Mary Ellen Mark: A Life Worth Lived

On the 25th of May, 2015, the world of photography lost one of its most cherished contributors. Award winning photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, passed away at the age of 75, after she became a victim of a rare blood and bone marrow condition known as myelodysplastic syndrome. She is and will always be remembered as one of the greatest photographers to have walked the earth. While she rests in peace, her soulful images of marginalized individuals and groups will always continue to haunt and inspire people.


Her journey…


Mary’s first tryst with photography began early, when she first learned how to use a Box Brownie at the tender age of 9. It would be safe to assume that it was one of those key moments that inspired her to follow a path in photography. After completing her master’s degree in Photojournalism in the year 1964, Mary Ellen eventually set out to create a niche for herself in the photographic community. Her first book, titled Passport was published in 1974, which was a result of her photographic trip to Turkey; an opportunity that came as part of her Fulbright Scholarship. Thus, her journey to photographic excellence began and ever since then, Mary Ellen continued to charm and shock the world with her exquisite imagery.


Beautiful Emine posing, Trabzon, Turkey, 1965

© Mary Ellen Mark


Her work…


If there is one thing that Mary Ellen’s photography was known for, it was the ability to make viewer’s question their own existence and worth. Mobdro for iPhone Mary Ellen is primarily recognized as a Humanist photographer, who used her hard work and talent to show us how we’ve conveniently managed to ignore the citizens of the other side. From covering the daily lives of prostitutes in Mumbai to psychiatric patients at the Oregon State Hospital, Mary Ellen brought us closer to the harsh realities of this world through her pictures.


She was a photographer who exuded courage and determination, while still maintaining an air of gentleness. She was a photographer with a heart of gold and a message in her head, which she clearly communicated to us through her photographic brilliance.



© Mary Ellen Mark




Mary Ellen has published 18 photographic works, including some of her most popular ones such as Ward 81 and Streetwise. Her images have been and will, most likely continue, to be exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the world. She has won numerous accolades and awards including a Lifetime Achievement in Photography from the George Eastman House in 2014 and an Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award from the World Photography Organization.

Mary Ellen Mark is a rare and true inspiration to photographers around the world.

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