Mary Ellen Mark, Legendary Documentary Photographer, Dies at 75

Mary Ellen Mark dies at 75

Credit: Getty Images

  • ‘Snake charmer of the soul’ photographer Mary Ellen Mark passes away!

Legendary documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark nicknamed the ‘Snake Charmer of the Soul’ for capturing human vulnerability died on Monday!

Mary Ellen Mark the award winning photographer famous for capturing intense images about human vulnerability passed away at the age of 75. On Monday Mark lost the battle with death after warring for years with an illness caused by defects and failure in the bone marrow.

The news of the demise of the legendary photographer who was granted the title of ‘Snake Charmer of the Soul’ was confirmed by Mark’s best friend Kelly Cutrone to Daily Mail

The first time Mark’s work drew attention was when she clicked heroin addicts in London during the 1960’s. Mark’s work was famous for being directed at capturing subjects such as runaway children, heroin addicts, celebrities and even world leaders but what made it all the more compelling was the way she photographed the subjects in brutal honesty of human nature.

Mark’s most famous work was capturing kids on streets in the 1980’s Seattle. The photograph essay entitled ‘Streets of the Lost: Runaway Kids eke out a mean life in Seattle’ was released in 1983 and showed adolescents injecting themselves with heroin syringes and eating discarded food from the municipal bins.

The most popular subject in the book was a 14 years old girl named was Erin “Tiny” Blackwell already a heroin addict. Tiny lived with an indifferent and alcoholic mother and was supporting her heroin addiction through prostitution, which was all captured in the photographs of Mary Ellen Mark. 

Other notable works by mark included capturing the state of mental asylums and prostitutes in Mumbai. Mark was a quintessential photographer and never used a digital camera or Photoshop in her works.

In 2014 Mark won the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from George Eastman House. Mark’s latest book ‘Tiny: Streetwise Revisited’ is yet to be released and hopefully will be published later in 2015. 

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