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Remembering Mary Ellen Mark –

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Remembering Mary Ellen Mark

We were very lucky to have Mary Ellen Mark as the judge of our 2008 First Book Prize in Photography competition. Mary Ellen cared so much about getting things right. She selected Jennette Williams as the winner for The Bathers, a series of platinum palladium photographs of women in Hungarian and Turkish bath houses. And she also chose to award two honorable mentions that year, to Lucian Read and Jon Lowenstein, because she wanted to show her appreciation of their work and to encourage and celebrate it by acknowledging them.

This is a short excerpt from the foreword that Mary Ellen wrote for The Bathers.

“Jennette’s photographs could only have been taken by a woman—a woman with passion, a strong personality, and great talent—a woman who is gentle, kind, and engaging. When I met Jennette I understood immediately why these women welcomed her. She is appealing, direct, intelligent, and possesses an essential vulnerability, which is evident in the photographs. All women can find a part of themselves in Jennette. She is every woman—a mother, a daughter, a sister, a best friend. . . .”

Mary Ellen’s extraordinary vitality, commitment, and incisive views on life and photography were wonderful to behold and experience. She was the epitome of a person with presence: She had passion, a strong personality, and great talent; she was gentle, kind, and engaging. She will be very missed.

In this video, Jennette and Mary Ellen talk about The Bathers, making a life as a photographer, and the importance of first photography books.

In the full transcript, below, Mary Ellen, Jennette, and Alexa Dilworth of the Center for Documentary Studies talk more about photography and books.

 

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