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Mary Ellen Mark
1940 03 20
2015 05 25
"Reality is always extraordinary."
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.
Wikipadia, last update 2023.03.15.
PHOTOS: The Essence Of Mary Ellen Mark, The Invisible Made Visible
By Richard L. Harris
It's been five years since filmmaker Martin Bell lost his wife and professional partner, documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark.
From the time she first picked up a Brownie Box camera at age 9 until she received a Masters in photojournalism at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School, Mark became increasingly smitten with the storytelling power of a well-framed photograph — her subjects of choice: people rarely depicted in the cultural zeitgeist. "Mary Ellen could see a story in the ordinary that you might just walk by and not even see," Bell says. "And she had the ability to reduce that story, as simple or complex as it was, to a single frame."
Bell is unsure whether it was a labor of love or act of madness (or perhaps a little of both), but immediately after Mark's death, he began the daunting task of sifting through all of her contact sheets and Kodachrome slides — more than two million images —representing her life's work. "Nobody in their right mind would take on this task," says Bell. The mission was to cull the frames down for a retrospective book that would be true to the photographic trail she blazed around the globe.
For the better part of four years, Bell, along with Meredith Lue and Julia Bezgin, who run Mary Ellen Mark's photo library and studio, distilled Mark's brilliant career down to 515 plates: photographs shot over more than a half-century, from 1963 to a month before her death in 2015. Mark's lenses captured recurring interests — the Indian circus, the Twins Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, growing up in America and often, faces of people on the margins of society we too often ignore. The essence of Mary Ellen Mark's work now fills three coffee table books, 850 pages total, weighing in at more than 16 pounds and boxed as The Book of Everything (Steidl).
When he opened the door to greet Mary Ellen Mark in 1992, Clayton Moore was wearing a mask and never took it off during a shoot for Mark's photo essay on old cowboys. Moore was, after all, the Lone Ranger, and stayed the Lone Ranger in personal appearances for 40 years after the hit television series ended in 1957.
"I photographed him at his home. It was a modern house, but he still lived the part of the Lone Ranger. He insisted on wearing his famous mask for all the pictures. I had to do everything I could to make him feel at ease with my camera and me, because he was extremely paranoid. When I was finished photographing him, he insisted that I sign all kinds of papers. As I left, I told him how much I enjoyed meeting him and that I was a big fan. He said to me, 'if you're such a big fan ... what was the name of my horse?' I said, 'Trigger.' He looked at me in a very scornful way. I quickly realized that I had made a serious blunder. Trigger was Roy Rogers's horse; Silver was the Lone Ranger's horse. I'm sure he never forgave me."
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