Mary Ellen Mark, the documentary photographer best known in New York for her street scenes and portraits of the disenfranchised, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 75.
Mark photographed her subjects documentary-style, for the most part in black-and-white. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Life, Rolling Stone, the New York Times Magazine, and Vanity Affair, among other publications.
One of her first projects took her to London in the 1960s to photograph heroin addicts; in 1968, Mark visited India for the first time, and returned a decade later to photograph prostitutes working in brothels in what was then Bombay. For one book, published in 1979, Mark photographed the residents of a women’s security ward at Oregon State Mental Institution. For another project, which began as an assignment for Life, Mark documented Seattle teenagers working as pimps, prostitutes, and small-time drug dealers.
Mark, a Philadelphia native, was also known for photographing the people and places of her adopted hometown of New York City over several decades. As always, she frequently pointed her camera at the city’s more marginalized citizens.
In 1987, Mark told the Times magazine, “I feel an affinity for people who haven’t had the best breaks in society. I’m always on their side. I find them more human maybe.”
The Voice has compiled a small collection of some of Mark’s most memorable New York photographs, with permission from her studio. See below: