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

 I don’t expect to change the world with my photographs, I just want to make pictures that have substance. 
 I would die if I had to be confined. I don’t want to feel that I’m missing out on experiencing as much as I can. For me, experiencing is knowing people all over the world and being able to photograph. 
 It’s important for me to be honest. The men, women, and children I photograph are straightforward with me. I have to respect them for what they are… What I look for is compassion, not pity. 
 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. 
 To touch on people’s lives [in a way they] haven’t been touched on before, it’s fascinating. You know, it’s one thing if [a celebrity] has an incredible character and you’re really going to be able to delve into their personality—that’s great. But you can never get real purity if people have been spoiled by the camera and don’t trust you. I like feeling that I’m able to be a voice for those people who aren’t famous, the people that don’t have the great opportunities. 
 I prefer not to think ahead about what I’m going to say with my photographs. I would rather be surprised and see what my subjects bring to the photograph. 
 I think you have to have a real point of view that’s your own. You have to tell it your way. And, I think that it’s a mistake to shoot for a specific magazine’s point of view because it’s never going to be as good. You have to shoot for yourself and photograph [the way] you believe it. 
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