Great Shot: Mary Ellen Mark

Amanda and her Cousin Amy, Valdene, North Carolina, 1990 ©Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark began her art career as a painter, studying at University of Pennsylvania. She decided to take a photography class. After doing so, and with the help of a Leica, she turned to photography and more specifically, street photography. She earned a degree in photojournalism and in the mid to late 60's photographed for Look Magazine in London. Her images of London's teen heroin addicts for the article are said to have foreshadowed the rest of her career.
As an artist Mark has photographed for magazines and publications, while still photographing and documenting for herself. The image above shows her ability to warm up to the subject and allow them to do the same for her. Janis Bultman said in an interview with Mark that, "Mark has a rare gift for engaging the trust of her subjects. They reveal themselves to her sympathetic lens to an often unsettling degree, sharing their most intimate moments, as well as rage and sorrow and brittle moments of happiness." I find this statement to be true, each one of her images is an honest telling of some part of the people within it.

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