Mary Ellen Mark, who has died aged 75, was one of the greatest documentary photographers of all times. A humanistic photographer, she documented the struggles of the poor, disposessed and marginalised. Her work was published in countless magazines and numerous books. She started shooting on the streets of Philadelphia where she grew up and was later involved in documenting political movements of the times such as the anti-Vietnam war protests and the women’s rights’ movement demonstrations. She was totally at ease engaging with people she met and photographed: “I just took a walk and started making contact with people and photographing them, and I thought: ‘I love this. This is what I want to do for ever.’”
You can browse our Life magazine collection in the Central Stack and discover some of her work in context.
Aperture magazine, which you can read in our libraries but also online with Zinio has recently published a blogpost in memory of this great photographer.
Also published by Aperture, is this first book in our selection:
Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment : The Photography Workshop Series
“In The Photography Workshop Series, Aperture Foundation works with the worlds top photographers to distill their creative approaches, teachings, and insights on photography offering the workshop experience in a book. Their goal is to inspire photographers of all levels who wish to improve their work, as well as readers interested in deepening their understanding of the art of photography. In this book, Mary Ellen Markwell – known for her pictures’ emotional power, be they of people or animals, offers her insight on observing the world and capturing dramatic moments that reveal more than the reality at hand. Through words and pictures, she shares her own creative process and discusses a wide range of issues, from gaining the trust of the subject and taking pictures that are controlled but unforced, to organizing the frame so that every part contributes toward telling the story.” (Syndetics summary)
You can also view a selection of Mary Ellen Mark’s best photos in this Guardian Gallery.
Here are some further suggestions of new photography books in our collection this month:
Vivian Maier : a photographer found
“Photographer Vivian Maier’s allure can be explained by the mystery that surrounds both her life and her work. The story of Maier—the secretive nanny-photographer who became a popular sensation shortly after her death—has only been pieced together from a small selection of the images she made and the handful of facts that have surfaced about her life. Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found is a striking, revelatory volume that unlocks the door to the room of a very private artist who made an extraordinary number of images, chose to show them to no one, and, as fate would have it, succeeded brilliantly in fulfilling what remains so many people’s secret or unrealized desire: to live in and see the world creatively.” (Inside jacket)
Finding Vivian Maier (DVD)
“Now considered one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Vivian’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photos, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.” (Syndetics)
Watch the trailer, (including an appearance from Mary Ellen Mark) HERE
Paul Strand : master of modern photography
“Through his amazing variety of innovative images, photographer Paul Strand (1890–1976) played a crucial role in establishing the medium’s significance as a modern art form. Celebrating the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s recent acquisition of the core collection of Strand’s prints from the Paul Strand Archive, this stunning book comprehensively reassesses the artist’s career in light of current scholarship and critical debates about his work. Featuring more than 250 plates, the catalogue includes many of Strand’s iconic early photos such as Wall Street and Blind Woman alongside lesser-known master prints from all phases of his career. ” (Inside jacket)
Graphis photography annual.
