Mary Ellen Mark (March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015)
May 26, 2015 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark died on May 25, 2015 at the age of 75. Perhaps her most famous project is the documentation of the lives of homeless people in Seattle in the early 1980s, specifically Erin "Tiny" Blackwell, a 13-year-old sex worker. This Life Magazine editorial was then turned into a documentary film called Streetwise in 1984. Mary and her husband, Mark Bell, have more recently followed up with Tiny 30 years later for a successful Kickstarter campaign for a book and film to be released this later this year.
posted by girlmightlive (26 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Smart Dalek at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by djseafood at 6:06 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by Flashman at 6:25 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by litlnemo at 6:28 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by Fizz at 6:35 PM on May 26, 2015


She was working on the Tiny project up until just a few weeks ago. She was one my photo heros.
posted by photoslob at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2015


When I clicked on the NYTimes slideshow of her work, I realized that I have been familiar with her work for many years, but that I had never known her name. I love her photographs, and I'm sorry that I never knew anything about her until reading the obituaries.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:08 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, no. I didn't know she had passed away. STREETWISE hurt my heart more than any documentary I've ever seen. It's stayed with me, and her photos of those kids are the reason why I know them and still think about them. I'm so so sad to hear about her death. She was something special and her photos opened a door into a lot of amazing places. RIP.


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posted by OolooKitty at 7:46 PM on May 26, 2015


The name of her husband and collaborator is Martin Bell, I believe, not Mark.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:08 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 8:41 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by nfalkner at 9:11 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by pt68 at 9:34 PM on May 26, 2015


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posted by Halloween Jack at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2015


Not being previously familiar with her, I was reading the Wikipedia page and was shocked to see this:

"[One of the other documentary subjects] Roberta Joseph Hayes fell victim to Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Ridgway's 43rd victim, 21-year-old Hayes disappeared February 7, 1987; her remains were found September 11, 1991."

Famous twice over for two horrible reasons.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:54 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wanted to mark her formal portiature, which was often very witty, an formally gorgeous--people often cannot scale that well.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:06 PM on May 26, 2015


She was an amazing photographer doing such important work. Thank you for posting this; I didn't know about the book and film to be released this year.

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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:57 AM on May 27, 2015


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posted by Chichibio at 1:11 AM on May 27, 2015


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Remarkable woman, remarkable photos.
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:55 AM on May 27, 2015


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posted by ialwayscryatendings at 5:59 AM on May 27, 2015


I was stunned and saddened to learn of her passing and cried like I lost a relative.

I met Mary Ellen Mark in 1987 on Hollywood Boulevard. She was asking various punk/homeless youth to pose for her. For several days, she'd hand out a few dollars to any of us that would assist. She was a gentle, generous, and friendly person with a ready smile.

It was years later that I discovered she wasn't just some college student doing an assignment after a college class-mate told me I was in a book. From the collection 25 Years, I share with you a little of my youth titled "Pagan", a Runaway from Arizona.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2015 [29 favorites]


I wish I had gotten the chance to let her know I did get off the streets, went on to college, and made my life better.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:10 AM on May 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


She also wrote the story for the Jeff Bridges/Edward Furlong film American Heart, which is sort of the fictionalized version of Streetwise, although it packs nowhere near the wallop of the documentary.

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posted by jonp72 at 7:15 AM on May 27, 2015


The name of her husband and collaborator is Martin Bell, I believe, not Mark.

Not to derail, but I had to check if Marc Bell (aka Marky Ramone) was dead. He is not.
posted by jonp72 at 7:18 AM on May 27, 2015


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So sad this happened just before the film was released.
I am always so conflicted around photographers who intrinsically/emotionally embed themselves with homeless people and/or addicts... (see also: Tony Fouhse: Live Through This, and his preceding USER series...)
posted by Theta States at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amanda And Her Cousin Amy is another fantastic (and iconic) photo by her.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:20 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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posted by readery at 4:55 AM on June 9, 2015


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