The World in Black & White
Mary Ellen Mark
Photographer Q & A
Describe the moment or event that inspired your decision to become a photographer.
I realized I wanted to be a photographer when I first photographed on the street as a graduate student at the Annenberg School for Communication. I immediately loved the interaction with people. Looking into their lives was fascinating to me.
What is your favorite photography tip to share with other photographers?
Follow your dreams.
Favorite photography book and why?
That's an impossible question... The first book that I saw when I decided to become a photographer was The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson. His ability to combine great content with great graphics still amazes me.
Most unusual item you keep in your camera bag?
My keychain, which is enormous.
What's the best advice you ever received from a fellow photographer?
Be original. This wasn't from a fellow photographer. It was from Edward Steichen when I brought some photographs to show him at MoMA. He said, "You can be inspired by others, but take your own pictures."
Name a geographical place that you'd love to return to or go to for an assignment.
I always love to return to India.
What photography project or assignment has been most meaningful for you and why?
Each project is different and meaningful in its own way. The most recent project I completed is "Prom." I spent years on it and it's being published soon.
If you could publish a book on any photographic subject, what would it be?
I'd love to travel around the world and photograph circuses in different countries. I've always wanted to do that.
What's in your camera bag right now?
It's empty at the moment... I'm about to pack it for a trip to Australia.
Visit Mary Ellen Mark's web site for more information on her recent work, gallery, upcoming workshops, lectures and much more. Get details on the 2012 launch of Prom, the book and film collaboration between Mark and Martin Bell, at the Greene House Studio site: www.greenehousestudio.com
Mary Ellen Mark's Lowepro gear includes:
A legend of contemporary documentary photography, Mary Ellen Mark has received major awards, fellowships and honorary doctorates for her unforgettable contributions to the art of photography and her evocative images—everything from Mother Teresa to small-town Texas rodeos to the American tradition of the high school prom. She has published more than a dozen influential books, including Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing on Set and the upcoming 2012 release of Prom (paired with a documentary film by her husband, filmmaker Martin Bell). Her work is showcased in permanent collections of museums and galleries around the world.