Mary Ellen Mark
|Mary Ellen Mark|
Mark with husband Martin Bell at the 2011 Look 3 photography conference
March 20, 1940|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
|Died||May 25, 2015
New York City, New York
Mary Ellen Mark (March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015) was an American photographer known for her photojournalism / documentary photography, portraiture, and advertising photography. She photographed people who were "away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes".
Mark had 18 collections of her work published, most notably Streetwise and Ward 81. Her work was exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide and widely published in Life, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, New York Times, and Vanity Fair. She was a member of Magnum Photos between 1977 and 1981. She received numerous accolades, including three Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House and the Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation.
Life and work
Mark was born and raised in Elkins Park in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and began photographing with a Box Brownie camera at age nine. She attended Cheltenham High School, where she was head cheerleader and exhibited a knack for painting and drawing. She received a BFA degree in painting and art history from the University of Pennsylvania, in 1962. After graduating she worked briefly in the Philadelphia city planning department before returning for a Masters Degree in photojournalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, which she received in 1964. The following year, Mark received a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph in Turkey for a year, from which she produced her first book, Passport (1974). While there, she also traveled to photograph England, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
In 1966 or 1967, she moved to New York City, where over the next several years she photographed demonstrations in opposition to the Vietnam War, the women's liberation movement, transvestite culture, and Times Square, developing a sensibility, according to one writer, "away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes". Her photography went on to address such social issues as homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction, and prostitution. Children are a reoccurring subject throughout much of Mark's work. She described her approach to her subjects: "I’ve always felt that children and teenagers are not "children," they’re small people. I look at them as little people and I either like them or I don’t like them. I also have an obsession with mental illness. And strange people who are outside the borders of society." Mark also said, "I’d rather pull up things from another culture that are universal, that we can all relate to….There are prostitutes all over the world. I try to show their way of life…" and that "I feel an affinity for people who haven't had the best breaks in society. What I want to do more than anything is acknowledge their existence". Mark was well known for establishing strong relationships with her subjects. For Ward 81 (1979), she lived for six weeks with the patients in the women’s security ward of Oregon State Hospital and, for Falkland Road (1981), she spent three months befriending the prostitutes who worked on a single long street in Bombay. Her project "Streets of the Lost" with writer Cheryl McCall, for Life, produced her book Streetwise (1988) and was developed into the documentary film Streetwise, directed by her husband Martin Bell and with a soundtrack by Tom Waits.
Mark was also a unit photographer on movie sets, shooting production stills for films including Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant (1969), Mike Nichols' Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) among her earliest. For Look magazine, she photographed Federico Fellini shooting his film Satyricon (1969). Mark photographed on the sets of more than 100 movies, up through at least director Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008).
Mark worked with film, using a wide range of cameras in various formats, from 35 mm, 120/220, 4×5-inch view camera, and a 20×24 Polaroid Land Camera, primarily in black and white using Kodak Tri-X film.
She published 18 books of photographs; contributed to publications including Life, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, New York Times, and Vanity Fair; and her photographs have been exhibited worldwide. Mark was transparent with the subjects of her photography about her intent to use what she saw in the world for her art, about which she has said "I just think it's important to be direct and honest with people about why you're photographing them and what you're doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul."
Mark joined Magnum Photos in 1977 and left in 1981, joining Archive Pictures and then in 1988 opened her own agency. She served as a guest juror for photography call for entries at The Center for Fine Art Photography and taught workshops at the International Center of Photography in New York, and in Mexico.
She co-wrote, and was associate producer and still photographer for the feature film American Heart (1992), starring Jeff Bridges and Edward Furlong, and directed by Martin Bell. It depicts a gruff ex-convict who struggles to get his life back on track.
- Passport. New York: Lustrum Press, 1974. ISBN 9780912810140.
- Ward 81. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979. ISBN 9780671245450. Main text by Karen Folger Jacobs, introduction by Miloš Forman.
- Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay: Photographs and Text. New York: Knopf, 1981. ISBN 9780394509877.
- Photographs of Mother Teresa's Mission of Charity in Calcutta. Carmel, CA: Friends of Photography, 1985. ISBN 9780933286436. Introduction by David Featherston.
- The Photo Essay. Photographers at Work series. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1990. ISBN 978-1-560980-03-2.
