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Mary Ellen Mark
Mary Ellen Mark
|Born||(1940-03-20)March 20, 1940
|Died||May 25, 2015(2015-05-25) (aged 75)
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, 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 master's 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 of more than 100 movies including Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant (1969), Mike Nichols' Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) through to Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008). For Look magazine, she photographed Federico Fellini shooting Satyricon (1969).
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, in Mexico and at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
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.
- Photojournalism: Mary Ellen Mark and Annie Leibovitz: The Woman's Perspective. Petersons, 1974. ISBN 0822700697.
- 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.
- Streetwise. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1988. ISBN 9780812212686. Text and photographs edited by Nancy Baker, introduction by John Irving.
- The Photo Essay. Photographers at Work series. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 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.
- Portraits. Milan: Federico Motta, 1995. ISBN 8871790758. Italian-language version.
- 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.
- Undrabörn: Extraordinary Child. Reykjavík: National Museum of Iceland, 2007. ISBN 9789979790143. Foreword by Margaret Hallgrimsdottir, introduction by Mark, essay by Einar Falur Ingólfsson. Catalogue of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Photography, 8 September 2007 – 27 January 2008. Icelandic and English.
- Seen Behind the Scene. London: Phaidon, 2008. ISBN 9780714848471. Introduction by Mark, "A World Behind the Scene" and texts by Francis Ford Coppola, Helen Mirren, Alejandro González Iñárritu and others. Portraits made on film sets.
- 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.
- Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment. The Photography Workshop Series. New York: Aperture, 2015. ISBN 978-1-59711-316-8.
- Tiny: Streetwise Revisited. New York: Aperture, 2015. ISBN 978-1-59711-262-8. With an afterword by Mark, a prologue by Isabel Allende and text by John Irving.
Recognition and awards
- 1965–66: Fulbright Scholarship to take photographs in Turkey.
- 1980: First Prize, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, "Mother Teresa", Life
- 1980: Page One Award for Excellence in Journalism, The Newspaper Guild of New York, "Children of Desire", The New York Times Magazine
- 1981: First Prize, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, "Mother Teresa in Calcutta", Life Magazine
- 1982: Leica Medal of Excellence, Falkland Road
- 1984: First Prize, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, "Camp Good Times", Life
- 1985: 2nd Prize, News Feature stories, World Press Photo 1986
- 1986: The Phillipe Halsman Award for Photojournalism, American Society of Magazine Photographers
- 1987: Photographer of the Year Award, The Friends of Photography
- 1988: World Press Photo Award, for Outstanding Body of Work Throughout the Years
- 1988: George Polk Award, Photojournalism
- 1988: Distinguished Photographer's Award, Women in Photography
- 1989: The World Hunger Media Awards, Best Photojournalism, "Children of Poverty", Life
- 1990: Pictures of the Year Award for Magazine Portrait/Personality, "The Face of Rural Poverty", Fortune Magazine
- 1992: Society of Newspaper Design, Award of Excellence, Magazine Cover and Photojournalism Feature, The New York Times Magazine
- 1993: Front Page Award, The Newswomen's Club of New York, "Cree Indians" for Condé Nast Traveler
- 1994: The Professional Photographer of the Year Award, Photographic Manufacturers and Distributors Association
- 1995: Pictures of the Year, 1st Place Magazine Division, "Napping" Freelance/Life
- 1996: Pictures of the Year, 1st Place Magazine Division, for issue reporting "Damm Family"; 3rd place in Magazine division for picture essay
- 1996: Master Series Award, School of Visual Arts
- 1997: Infinity Award, International Center of Photography
- 1998: The Art Directors Club Silver Award, "El Circo"
- 1998: The Society of Publication Designers, Gold Medal Award for Design Entire Issue, "Battle of the Generations", Fast Company
- 1999: Leadership Award, International Photographic Council
- 1999: Photographic Administrators Incorporated, Award for Excellence in Photojournalism
- 2001: Cornell Capa Award, International Center of Photography
- 2003: World Press Photo Awards, First Prize in the Arts (Twins series)
- 2003: Lucie Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Photography.
- 2006: Visionary Woman Award, Moore College of Art & Design
- 2014: 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House.
- 2014: Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation.
Grants and fellowships
- 1975: United States Information Agency grant to lecture and exhibit photographs in Yugoslavia
- 1977: National Endowment for the Arts
- 1977: New York State Council for the Arts grant
- 1979–1980: National Endowment for the Arts
- 1990: National Endowment for the Arts
- 1994: John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
- 1997: Hasselblad Foundation Grant to continue work on American Odyssey
- Long, Andrew (March 28, 2000). "Brilliant Careers". Salon. Archived from the original on April 1, 2002.
- Laurent, Olivier (May 26, 2015). "In Memoriam: Mary Ellen Mark (1940–2015)". Time. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- O'Hagan, Sean (May 27, 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
- Naef, Weston Mary Ellen Mark: Exposure (Phaidon Press, 2006), Introduction. ISBN 0-7148-4626-0; ISBN 978-0-7148-4626-2
- "Mary Ellen Mark, photographer - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Crowder, Nicole (May 27, 2015). "Celebrating the legacy of photographer Mary Ellen Mark, dead at age 75". Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Frame, Allen "Mary Ellen Mark" BOMB Magazine Summer 1989, Retrieved July 27, 2011
- Uncited but quoted in Long, "Brilliant Careers", Salon
- Berman, Eliza (May 26, 2015). "See Mary Ellen Mark's Most Memorable Photo Essay". Time. Retrieved May 28, 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 (May 28, 2015). "Remembering Mary Ellen Mark". British Journal of Photography. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Lovece, Frank. "The Real Life of Mary Ellen Mark" Take Great Pictures. October 1, 2011. Takegreatpictures.com
- Chronology, Magnum Photos (London: Thames & Hudson, 2008; ISBN 978-0-500-41094-3), not paginated.
- C4fap.org Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Lafreniere, Steve (July 1, 2008). "Mary Ellen Mark". Vice. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Gilmour, Lucy (May 26, 2015). "Remembering the Work of Mary Ellen Mark, Photography's Fierce Poet". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Saul, Heather (May 27, 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark: Renowned documentary photographer dies aged 75". The Independent. London. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Grimes, William (May 26, 2015). "Mary Ellen Mark, Photographer Who Documented Difficult Subjects, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Mary Ellen Mark - Books", Mary Ellen Mark. Accessed 1 June 2015.
- "Prom", Worldcat. Accessed 1 June 2015.
- Goldberg, Vicki (July 12, 1987). "The Unflinching Eye: Photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark". The New York Times.
- "1986 Mary Ellen Mark GNS2-AK". World Press Photo. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- "Mary Ellen Mark: Man and Beast". txstate.edu. The Wittliff Collections. January 14, 2014.
- Warren, Lynne (2005). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, 3-Volume Set. Routledge. p. 1013. ISBN 9781135205430.
- "2004 Mary Ellen Mark AES1-AL". World Press Photo. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- "The Lucie Awards – Mary Ellen Mark". lucies.org. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- "Moore College of Art & Design – More about Visionary Woman Awards". moore.edu. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- "Mary Ellen Mark, 1940–2015". Art Directors Club of New York. May 26, 2015.
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