Mary Ellen Mark: The Book of Everything
Published by Steidl.
Edited by Martin Bell.
“All of her subjects, no matter how down and out, looked straight back at Ms. Mark, and her camera never flinched. With one fearless project after another, she became one of the preeminent documentary photographers of our time.” –Washington Post
Conceived and edited by film director Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark’s husband and collaborator for over 30 years, The Book of Everything celebrates in over 600 images and diverse texts Mark’s extraordinary life, work and vision. From 1963 to her death in 2015, Mark told brilliant, intimate, provocative stories of remarkable characters whom she would meet and then engage with—often in perpetuity. There was nothing casual or unprepared about Mark’s approach; she unfailingly empathized with the people and places she photographed.
For this comprehensive book Bell has selected images from Mark’s thousands of contact sheets and chromes—from over two million frames in total. These include her own now-iconic choices, those published once and since lost in time, as well as some of her as-yet-unpublished preferences. Bell complements these with a few selections of his own. Along with Mark’s photos made in compelling, often tragic circumstances, The Book of Everything includes recollections from friends, colleagues and many of those she photographed. Mark’s own thoughts reveal doubts and insecurities, her ideas about the individuals and topics she photographed, as well as the challenges of the business of photography.
The images of Mary Ellen Mark (1940–2015) are icons of documentary photography. Her 20 books include Ward 81 (1979), Falkland Road (1981) and Indian Circus (1993). Her last book Tiny: Streetwise Revisited (2015) is a culmination of 32 years documenting Erin Blackwell (Tiny), who was featured in Martin Bell’s 1985 film Streetwise and Mark’s 1988 book of the same name. Mark’s humanistic work has been exhibited and published in magazines worldwide.