NEW YORK (AP) _ Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, famed for her gift of capturing searing images of human vulnerability, has died at age 75.
She died on Sunday, said her library manager, Meredith Lue. No other details were released by Lue on Tuesday.
Mark’s subjects ranged from runaway children and heroin addicts to celebrities and world leaders. She also pointed her lens at members of the Ku Klux Klan, a women’s security ward in a mental institution and various celebrities.
Over the decades, the late Time art critic Robert Hughes wrote, “what resulted was, in fact, a lamentation: one of the most delicately shaded studies of vulnerability ever set on film.”
A collection of photographs Mark titled “Streetwise” spans 30 years in the life of Tiny Blackwell, a Seattle prostitute and heroin addict she met in the 1980s when Tiny was 14.
The photographer chose Seattle “because it is known as `America’s most livable city,”’ she wrote in the preface to her book on the subject. “By choosing America’s ideal city we were making the point: `If street kids exist in a city like Seattle then they can be found everywhere in America, and we are therefore facing a major social problem of runaways in this country.”’
Mark’s work appeared in prominent publications including Life, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. She also published 18 books.
Her latest project was New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Mark was born and raised in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. In 1962, Mark graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of fine arts in art history and painting, followed by a master’s in photojournalism.
Her work first drew attention in the 1960s, when she photographed heroin addicts in London, steeping herself in the humanity of overlooked subjects.
A photographer’s photographer, Mark never really switched to digital cameras.
“I’m staying with film, and with silver prints, and no Photoshop,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2008. “That’s the way I learned photography: You make your picture in the camera. Now, so much is made in the computer. … I’m not anti-digital, I just think, for me, film works better.”
Mark is survived by her husband, documentary filmmaker Martin Bell, who directed “Streetwise” based on her images. Funeral plans are pending.