Paying Homage to the Late Mary Ellen Mark

An American photographer known for her ability to take intimate portraits of subjects living on the edge of society. A woman who transcended social restrictions by maintaining close relationships with many of her subjects. They were often mentally ill, homeless, or sex workers, however, she captured them as humans – no different than you or I. Mary Ellen Mark, the humanist photographer known for her portraiture and documentary-esque projects, passed away yesterday at age 75.

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She indisputably changed the way photos were taken. Each photo exemplifies extreme vulnerability by both the subject and the photographer. Her affinity for the mentally ill may have seemed rather odd, yet upon seeing her work, it made sense. The intimate gaze of her creative eye allowed spectators to see something beneath the subject’s skin. When we see her photographs, we see a beating heart and warm blood, we recognize the human traits that bind us together. She worked to understand those who are typically written off, condemned to live on the outskirts of society. She shared what she found. Her eye changed the way photos are taken.

May she rest in paradise.

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