Mary Ellen Mark
[Photographer, b. 1940, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, d. 2015, New York.]
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.
If you are interested in photography because you love it and are obsessed with it, you must be self-motivated, a perfectionist, and relentless.
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.
In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.
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.
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.
I think you reveal yourself by what you choose to photograph, but I prefer photographs that tell more about the subject. There’s nothing much interesting to tell about me; what’s interesting is the person I’m photographing, and that’s what I try to show... . I think each photographer has a point of view and a way of looking at the world... that has to do with your subject matter and how you choose to present it. What’s interesting is letting people tell you about themselves in the picture.