With her strongly personal approach, she documents the lives of people on the edges of society -- from the prostitutes of Bombay to the street kids of Seattle to the cowboys of small-town Texas rodeos.
In 1965, at the outset of her career, what documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark wanted to do more than anything was get away: journey to distant countries, travel to unfamiliar places in America, explore and try to understand the lives of as many different kinds of people as she could. That she’s put together a world-class body of work on just those initial terms is a testament to her fortitude and self-assurance, and also to her ability to connect, quickly and deeply, with her subjects.
Mark has continued to elevate her goals, to the point where her strikingly diverse photographic series — of homeless families, runaway children, mentally ill patients, Indian prostitutes — are all bound together by a generosity of vision. In its social aspect, her work has become synonymous with how important it is to acknowledge the humanity of those people on the edges of society, and often at the edges of their own lives.