Mary Ellen Mark


Mary Ellen Mark in 1996. Portrait by Michael O'Brien
Mary Ellen Mark in 1996. Portrait by Michael O’Brien

Mary Ellen Mark was one of the world’s most admired photographers, always bringing a compassionate eye to her heavy work. The great art critic Robert Hughes described Mark’s work as among the most “delicately shaded studies of vulnerability every set on film.” Her photos invite viewers to see people without judgment, and encourage the pursuit of finding beauty in those whom we might overlook or from whom we might look away.

Mary Ellen Mark began her career with magazines like Life, taking a storytelling, photo journalism approach to difficult material. She has since published eighteen books including Passport (Lustrum Press, 1974), Ward 81 (Simon & Schuster, 1979), Falkland Road (Knopf, 1981), Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity in Calcutta (Friends of Photography, 1985), The Photo Essay: Photographers at work (A Smithsonian series), Streetwise (second printing, Aperture, 1992), Mary Ellen Mark: 25 Years (Bulfinch, 1991), Indian Circus,(Chronicle, 1993 and Takarajimasha Inc., 1993), Portraits (Motta Fotografica, 1995 and Smithsonian, 1997), A Cry for Help (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey (Aperture, 1999), Mary Ellen Mark 55 (Phaidon, 2001), Photo Poche: Mary Ellen Mark (Nathan, 2002), Twins (Aperture, 2003), Exposure (Phaidon, 2005), Extraordinary Child (The National Museum of Iceland, 2007), Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon, 2009), Prom (Getty, 2012) and Man and Beast (University of Texas Press, 2014). Mark’s photographs have been exhibited worldwide.

Her latest book, “Tiny: Streetwise Revisited,” returns to the main character in the book “Streetwise,” one of several homeless Seattle youths she photographed in the early 1980s. This is her final published work, as she passed away on May 25, 2015.