RIP, Mary Ellen Mark

There has been no shortage of tributes over the past two days to the life and work of Mary Ellen Mark, the documentary photographer who passed away yesterday at 75. Through her extraordinary work over the past five decades, her stark but humane and dignifying images helped change the way we look at and actually see people. Few photographers and photojournalists can claim that powerful an influence. Her presence is already sorely missed.

Among the more beautifully poetic tributes I’ve read was this one by photographer Eli Reed, who joined Magnum a few years after Mark had left:

Mary Ellen could have been a very tough US Marine if she had somehow and for some reason thought to go in that direction but fortunately for the rest of us – she chose the path of being as gentle as the sweetest kiss from a Summer’s sweet breeze celebrating the coming of a sultry night.

Mary Ellen Mark was a magnificent human being who gave, through the work she produced, much more then she received and I mourn her passing. She was a special kind of a living day and night that brings to the front very beautiful mornings. Sweet dreams to her is a good thing.

At top is a brief tribute and reflection produced by Ted Forbes for his Youtube program, The Art of Photography. It’s eight minutes very well spent. And below, today’s remembrance from NPR.

And finally, spend some time browsing through her 18 published books here. Buy one for a friend. Or as a gift to yourself. I just did.

 

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