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Surprising Portraits: Mary Ellen Mark’s Street Photography

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Mary Ellen Mark (March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015) made portraits of unfamiliar people and the well known in unfamiliar places. Her subjects exude self-possession and ease within their own skin. She said of her passion for street photography: “I just took a walk and started making contact with people and photographing them, and I thought: ‘I love this. This is what I want to do for ever.’”

Later, she added: “When it’s good and interesting it’s still that feeling of being on the street and wondering — God, I love this! — what’s going to happen next?”

 

Great Raj Kamal Circus in Upleta, India, in 1989.

Performer at Great Raj Kamal Circus in Upleta, India, 1989.

 

 “Much of life is luck. No one can choose whether he’s born into a wealthy, privileged home or born into extreme poverty. I guess I’m interested in people who haven’t had as much of a chance because they reach out more, they need more. They touch me. I do a lot of other work to support myself, but those kinds of projects are the reasons I became a photographer.”- Mary Ellen Mark, 1987 interview with Darkroom Magazine

 

New York City in 1977

Love in New York City bar, 1977

Etta James and Strappy in Riverside, California, in 1997

Etta James and Strappy – Riverside, California, 1997

Central Park, New York City, in 1967

Central Park, New York City, 1967

Marlon Brando - Apocalypse Now, Pagsanjan, Philippines, 1976

Marlon Brando on the set of Apocalypse Now, Pagsanjan, Philippines, 1976

Tiny - Seattle, Washington, in 1983

Tiny blows a bubble – Seattle, Washington, 1983

Sean Penn in his Manhattan dressing room in 1983

Sean Penn – Manhattan, 1983

Amanda and her cousin Amy in Valdese, North Carolina, in 1990

Amanda and her cousin Amy -Valdese, North Carolina, 1990

Mother Teresa at her mission, the Home for the Dying, in Calcutta, India, in 1980

Mother Teresa at the Home for the Dying, Calcutta, India, 1980

Vera Antinoro, Rhoda Camporato, and Murray Goldman at Luigi's Italian American Club in Miami, Florida, in 1993

Vera Antinoro, Rhoda Camporato, and Murray Goldman – Luigi’s Italian American Club, Miami, Florida, 1993

Ermine, Trabazon, Turkey, 1965

Ermine, Trabazon, Turkey, 1965

Via: Howard Greenberg Gallery, Washington Post

  • njguy54

    I don’t want to think about what the little kid wearing makeup and smoking a cigarette is doing these days…

    • Ellis Tomago

      Probably the exact same thing.