Mary Ellen Mark 1940-2015

mary ellen mark

So sad to hear of the death of photographer Mary Ellen Mark. I was always in awe of her because her images were both documents and art combined.

My introduction to Mark was with her series on Seattle street youth. While the photos of children hustling, doing drugs and basically being disassociated from and dissociating with society is disturbing, the protagonists in her work still have a voice and power. For a while, the images of Tiny inspired my fashion choices in the 1980s.

Later on, in the 1990s, I was in New York and went to the launch for her book Twins. That is the source of the photo above. I admit that I am fascinated by twins and was therefore giddy just being in a room with most of the subjects of her tome. But the real excitement was breathing the same air as Mary Ellen Mark. I was too shy to ask for a photo, but I surreptitiously took a snap of the back of her. I came across the picture again when going through the boxes and boxes of photographs. I think that’s the back of Mark in the bottom right of the frame. I’m basing this on the braids.