Mary Ellen Mark: My photo homegirl

Okay, it’s totally stupid of me to refer to Mary Ellen Mark, one of the most amazing photographers EVER, as my “homegirl,” but I do feel quite connected to this amazing woman whose work has inspired me on every level as a photographer and person in a complicated world full of interesting people and situations.

As a portraitist, everything I feel about my subjects, whether they be babies or octogenarians, comes out of respect for their place on this earth and my responsibility to photograph them beautifully.  Mary Ellen Mark, one of my first photographic heroines, says it best:
“The common threads of humanity exist in all of us – love, hate, humor, tragedy, sadness, envy, greed. The important thing is to see the humanity in everybody.”

Mary Ellen Mark

 

 

She photographed all sorts of people and events, of course, but even a wedding shot from Candice Bergen and Louis Malle’s 1980 wedding has her trademark timelessness and beautiful imperfection:

 

It’s crazy how the nature and composition of her images have stuck with me over the years.  Check out this image from a wedding I shot a few months ago…

 

Not that I would ever imply that she and I are in the same league, but you can see what I mean…
There’s tons and tons written about Mary Ellen Mark and she has had an incredibly prolific career full of haunting and moving portraits that have inspired thousands of photographers (and other sorts of folks, I’m sure.)  Here’s a nice link to the good folks at Kodak where you can learn more about her and lots of
other great photographers (not me, yet.)
Keep up the good work, ya’ll.  I’ll put up some new photos (mine, I guess) soon.
-Jess
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