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MARY ELLEN MARK
The difficulty with color is to go beyond the fact that it's color – to have it be not just a colorful picture but really be a picture about something. It's difficult. So often color gets caught up in color, and it becomes merly decorative. Some photographers use [ it ] brilliantly to make visual statements combining color and content; otherwise it is empty. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 5
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A good print is really essential. I want to take strong documentary photographs that are as good technically as any of the best technical photographs, and as creative as any of the best fine-art photographs. [That is doubly important because] I don't want to just be a photo essayist; I'm more interested in single images.... once that I feel are good enough to stand on their own. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 14
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I just think it's important to be direct and honest with people about why you're photographing them and what you're doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul, and I think you have to be clear about that. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 16
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I'm trying to please myself; certainly that's a big criterion... though in a sense, I don't take images just for myself. I take images that I think other people will want to see. I don't take pictures to put in a box and hide them. I want as many people to see them as possible. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 14
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[When photographing I want to reach and touch] something that I feel is at the core of people. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 11
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What's more frustrating than magazines giving less and less space is that they tell you what they want. Not LIFE, but some magazines actually want you to be an illustrator, and I don't want to be an illustrator -- I don't enjoy those assignments. You know, I want to have a change to be a real part of the creative process and not just a technician who clicks the camera. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 22
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To touch on people's lives [ in a way they ] haven't been touched on before, it´s fascianting. You know, it's one thing if [ a celebrity ] has an incredible character and you're really going to be able to delve into their personality – that's great. But you can never get real purity if people have been spoiled by the camera and don't trust you. I like feeling that I'm able to be a voice for those people who aren't famous, the people that don't have the great opportunities. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 26
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I think you have to have a real point of view that's your own. You have to tell it your way. And, I think that it's a mistake to shoot for a specific magazine's point of view because it's never going to be as good. You have to shoot for yourself and photograph [ the way] you believe it. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 26
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I think you reveal yourself by what you choose to photograph, but I prefer photographs that tell more about the subject. There's nothing much interesting to tell about me; what's interesting is the person I'm photographing, and that's what I try to show. ... I think each photographer has a point of view and a way of looking at the world... that has to do with your subject matter and how you choose to present it. What's interesting is letting people tell you about themselves in the picture. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 26-27
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I always wanted to photograph the universal subjects. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 27
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What you look for is a symbol of something in everyone's life. - Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 27
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Everyone asks me how I get my subjects to open up to me. There’s no formula to it. It’s just a matter of who you are and how you talk to people – of being yourself. Your subjects will trust you only if you’re confident about what you’re doing. They can sense that immediately. I’m really bothered by photographers who first approach a subject without a camera, try to establish a personal realationship, and only then get out their cameras. It’s deceptive. I think you should just show up with a camera, to make your intentions clear. People will either accept you or they won’t. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998. , Page: 92

Learning how to use different formats has made me a better photographer. When I started working in medium format, it made me a better 35 mm photographer. When I started working in 4x5, it made me a better medium-format photographer. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998. , Page: 92

The subject gives you the best idea of how to make a photograph. So I just wait for something to happen. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998. , Page: 92

If the background doesn’t work together with your main subject, you won’t have a good picture. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998 , Page: 88

Finding the right subject is the hardest part. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998 , Page: 92

There is only one reason I’ve stayed a photographer for so many years. Photography is always challenging. - Mary Ellen Mark - "American Photo", September/October 1998 , Page: 92

Life is really very sad or it's very funny. My images are like that - sad, funny and satirical. - Mary Ellen Mark - Vision - Lowepro 2004/2005, page 36

No, I don't think you're ever an objective observer. By making a frame you're being selective, then you edit the pictures you want published and you're being selective again. You develop a point of view that you want to express. You try to go into a situation with an open mind, but then you form an opinion, and you express it in your photographs. - Mary Ellen Mark

It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter. - Mary Ellen Mark

Photograph the world as it is. Nothing's more interesting than reality. - Mary Ellen Mark
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