Magnum Photos Blog
Ajax loader
Mary Ellen Mark: 1940 - 2015
May 27, 2015
by Eli Reed
I heard of Mary Ellen Mark's passing late today with some shock and sadness. She was and is one of the foundations of true photojournalism in a time that needed her kind of important additions to what is needed to tell important stories with truth, beauty, and a healthy respect for her subjects.
They were not just subjects. Many became friends that stayed in touch with her throughout her life. The dimming of her light is an extremely important loss at this time in photographic history. There are so many well meaning professionals and amateurs who have tried to copy the work of photographers that possibly inhabit the same space that she lived in and the well meaning failed for the most part.
One needed to have the same kind of faith in your own original vision that Mary Ellen Mark displayed time after time. It seems too many photographers did not get that very important memo. Particularly the part of that memo that tells you to get ready for failure so that when victory comes - it will be as sweet as a Georgia peach.
Mary Ellen could have been a very tough US Marine if she had somehow and for some reason thought to go in that direction but fortunately for the rest of us - she chose the path of being as gentle as the sweetest kiss from a Summer's sweet breeze celebrating the coming of a sultry night.
Mary Ellen Mark was a magnificent human being who gave, through the work she produced, much more then she received and I mourn her passing. She was a special kind of a living day and night that brings to the front very beautiful mornings. Sweet dreams to her is a good thing.

-Eli Reed