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 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 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 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. 
 It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter. 
 A great photograph needs no explanation; it functions by suggestion. There is no need to be explicit. 
 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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