Mary Ellen Mark And The Reality Of Being A Photography Icon

As I have become a working artist I am fascinated and learning from the working habits of other artists; this is another in a series of posts I’ve done examining the business part of image making.  I’ve done enough of these that there’s a new category to this blog, “Being A Working Artist.”

Ibarionex Perello did a recent interview with photography icon Mary Ellen Mark where she spoke to her aesthetic of realism as opposed to being an “illustrator”, her term for photographers who utilize a lot of post production.  Depending on the subject I use anything between a day’s worth of post production to 30 seconds worth of post production in an image, but I admire Mark’s commitment to a vision even if it isn’t fashionable with her old magazine employers.

from Mary Ellen Mark’s series of Marlon Brando/ Apocalypse Now images

There were a number of things in the interview that stood out.

1. Mark incorporates teaching and print sales as major parts of her income.  So many amateur photographers fixate on getting paid shoots they neglect these secondary income sources, whereas the long-timers have diversified income.

2. Mark self-finances many of her projects and has to work to find backing for anything else.  It likely gets published and in galleries and perhaps book form but she has to sort out the logistics of making the work- even experienced pros, famous names in the field of photography, don’t get amazing opportunities handed to them on a platter.

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I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, AZ. Main Site - Instagram @primordialcreative + twitter @dbmillerphoto

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