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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
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
I always wanted to photograph the universal subjects. - Mary Ellen Mark , Mary Ellen Mark : 25 Years by Marianne Fulton , ISBN: 0821218387 , Page: 27
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
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 , Page: 92
"American Photo", September/October 1998.
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 , Page: 92
"American Photo", September/October 1998.
The subject gives you the best idea of how to make a photograph. So I just wait for something to happen. - Mary Ellen Mark , Page: 92
"American Photo", September/October 1998.
If the background doesn’t work together with your main subject, you won’t have a good picture. - Mary Ellen Mark , Page: 88
"American Photo", September/October 1998
Finding the right subject is the hardest part. - Mary Ellen Mark , Page: 92
"American Photo", September/October 1998
There is only one reason I’ve stayed a photographer for so many years. Photography is always challenging. - Mary Ellen Mark , Page: 92
"American Photo", September/October 1998
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
The best advice I can give to young documentary photographers who are starting their careers is to never lose sight of their goals and to follow their hearts. - Mary Ellen Mark
From the book: Mary Ellen Mark: Exposure by Weston Naef
People often ask me what makes a great image. That's an almost impossible question to answer. Sometimes the obvious can make a great image. Sometimes a photograph works because of its subtlety or what is excluded from the frame. For me, a great image involves a combination of strong content and excellent design. - Mary Ellen Mark
From the book: Mary Ellen Mark: Exposure by Weston Naef
I like the idea of being able to capture a moment in time, a moment of reality, but all that has changed now with people being able to Photoshop images so much. You don't know what is real any more and what isn't. But I am an analog photographer and it is about capturing the moment of reality. It hasn't changed for me: I shoot film and I will continue to shoot film. I think it is more beautiful. It is the reason I became a photographer. I am not an illustrator; a lot of the digital, Photoshopped photography is what I would call illustration, not photography. With that kind of work the post-production guy is probably the most important guy in the process, not the photographer. - Mary Ellen Mark
From the book: Photo-Wisdom - Master Photographers on Their Art
In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind. - Mary Ellen Mark
If you are interested in photography because you love it and are obsessed with it, you must be self-motivated, a perfectionist, and relentless. - Mary Ellen Mark
I don’t think you can develop or learn a “way of seeing” or a “point of view.” A “way of seeing” is who you are, how you think and how you create images. It is something that is inside of you. It’s how you look at the world. - Mary Ellen Mark
A great photograph needs no explanation; it functions by suggestion. There is no need to be explicit. - Mary Ellen Mark
I go into every story thinking I’m going to fail. I think about that all the time—I think it’s going to be terrible. Every story is like the first I’ve ever done. - Mary Ellen Mark
I don’t expect to change the world with my photographs, I just want to make pictures that have substance. - Mary Ellen Mark
I don’t crop my photographs. I consider the entire frame while I’m shooting. It’s a discipline I learned when I began to photograph. - Mary Ellen Mark
I belong to a bygone era when magazines sent you out to do a thorough report. It was a more traditional kind of photography reflecting a world that didn’t want images of it to be perfect. We don’t look at the truth anymore; instead, we look at whatever reassures us. - Mary Ellen Mark
I would die if I had to be confined. I don’t want to feel that I’m missing out on experiencing as much as I can. For me, experiencing is knowing people all over the world and being able to photograph. - Mary Ellen Mark
I prefer not to think ahead about what I’m going to say with my photographs. I would rather be surprised and see what my subjects bring to the photograph. - Mary Ellen Mark
It’s important for me to be honest. The men, women, and children I photograph are straightforward with me. I have to respect them for what they are… What I look for is compassion, not pity. - Mary Ellen Mark
I want my photographs not only to be real but to portray the essence of my subjects also. In order to do that, you have to be patient. - Mary Ellen Mark
If you do great pictures it is fine art, no matter what. The galleries manipulate things, the market. If you deliberately set out to be an artist, that is the wrong way to think as a photographer. The work should be great, and that is all that is important. If people want it, and want it to put on their walls, that's great too. - Mary Ellen Mark
Photo-Wisdom - Master Photographers on Their Art
With celebrity images they often work just because it is a famous face, and it is nothing more. I want to do more. The thing with making a celebrity image is to get beyond the celebrity. - Mary Ellen Mark
Photo-Wisdom - Master Photographers on Their Art
Photographs can be enigmatic. They sometimes work because of what is included in the frame; and sometimes because of what is not. There's no formula… It's a mysterious process, an endless challenge. - Mary Ellen Mark
Photo-Wisdom - Master Photographers on Their Art