mary-ellen-mark-011Mary Ellen Mark qui obtient une licence de peinture et histoire de l’art en 1962 et, deux années plus tard, une maîtrise de photojournalisme à l’université de Pennsylvanie à Philadelphie, publie son premier ouvrage en 1974 : Passport, une sélection de photographies prises de 1963 à 1973.


auteur : Mary Ellen MARK
isbn : 0-912810-14-9
couverture : broché
année : 1974
éditeur : Ralph Gibson’s Lustrum Press
langue : anglaise
état : excellent
format : 17,5 x 10,7 x 1,3 cm
Nbre de pages : 192 pages

An interview with Mary Ellen Mark by Eleanor Lewis, in New York City, June 15, 1974. It’s dark coming into her apartment from the bright afternoon sun. Objects emerge…African masks, cloth from Bali, Indian carvings, a Navajo rug, a Dickensian stuffed rabbit with Harris tweed vest from London. A half unpacked suitcase lies in the corner. Mary Ellen pours us some cold wine…

EL: What was your last port of call?

MEM: Tahiti…

EL: Where are you going next?

MEM: I really don’t know where I’m going next…but when I was coming back from Tahiti this old man got on the plane. He had long, flowing hair and wore no shoes. He looked like a gypsy and he walked right up to me and pointed and said, « Gypsy ». He didn’t speak English but he knew that word.

EL: Tell me a little about the opening photograph.

MEM: It was taken years ago when I first started photographing. I had a Fulbright and went to Turkey for a year…an incredible year when I could just wander and take pictures. This picture says PASSPORT to me…it’s a picture of two travelers…

EL: Are they refugees?

MEM: No, they’re not really refugees. They’re coming from a small town along the Black Sea, moving to the big city, Istanbul…it’s been a long voyage. They’re tired and scared…and excited. It could have been taken on Ellis Island. The same kind of feeling…the beginning of a big adventure.

EL: Do you ever travel without your camera?

MEM: I could never think of traveling someplace without my camera. I travel because I love to photograph. I hope my whole life will be this way…I’d like to see every place in the world. I mean, that’s a big thing to ask for but I feel it’s all out there, to be seen.

EL: When you go to exotic places, how do you avoid shooting cliches?

MEM: It’s hard to get beyond that in cultures that are very different. I guess…it’s seeing something that evokes a certain kind of memory or response that’s universal. I get a strong feeling. Usually, I know. One thing for sure, with black and white film you’re forced to get to the essentials more than with color. I use Tri-X all the time…it’s fast.

EL: And the camera? You use a Leica?

MEM: Yes. I have Nikons too for long range shooting but the Leica 4 is my camera. I think it’s better because it’s faster to focus and it’s smaller, less noticeable. Also I started out using a Leica…I think that has a lot to do with it.

EL: What excites you most about photography?

MEM: Capturing the image. It’s like magic. And suddenly there’s an image that’s going…something you’ve seen and you can click a little box and be able to look at that image forever.

EL: Do you sit and look at that photograph for a long time?

MEM: No, once it’s over, it’s over. For me the great moment is when I feel I’ve taken the picture. That’s the connection. It’s recording the moment that’s very important to me, but the experience is always really important too.

EL: More important than the photograph?

MEM: The experience is the means of getting the photograph. I love the experience and adventure of it. When I first started photographing, when I was in school…I would walk around the streets, you know, with a camera. The day would be full of adventures for me…it would take on real meaning. At the end of the day when I felt I had taken good photographs…it was a terrific feeling and very gratifying. I still feel that way. But I mean, the sad thing for photographers like me now is the fact that the demand is drying up. If Life and Look were still around I’d be sent off one place one week and two weeks later I’d have another story to do somewhere else. If I could have a situation where I could be working constantly, doing stories all the time, interesting ones…wow, I wouldn’t do anything else…I wouldn’t need anything else.

EL: Have you ever thought of settling down?

MEM: I would die if I felt I had to be confined and you know, live in a house and stay in one place. I don’t want to feel that I’m missing out on experiencing as much as I can. For me, experiencing is knowing people all over the world and being able to photograph. I always used to have dreams of airplanes as a kid…before I had ever been on one. I still dream about them so I guess it’s something that’s always going to be on my mind, you know, to be able to take off. I think being a transient person, you know, a gypsy, manifests itself in every aspect of my life, certainly in my work, in all my relationships…see, it’s just something that changes and happens. I don’t think I was like this ten years ago when I started to photograph.

EL: So photography changed you…

MEM: Oh, totally, completely. It really opened me up because I’ve been lucky enough to look at other cultures and other ways of life…seeing how people live in different parts of the world…rich people, poor people, good people, bad people. The people I’ve found have given me a lot. They’ve educated me.