I remember her being not the most delightful of people but someone who seemed far away. Aloof, I guess. Her seminar was held at a small community college and I had to drive further away from school just to see her. She's the one who photographs all those twins. That's how I first knew about her. I wouldn't say that her lecture gave me great tips or advice, but I remember learning that being an artist means something different to everyone. After she had finished the lecture, a student had asked her what she thought about the latest trends in photography. She replied in a cold flat voice, "I don't follow trends".
And to me that was the most powerful thing she had said all night.
*This is also my 200th post so I thought it would be best to really go back and think about how far I've come and the people who have impacted my life - especially photographers. Mary Ellen Mark has played a role in my life indirectly. In college, I went to a school that had a teeny tiny photo studio up on the third floor of the art building. The photography department at the time was a single large room with several smaller rooms inside that were for developing film, prints, and printing digital images. A poster tacked on a cork bulletin board was placed directly in front of the door to that room. It showed a woman who greeted me every day at the photo lab. Her name was "Tiny". She watched me the day I developed my first roll of black and white film. She kept me company when I was waiting for my fiber based prints to dry. She witnessed me struggle through countless efforts of every possible worst case scenario that a photo student goes through. At 8 am, she was there. At midnight, she never left. And she was there when I took my last steps through that room and out the door. Essentially this image was a constant visual for me as I grew from being a young bright eyed teenager to a young adult. Thinking about it now, I never realized how much that photo did for me. It amazes me that one little picture can do so much. Thank you Mary Ellen Mark. Your work has transcended much further than you'll ever know.
**The image for the link to this post is one I shot in school using a Yashica twin lens camera. The negative has been scanned and you can see all the scratches and dust with all its glory. The model, Laura, was my friend and a former ballet student.