A burst of applause for Mary Ellen Mark. Unquestionably intelligent and extraordinarily talented, Mary Ellen Mark's photographic commentary is in reality a reflection of her own personal feelings toward the people she encounters and the instant rapport established between them.
She has enormous charm and an innocence toward the world and the people in it that is disarmingly honest and most refreshing. She "dreams" of conquering the world with her camera.
Born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1940, Mary Ellen attended the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Art History and Painting. She graduated in 1962.
Her recent interest in photography began while she was a student at The Annenberg School of Communications where she enrolled in the photojournalism course during the fall of 1963. It was "love at first sight." Under the expert guidance and with much encouragement from her teacher, Lew Glessman (Art Editor of Holiday magazine) her decision to become a photographer was made. During the school term she took a job photographing for the University of Pennsylvania's Alumnae
magazine and also did stills for a local TV station. When she graduated in June 1964, she took the money she earned and went to Europe to spend the summer. She wanted to build up a portfolio to back her up .... for when she returned home she intended to apply for a Fulbright-her theme-to photograph the rural areas of Turkey. Upon her return, and while waiting to hear whether or not she had received the Fulbright, she spent her time taking photographs for colleges in the Pa. area. In December she traveled to a small town in south-eastern Mexico, San Andres Tuxtla. Of this trip she says, "It was a wonderful experience. I got to know the town and its people well. I lived with a lower middle class Mexican family. I also spent a great deal of time with a very poor Indian family; they had five beautiful children and lived in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor. There was a great deal of love in the family and they were very happy. When I left they asked me to be godmother of their two-year-old boy."
Back in Philadelphia in late January, 1965, she continued photographing and in late April she learned she had received the Fulbright.
Returning to Europe the latter part of June, she stopped by the offices of U. S. Camera to say, "Goodbye." She was a very happy young lady and most enthusiastic about her forthcoming trip. She would first go to France, then Italy, England and Greece, and then in October would travel to Turkey. "There," she said, "I will spend some time in each village, getting to know the people, photographing them and their way of life. I have been taking pictures for only a year and a half .... I know that I have much to learn and a long way to go.
Mary Ellen Mark loves to photograph people and the seven pictures that run across these six pages prove it. Pages 30 and 31, this one was taken in a small mountain village in Sardinia where she took a series of photos of these children playing in the street; she liked this one the best. Maclovia (page 32) is an Indian servant girl who loved having her picture taken. Mary Ellen caught her smoking a cigarette as she was doing the family wash; the stub of the cigarette Maclovia found in a trash can. While photographing a beautiful, old cemetery outside the town of San Andres Tuxtla, the funeral procession of a two-year-old child filed past her. The child's father is carrying the front end of the coffin, page 33, top. Page 33, bottom, when a Mexican mother saw Mary Ellen and her camera she ran inside and brought out her entire family to be photographed. This fantastic picture (page 34, top) was taken on the beach at Cannes. When Mary Ellen first saw the woman she did not have her camera with her. She ran back to get it, but the wrinkled old woman was gone. However, the woman's traveling companion was an 18-year-old boy, and Mary Ellen spotted him and he in turn took her to see the "countess." She gave Mary Ellen her card which read, "Princesse Aicha Abadia." She was quite flattered when she found Mary Ellen wanted to photograph her. During the three hours she spent with her, she found out that the "Princesse" felt she had been reincarnated, and, so was her husband who was traveling with her but who was invisible. She gave Mary Ellen her address where she intends to look her up in Paris this summer and do a series of photographs. Page 34, bottom. While in Madrid and on her way to the park, this man asked her to buy some flowers; she did and also took his picture. Page 35, the man balancing the box of flowers on his head was taken in London's Covent Garden. All photographs were taken with 35mm cameras.