“A collection of the year’s best work from top photographers in the industry. We introduce the work of nine Graphis Platinum winners: Bill Diodato, Frank P. Wartenberg, Henry Leutwyler, Mark Zibert, Colin Faulkner, Marcin Muchalski, RJ Muna, Heinz Baumann and Terry Heffernan. This book also includes Q&A’s with RJ Muna, a cutting edge photographer from San Francisco, and Heinz Baumann, a Swiss conceptual and still life photographer. Also included are descriptions of the assignment, approach and results of work, which offers insight into the creative process of the featured photographers. Additional medalists include Tatijana Shoan, Toshiaki & Hisa Ide, joSon, Dimitri Scheblanov, Adam Voorhes and Erik Almas, among many others.” (Cover)
The Tolstoys in the 21st century
“The Tolstoys in the 21st Century is a photographic portrayal of the modern day Tolstoy dynasty, as photographed by Oleg Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, a relation of one of the world’s greatest writers. Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, who trained in London and whose work has been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery amongst other renowned venues, wanted to pay homage to his illustrious forefather. When the far-flung clan gathered at Tolstoy’s country estate for a family reunion, Tolstoy-Miloslavsky photographed his relatives in a room that contained Tolstoy’s personal effects. The result is a stunning collection of photographic portraits that are both intimate yet engaging, as they capture the diaspora of a family whose name is synonymous with culture, creativity and the proud heritage of Russian literature. ” (Syndetics)
Light, paper, process : reinventing photography
“From its beginnings, photography has been shaped by the desire to understand and explore the essence of the medium. Light, Paper, Process features the work of seven artists–Alison Rossiter, Marco Breuer, James Welling, Lisa Oppenheim, Chris McCaw, John Chiara, and Matthew Brandt–who investigate the possibilities of analog photography by finding innovative, surprising, and sometimes controversial ways to push light-sensitive photographic papers and chemical processing beyond their limits. The results are stunning. This lavish publication accompanies an eponymous exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from April 14 to September 6, 2015.” (Syndetics)
Street photography : the art of capturing the candid moment
“The book includes discussions of why photographers are drawn to street photography, the different styles of street photography, and what makes a great street photograph. From city streets to fairs to beaches, Lewis discusses the impact different environments have on the process of street photography. Lewis gives readers practical advice on everything from cameras and lenses to camera bags and clothing. Lewis also delves into the techniques and approaches that will help novices master the art of street photography. No matter your style, Lewis offers ideas on how to capture fascinating moments in time that may exist for only a fraction of a second, but can leave a lasting impression of the wonders, challenges, and absurdities of modern life.” (Syndetics)
Photography and the art of chance
“Photography has a unique relationship to chance. Photography and the Art of Chance transforms our understanding of photography and the work of some of its most brilliant practitioners. From the introduction of photography in 1839 to the end of the analog era, practitioners such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Frederick Sommer, and John Baldessari built upon and critiqued one another ‘s work in their struggle to reconcile aesthetic aspiration and mechanical process. Could such an automatic mechanism accommodate imagination? Could it make art? Photography and the Art of Chance reveals how daring innovators expanded the aesthetic limits of photography to create art for a modern world.” (Syndetics summary)
Figure fantasy : the pop culture photography of Daniel Picard
“Figure Fantasy: The Pop Culture Photography of Daniel Picard is a wholly unique collection of meticulously composed images, showcasing a variety of comic book and movie icons in realistic and often hilarious everyday settings. Using fan-favorite figures from Sideshow Collectibles, celebrated photographer Daniel Picard gives these classic heroes and villains a fresh twist, presenting them in a perfectly arranged, to-scale environment that create believable scenes and tongue-in-cheek parodies.” (Syndetics summary)
Studio anywhere : a photographer’s guide to shooting in unconventional locations
“What’s your definition of a photo studio? The reality is that you may have an outdated DSLR with two decent lenses (which took you several years to save up for), and all you have at your disposal is an unfinished basement, your garage, or the empty conference room at your office. That’s where Studio Anywhere comes in. With photographer Nick Fancher as your guide, you’ll learn how to get portfolio-ready photos while working in some of the most problematic scenarios imaginable. Whether shooting a corporate portrait, a test shoot with a model, or a promo shoot with a band, you’ll discover that most of the time, there’s no need for an expensive studio-you just have to get creative.” (Syndetics)
Macro photography : from snapshots to great shots
“Close-up and macro photography is one of the most popular types of photography among digital photographers today. After the big-range zoom, a macro lens is typically one of the next purchases considered by outdoor and amateur photographer. Yet hobbyist photographers struggle. Even more advanced photographers find challenges working with depth of field, dealing with light, and using different focal lengths up close. This guide by pro photographer Rob Sheppard will help you conquer the fundamentals and capture stunning pictures.” (Syndetics summary)
“Photography Visionaries is an inspiring guide to 75 of the most influential photographers from c.1900 to the present. Entertainingly written by an expert on photography, it provides a fascinating insight into the lives and careers of men and women working in a medium which perhaps more than any other in the visual arts has been deeply affected by technological change. With the aid of an arresting selection of photographs, some well-known and others less so, this book offers a unique and engaging perspective on the development of photography through some of its most inventive practitioners.” (Syndetics)