary Ellen Mark in what I considered the most unlikely of places.

Somewhere in the early 1990's I had dogs that modeled for film and television. I got a call from their agent and was asked to bring Helga the Bulldog to a studio in NYC. I had no idea what these images were being used for.

In the studio greenroom there were many children with their hyper parents. I was told to wait and would be called when needed.

The door to the studio opened and I was called to come in with a young boy in a football uniform. He and Helga were put on a platform and were told to wait. The photographer was huddled in the dark of the studio with assistants changing magazines on the 2 1/4, art directors and general hangers on. It was chaotic.

judging by the crowd of kids waiting to be photographed, they were trying to get dozens of setups on film in a very short time. It turns out this was the first campaign for the "Got Milk?" series being done with unknown child models.

At sometime during the pop, pop, pop of studio flash I heard someone ask "Mary Ellen, do you need a fresh back"? It hit me then I was in the presence of greatness doing the most mundane of jobs. I had about 2 seconds as we were being rush out to make way for the next setup to ask Ms. Mark "Why are you doing this"?

Her reply which is a cold dose of reality for many of us today, "How do you think I can afford to go to Mexico for 6 months to do what I think is important"?

A very brief interaction and she changed my perceptions of life and work forever.

Thank you Mary Ellen.

Mary Ellen Mark gave one of the Penny Stamps lectures in Ann Arbor in 2013 and was introduced by her old friend, David Turnley. It is worth watching.

I was very lucky to have taken one of Mary Ellen Mark's workshops a few years ago. She showed us lots of her work -- it was the fist time I'd seen dye sub prints, they were of her Mumbai work and the color was breathtaking. No way would I have bought a Ctein dye sub print if I hadn't seen those pictures in person. But the most memorable part of the workshop, for me, was the portfolio review. There were about ten of us, I think, people of various ages, professions and skill levels. Most of us showed ten or twenty pictures neatly arranged and printed. One member of the group dropped about 100 prints of varying sizes, styles, quality and subject matter on the table and I thought -- how ridiculously rude, given the situation, ten people, limited time, and we paid for this. Mary Ellen did not miss a beat. It took her about one minute of sorting and shuffling to find a pattern in what that guy was up to. The way she made sense of what to me was chaos was incredible. She was kind and encouraging to me but the one person whose work struck her the most was Stacy Leigh. NSFW warning: http://www.stacytheartist.com/
I'm sure Mary Ellen was struck by the complicated social statement those pictures make, about Americans, the age we're in, as well as the photographer.

Sadly, the Ryecast video will not play on the IPad Mini.

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