Hello. I wanted to devote this day to Mary Ellen Mark. She was a rare photographer, uncompromising and deeply generous. I went on her website and it’s one of the best I’ve seen. We couldn’t have done a better job. And then I received this article and a text by Harold Feinstein, her professor a long time ago. Mary Ellen looks beautiful in these photographs. That’s how she’ll be remembered. At least, that’s how I’ll remember her.
“I was deeply saddened to hear the news yesterday about the passing of Mary Ellen Mark
at the age of 75. Her deeply empathic and insightful photographs of people from all walks of life and many parts of the world will serve as a lasting legacy to one of the truly greats photographers within the social humanist tradition. She was in every way a deeply humane and eternally caring person and photographer. She died of a rare blood condition called Myelodysplastic syndrome, which I only know anything about because my wife’s mother, Betty Thompson, had the same condition. Fortunately she was able to live quite well until she died. I hope the same was true for Mary Ellen.
I met Mary Ellen in 1960 when I was teaching at the Annenberg School of Communications in Philadelphia. She was a student at the time, and already a wonderful artist. When I heard the news of her passing yesterday my studio manager went hunting for some contact sheets from a photo shoot I did of her after we became friends. I chose these to scan and share and add to the many photos and remembrances that are sure to follow in the coming days. The two portraits bring out both the light-hearted and serious sides of the 20 year old Mary Ellen. Her vibrant energy was a sign of what was yet to come in her photography.
She will be sorely missed and greatly appreciated for her remarkable and original vision, and her courageous commitment to giving a voice, through her photographs, to those suffering from cruel injustices in all parts of the world. Her work was and is, a mirror for her own beauty. We are all grateful.”
– Harold Feinstein