documentary photography

RIP Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark, a legendary photographer known for her documentary work showing the lives of people from all walks of life, passed away May 25. She has an astounding collection of work and showed compassion for those she photographed, keeping in touch with her subjects for years. Future generations of visual artists can be inspired by her - she unflinchingly captured simple moments that were complex in their emotional resonance. (see Ward 81, Streetwise and the slightly more light-hearted Prom and Twins)

Before I really learned anything about photography or notable photographers, I recall flipping through an issue of Life magazine, since that was still in print when I was a kid and my awesome parents had a subscription. This particular issue had one of her photo essays showing a week in the life of the Damm family struggling to get by, and that image of the family crammed in the car stayed in my memory. Many years later in college when when I did learn about Mary Ellen Mark, I remembered that haunting photo.