A stunning display of the state of the art, from fashion to photojournalism to fine art.
May/June 2003
Art Director: Deborah Mauro
Making up "best of" lists of any kind is a specious undertaking. There are plenty of reasons -we could list them- that the editors of American Photo should not have put together this compilation of 25 important photographers. It is certainly a subjective exercise, so anyone who wishes may disagree with our choices, and we'll expect your letters and e-mails shortly. But before you write, be clear on our criteria: This is not necessarily a "power" list of movers and shakers in the photo industry, nor is it a list of photographers who have historically influenced and forever altered the art. It is rather an impressionistic list of the women and men who are, right now, the most demanded and artistically demanding photographers in the business. Some are enduring masters whose importance in photography has been apparent for years, and some are relative newcomers whose influence will be felt for years to come. In making the list, we looked at photographers whose careers in art, advertising, fashion, and photojournalism are now defining the medium. We asked for and received wise counsel from photography insiders of all kinds -editors, agents, critics, art dealers. The result is a snapshot of the state of the art in the spring of 2003. As such, our attempt at list making may be of some value after all.




In her long career, Mary Ellen Mark has produced a host of memorable documentary images and portraits of subjects ranging from Indian circuses to homeless American families to TV goddess Pamela Anderson. But Mark says the act of making a photograph has never gotten any easier for her over the years. "Photography is still intriguing to me because it's still so hard to do," she says. "It's hard to make a good photo, and almost impossible to make a great one." Her latest project is a collection of portraits of twins shot on the Polaroid 20x24 camera (a book, her 14th, is due in the fall). She's also under contract with The New Yorker and shoots regularly for Vanity Fair and other magazines. What this legendary photographer, who remains at the top of her game, wants to do now is make a return to street photography. "I've been getting back to the streets lately, and I want to do more of that," she says. "What I see there inspires me."