Marlon Brando on the Set of Apocalypse Now, Phillipines 1977
by Mary Ellen Marks

Mary Ellen Mark (1940-) was born in Philadelphia and began photographing with a Box Brownie camera at age nine.  She studied painting and art history for a bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania around 1959. She turned professional as a freelance in the mid 1960s when she returned to school at the Annenburg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and received, after her graduation in 1965, a Fullbright scholarship to photograph in Turkey and other countries in Europe for a year.  In her long career she has tackled many of the most difficult social issues of her time; including homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction and prostitution. She works almost exclusively in black and white. She has contributed to many publications, including LIFE magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. She currently works in her studio in New York, and is under contract to The New Yorker.  She's had three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, won the Robert Kennedy Journalism Award, undertaken a Guggenheim Fellowship, and been awarded five honorary doctorates.   She maintains that the technical aspects (as well as the social aspects) of her work are very important - as she said in an interview: "A good print is really essential. I want to take strong documentary photographs that are as good technically as any of the best technical photographs, and as creative as any of the best fine-art photographs. (...) I don't want to just be a photo essayist; I'm more interested in single images.... ones that I feel are good enough to stand on their own".  She is currently happily married to photographer Martin Bell and resides in New York, NY.  Here are more of her photos.

New England Barn
by Arnold Newman (1918-2006)

Arnold Newman died Tuesday in New York City at age 88.   He was actually known best for portrait photography of most of the great celebrities of the 20th century.  Here are some of his photos.  What he brought to portraits that was new was to show how the environment in the photo could express who the person was - like this portrait of Barnett Newman, an abstract expressionist painter.  He carried his camera and lighting equipment to his subjects, capturing them in their surroundings and used a large-format camera and tripod to ensure that every detail of a scene was recorded.  He was born in New York and was a painter first but had to leave school because of the Depression.  Then he got a job as an assistant in a photography studio in Philadelphia and fell in love with it.  He took a portfolio to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and got his first show at age 23.  Five years ater, he started freelancing.  The New York Times and Life magazine started hiring him.  "We don't take photographs with our cameras," Newman once told Vanity Fair. "We take them with our hearts and minds."  He is survived by his wife, Augusta, two sons and four grandchildren.

missionOld Mission Church, Zuni Pueblo, N.M.
by Timothy O'Sullivan (1840-1882)

Going way back to the 19th century, this photo is dated 1874 while the photographer worked for the Army Corps of Engineers on a survey west of the One Hundredth Meridian. On the trip he almost starved when some of the expedition's boats capsized, but 300 negatives he took survived the trip back East afterwards to be developed. Photography then was as far from today's digital snapping, throwing on the computer, and printing as you could get, requiring big bulky equipment that had to be set up. to This is an albumen print, 20.2x27.5 cm. O'Sullivan was born in Ireland and his family emigrated to New York during the potato famines when he was two. At 18 he apprenticed with Mathew Brady (famous civil war photographer). When that war began he served at age 21 for a year and then was honorably discharged and continued to photograph the war till it ended in 1866. He then became a government survey expedition photographer and would return to Washington DC in the winters to develop his photos. At 36 he moved to Washington DC for good and became the photographer of the Treasury till he died of TB of the lungs at age 42. Here is a page of his photographs. And this is his most famous photo. Seems like times haven't changed much, have they.