Artists Who Inspire: Mary Ellen Mark

I chose a window seat so I could feel the sun on my back. It had been snowing for weeks on campus and I needed to feel like I was somewhere warm instead of the dreary library. I dreaded another photo history project looking at beautiful f/64 landscapes that I could never re-create. As I opened the book read the first chapter, I  realized I wasn’t reading a biography but a documentary. There was no introduction on the artist, no byline, just the women and their story. I gasped when I saw the images in Falkland Road and I was in tears after a few pages. It was a beautiful project of an extremely sad topic. The images were raw, but still beautiful. That’s when I fell in love with Mary Ellen’s work. I knew this documentary would forever stay with me.


In the off season I sometimes feel uninspired. For me, I go back to the classics. My favorite artists who inspire me. Some I found in school while studying photo history, others are new discoveries. Over the next couple weeks, I be sharing some of my favorites. I strongly believe that artists inspire each other and are driven by the world around us and our experiences within it.

Ok, that’s enough art school babble for one day…

Mary Ellen Mark

“When photographing I want to reach and touch something that I feel is at the core of people.”

The thing I love about her the most is how strong she is at both color and black and white. She works in so many different mediums 4×5, 35mm, toy cameras, digital… and she masters all of them.

Please be warned, the images are explicit. The project documents female forced into prostitution in India. I’m sure it also influenced the movie Born into Brothels, which I highly recommend.

Mary ellen mark falkland road

Who inspires you?

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