Mary Ellen Mark
[Photographer, b. 1940, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, d. 2015, New York.]

 If you are interested in photography because you love it and are obsessed with it, you must be self-motivated, a perfectionist, and relentless. 
 In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind. 
 I don’t think you can develop or learn a “way of seeing” or a “point of view.” A “way of seeing” is who you are, how you think and how you create images. It is something that is inside of you. It’s how you look at the world. 
 I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul, and I think you have to be clear about that. 
 I go into every story thinking I’m going to fail. I think about that all the time—I think it’s going to be terrible. Every story is like the first I’ve ever done. 
 A great photograph needs no explanation; it functions by suggestion. There is no need to be explicit. 
 It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter. 
 A good print is really essential. I want to take strong documentary photographs that are as good technically as any of the best technical photographs, and as creative as any of the best fine-art photographs. [That is doubly important because] I don’t want to just be a photo essayist; I’m more interested in single images... ones that I feel are good enough to stand on their own. 
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