12 frågor till Mary Ellen Mark

71-åriga Mary Ellen Mark är en av de riktigt stora fotograferna. Hon har varit verksam sedan mitten av 60-talet och uppmärksammats och hyllats världen över för projekt som ”Ward 81”, ”Falkland Road” och ”Twins”.
Jag fick den stora äran att assistera Mary Ellens workshop på Fotografiska under Stockholm Photography Week och hon är den 14:e fotografen i ordningen att svara på mina 12 frågor. Se fler intervjuer i kategorin med samma namn till höger.

1. Vad betyder fotografi för dig?

It´s what I do and who I am, I can´t imagine having a life without it.

  1. När och hur kom du på att du ville bli fotograf?

I´ve always been interested in photography!  But I started photographing in my early 20’s when I was in graduate school at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, I had studied painting at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate.

  1. Beskriv kort din bakgrund, hur ju utbildat dig och var du jobbat.

After I graduated from the Annenberg School I got a Fulbright Scholarship to photograph in Turkey for a year.  When that was over, I moved to New York and I’ve been a photographer ever since.

  1. Hur arbetar du med fotografi idag?

Not much has changed. I still do a lot of street photography in New York where I live, and I take different assignments for magazines and some commercial work. I also photograph on film sets. I was just in Taiwan taking photographs on an Ang Lee film ”The Life of Pi.” That was a wonderful experience. I’ve also photographed on several of Tim Burton’s sets which is also an amazing experience. I teach workshops and lecture around the world.  I’ve been teaching my workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico for eighteen years.  We recently make a book of 15 years of my students work.  Oaxaca is a beautiful city and very close to my heart. It’s a wonderful workshop.

  1. Vad använder du dig av för teknik?

I´m an analog photographer and I will be analog until the day I die. I have many analog cameras, I just love the whole process. Analog is a completely different medium than digital. I think digital photography is great for newspaper photographers because you don’t have to bring a lot of equipment and you can send back your images immediately—especially in situations of war. But I´m not  a war photographer or newspaper photographer so digital is not a real advantage to me. Also, I think Photoshop is a very useful tool as long as you use it as a darkroom, but it worries me when it’s used to change the truth.

  1. Vilka andra fotografer inspirerar dig?

Many photographers inspire me. Irving Penn is one of my favourite photographers, I love his pictures because they are so elegant. I also love Kertesz, Margaret Bourke White, Marion Post Wolcott, Brassai, Ansel Adams’ unknown portraits, Robert Frank, Anders Petersen, Graciela Iturbide, Ragnar Axellson, Henri Cartier Bresson, Lisette Model, and many more.

  1. Berätta lite om ditt senaste projekt.

I´ve been working on the ”Prom” project with my husband for a few years. We traveled around the country photographing prom. I made portraits with the 20×24 camera and Martin made a film. The book and DVD will be out in spring 2012. I really love working with Martin.

  1. Och vad blir nästa utmaning?

I have a few ideas… but I don’t want to talk about it until I’m more clear about what I want to do. The most important thing for me has been to get the Prom project completed and published since we worked on it for so many years.

  1. Hinner du vara ledig ibland? Vad gör du då?

I’m always working. When I’m not shooting there’s always a lot to do in my studio. I´m lucky because I have fantastic people there who help me. I also love to shop. I collect folk are, and my weakness is fashion! I bought a lot of clogs in Sweden, I love them.

  1. Är utmärkelser viktiga?

Sure, they’re very encouraging and flattering.  And grants give you an opportunity to finance your personal project. But what´s really important is just to continue photographing. I’ve always believed that you´re only as good as the next project you do.

  1. Vad skulle du göra om du inte var fotograf tror du?

Something that involves people, of course. It would have been nice to go into medicine but I was never good enough at math or science…

Maybe I would have been a filmmaker, but it´s so much more complicated and difficult than still photography. I can’t imagine being anything else but a photographer.

  1. Framtidsdrömmar och mål?

It would be nice if I could find the perfect way to fund all my future projects. So that I could realize all the projects that I would like to do.

Mary Ellen Mark.

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