Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The photojournalist that I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to is Mary Ellen Mark. Not only is she a photojournalist she is also a portraiture and known for her advertising photography. She was born March 20th, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her first experience with photography was at the age of nine with a Box Brownie camera. She attended Cheltenham High School and excelled in Art classes. She went on to receive a BFA degree in painting and art history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962. Also in 1964 Masters Degree in photojournalism from the Annenberg School for Communication, this is the communications school at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1965 she received a Fulbright scholarship to photograph in Turkey for a year. The Fulbright scholarship is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists. In 1967 she settled in New York and still lives there today married to film director Martin Bell.

After her year in Turkey she was given her first big break from Pat Carbine an editor for Look. He gave her two assignments in Europe. The first of these, a study of Italian film director Federico Fellini, was published in Look in 1968; a story on London’s innovative methadone program for heroin addicts followed in 1969. The subject matter of the latter essay contained elements that would consume much of her efforts in the future–health care and the plight of those cast out by society. What drives her is that she wants to acknowledge those individuals who’ve had a tough life and through capturing them in photos she becomes involved in her subject’s lives, for example many times when she has finished an assignment for a magazine she if she feels there is more that needs to be documented. Another example of this would be before she brought in the camera to photograph the sick in Calcutta she spent time working in the clinic which helped her notice the patients daily activities and more involved with them as human beings. She said that helping before photographing, “Helped her to come to terms with her earlier discomfort at photographing in such intensely moving surroundings.”

The themes and subject matters that dominate her photographic work are homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction and prostitution. When she first moved to New York she spent her first few years photographing Vietnam War demonstrations, the women’s liberation movement, transvestite culture and Time square.  Her photographs are primarily in black and white. Her photographs have been described as non-mainstream and tend to lean towards more interesting, troubled outsiders. In 1987 Marks said, “I’m just interested in people on the edges. I feel an affinity for people who haven’t had the best breaks in society. What I want to do more than anything is acknowledge their existence.” What she tries to do with her photos is reveal the humanity of these people that live on the margins. With her photography Mark “captures the essence of humanity and portrays people as they truly are.”

Mary Ellen Mark has photographed all around the world for over four decades (England, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain.) Obviously one of the main places she’s worked is the place she lives, New York. Some of her most well known photos were taken over years in India. In India she photographed Mother Teresa, Indian circuses, and brothels in Bombay. India was special for her because she was interested in the beauty and diversity of it. Another landmark in her career was a photo essay on the runaway children of Seattle that became the basis of the film Streetwise, directed and photographed by her husband. While doing photography for magazines she also started making production still for movies such as Alice’s Restaurant and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She has said it gave her a break from, “The intense and heartrending situations she often photographed in the outside world.”

Most of the photographs that she has taken go as far back as 1976 which was the year of her first exhibition. Most of her photos that I’ve mentioned have been taken in India that started with her first visit in 1968 and ended with her last visit in 1981, a period of 13 years. Through her photographs of the Charity missions in Calcutta, which was led by Mother Teresa she brought to light the poverty of the patients and the much needed assistance they needed from the clinics. In July 1983 she felt that the runaway kids in Seattle were not fully explored in the LIFE article she photographed for and spent two months of the year with these children. To make these children who had been cast aside by their families and ignored by social services recognized by the public Mark and her husband created a documentary. She was able to use the relationships she made with them previously to help make the film; the subject was made known because it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Film of the year.

She distributes her photos in multiple ways. She has released books, had exhibitions and has done photos for editorial magazine work. She is a contributing photographer to The New Yorker and has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. So far she has published sixteen books, her recent book & exhibition project, Extraordinary Child, was commissioned by The National Museum of Iceland and features photographs of children at two specialized schools for the disabled in Reykjavik. Her photos have been featured in museums worldwide.

Some of the awards she has received are The World Press Award for Outstanding Body of Work throughout the Years, Cornell Capa Award by the International Center of Photography in 2001. She has also received the Infinity Award for Journalism, an Erna & Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant, and a Walter Annenberg Grant for her book and exhibition project on AMERICA. Among her other awards are the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Matrix Award for outstanding woman in the field of film/photography, and the Dr. Erich Salomon Award for outstanding merits in the field of journalistic photography.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lee Jeffries

 Impressive black and white portraits full of emotion by Lee Jeffries. “Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Close to the professional football circle, this artist starts to photograph sporting events. A chance meeting with a young homeless girl in the streets of London changes his artistic approach forever. Lee Jeffries recalls that, initially, he had stolen a photo from this young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag. The photographer knew that the young girl had noticed him but his first reaction was to leave. He says that something made him stay and go and discuss with the homeless girl. His perception about the homeless completely changes. They become the subject of his art. The models in his photographs are homeless people that he has met in Europe and in the United States: «Situations arose, and I made an effort to learn to get to know each of the subjects before asking their permission to do their portrait.» From then onwards, his photographs portray his convictions and his compassion to the world.” Check his full portfolio at Flickr, definitively worth it!