- Mary Ellen Mark: 25 Years. New York: Bulfinch, 1991. ISBN 9780821218372. Text by Marianne Fulton. Accompanied an exhibition at George Eastman House.
- Indian Circus. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993, and Japan: Takarajimasha, 1993. ISBN 9780811805315. Foreword by John Irving.
- A Cry for Help: Stories of Homelessness and Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. ISBN 9780684825939. Introduction by Andrew Cuomo, preface by Robert Coles, interviews reported by Victoria Kohn.
- Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey. New York: Aperture, 1999. ISBN 978-0-893-81880-7. Edited by Melissa Harris, afterword by Mark and with a poem each by Maya Angelou and La Shawndrea. Accompanied an exhibition by Philadelphia Museum of Art. "A broad survey of photographs taken across the United States from 1963-1999."
- Mary Ellen Mark 55. Phaidon 55 series. London: Phaidon, 2001. ISBN 978-0-714-84617-0. "A collection of both iconic and previously unpublished photographs."
- Mary Ellen Mark. Photo Poche series. Paris: Nathan, 2002. "Photographs taken between 1965 and 2001."
- Twins. New York: Aperture, 2003. ISBN 9781931788199.
- Exposure: Mary Ellen Mark: The Iconic Photographs. London: Phaidon, 2005. Hardback, 2005. ISBN 9780714844046. Paperback, 2006. ISBN 9780714846262. A retrospective. Introductions by Weston Naef and Mark, extensive captions by Mark.
- Extraordinary Child. Reykjavík: National Museum of Iceland, 2007.
- Seen Behind the Scene. London: Phaidon, 2008.
- Prom. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012. ISBN 9781606061084. "Images of high school students at their proms, photographed by Mary Ellen Mark at thirteen schools across the United States. The book includes a DVD of the film, also titled Prom, by filmmaker Martin Bell"
- Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India. Austin: University of Texas, 2014. ISBN 978-0-292-75611-3. With transcript of an interview with Mark by Melissa Harris.
- O'Hagan, Sean (27 May 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Saul, Heather (27 May 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark: Renowned documentary photographer dies aged 75". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Grimes, William (26 May 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark, Photographer Who Documented Difficult Subjects, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Dobnik, Verena (26 May 2015). "Beloved Documentary Photographer Mary Ellen Mark Dies At 75". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Lafreniere, Steve (1 July 2008). "Mary Ellen Mark". Vice. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- "Mary Ellen Mark, photographer - obituary". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Long, Andrew. "Brilliant Careers: Mary Ellen Mark", Salon, March 28, 2000
- Laurent, Olivier (May 26, 2015). "In Memoriam: Mary Ellen Mark (1940–2015)". Time. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- Chronology, Magnum Photos (London: Thames & Hudson, 2008; ISBN 978-0-500-41094-3), not paginated.
- Naef, Weston Mary Ellen Mark: Exposure (Phaidon Press, 2006), Introduction. ISBN 0-7148-4626-0; ISBN 978-0-7148-4626-2
- Crowder, Nicole (27 May 2015). "Celebrating the legacy of photographer Mary Ellen Mark, dead at age 75". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Frame, Allen "Mary Ellen Mark" BOMB Magazine Summer 1989, Retrieved July 27, 2011
- Uncited but quoted in Long, "Brilliant Careers", Salon
- Berman, Eliza (26 May 2015). "See Mary Ellen Mark’s Most Memorable Photo Essay". Time. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Shattuck, Kathryn. "Another Camera on the Set", The New York Times, December 25, 2008, plus page 1 of 7 of online slide show
- Hamilton, Peter (28 May 2015). "Remembering Mary Ellen Mark". British Journal of Photography. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Lovece, Frank. "The Real Life of Mary Ellen Mark" Take Great Pictures. October 1, 2011. Takegreatpictures.com
- Gilmour, Lucy (26 May 2015). "Remembering the Work of Mary Ellen Mark, Photography’s Fierce Poet". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- "Mary Ellen Mark - Books", Mary Ellen Mark. Accessed 1 June 2015.
- "Prom", Worldcat. Accessed 1 June 2015.
- Official website
- 'Remembering the photographer who shot Seattle’s street youth' - 2012 interview in Dazed
- Scotsman newspaper interview, June 2005
- Audio interview, The Digital Journalist, March 1999
- Art HERStory: Mary Ellen Mark