Mary Ellen Mark (1940 – 2015) has achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. For over four decades, she has traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Today, she is recognized as one of our most respected and influential photographers. Her images of our world’s diverse cultures have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. Her portrayals of Mother Teresa, Indian circuses, and brothels in Bombay were the product of many years of work in India. A photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of the academy award nominated film STREETWISE, directed and photographed by her husband, Martin Bell.
In 1995, Mary Ellen was introduced to the 20×24 Polaroid camera. She has worked with it often since then—both for editorial and commercial assignments and for her own personal projects. There are only a few working cameras in the world, so she feels fortunate to have one nearby. One of the challenges of working with the camera is that there is no “post-production” so everything has to be perfect when the shutter releases.