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David H. Bebbington
08-09-2006, 01:56 AM
She did portraits also, like this old gentleman with a camera!

Appears to be Ansel Adams (or his twin brother)?

SuzanneR
08-09-2006, 05:55 AM
This is a striking image, the girls looks to be a 14 going on 40, and the boy, perhaps, wants to stay young. Lots of ways to interpret it, and yet, I think, it's obvious they've had difficult lives. She really did capture something in that girl's eyes!

The exploitation issue comes up from time to time, because there's a perception that a photographer can show up someplace, rattle off a few snaps and be on their merry way. When, in fact, it's quite time consuming to gain the trust needed to achieve this type of image. It's rather hard to photograph human suffering. And, honestly, Mark has probably made very little money on this image. Images of human suffering are, indeed, quite hard to sell. But, as Don quoted, their stories have no chance to be told if she doesn't make the photoraphs. I think she supplements her income doing a lot of commercial work.

Oh... and that is Ansel Adams! Don't you just love the hat?

Bill Hahn
08-09-2006, 07:21 AM
The eyes have it.

I am reminded of Dorothea Lange's "Damaged Child" (1936).

More than one novelist has noted that the eyes of a masked child can be unsettling. (One example: John Le Carre in "A Perfect Spy", when describing the look on Rickie Pym's face when he is cornered and dangerous. The eyes "regret your decisions and note your mortality" - I may have misquoted from memory. Still gives me the chills.)

reellis67
08-09-2006, 07:23 AM
To me, this is a powerful image; one that forces me to stop and look for some time rather than grab a brief look and move along to the next picture. There is a tremendous amount of mystery bound in the subjects faces - long years in young eyes - and the sense of place created by the background adds to that feeling. I've never taken this type of image, and I doub't that I ever will, but it still captivates me. With my own photos I tend to work more along the technical lines than the aesthetic or emotional, so it is hard for me to not be moved by the different style of photography. I see the details that I focus on in my own work - lines and so on - but I can tell immediately that the photographer had completely internalized the concepts of design and uses them unconsiously, which allows her to see the subject with her full attention, and is shows in the results.

- Randy

Bill Mitchell
08-09-2006, 07:43 AM
Noblebeast makes an excellent point that only a still photograph could best present that kind of situation.
I still maintain, however, that this particular image is not complete within itself unless the viewer has additional information, or is already familiar with the situation. Taken out of context we don't really know what it represents, although so far the consensus of the responders on this forum is that it somehow represents children who are old before their time, and have lost the optimism of youth. That's an awful lot to read into a single picture with no real information on the underlying background.
I'm reminded of the quotation by Walker Evans when asked if a photograph could ever lie, his answer was, "they always do."

noblebeast
08-09-2006, 08:12 AM
...
I still maintain, however, that this particular image is not complete within itself unless the viewer has additional information, or is already familiar with the situation. Taken out of context we don't really know what it represents, although so far the consensus of the responders on this forum is that it somehow represents children who are old before their time, and have lost the optimism of youth. That's an awful lot to read into a single picture with no real information on the underlying background.
I'm reminded of the quotation by Walker Evans when asked if a photograph could ever lie, his answer was, "they always do."

Or as Avedon was oft quoted, "All photographs are accurate. None is the truth."

But I can't help think you are limiting yourself by not responding to the photo without understanding its original context. Does it really matter? Does the photo make you feel anything, on its own, without the full essay or the context of the original assignment to tell you what to think/feel, how to respond? Aren't your questions about context/circumstances part of the wonderful journey a picture like this can take you on? One of the great surprising joys I get from my own pictures is when people - preferably people without any photography background (who tend to worry first and foremost about the technical aspects of the photo) - see things/symbols/meanings in the picture I had no idea were there. I used to think that just because they didn't see the print that I thought I was making, the print must be a failure. Now I know better.

Joe

Bill Mitchell
08-09-2006, 08:45 AM
I don't like my emotions being jerked around, such as intended by those sappy (video) adds for some children's charity, showing snot-nosed, unkempt and unclean, pot-bellied urchins with tears running down their cheeks ("for only a dollar-a-day you can feed this child and send her to Harvard!" Or better yet, to Congress?).
I do believe this image because I happen to know about Mary Ellen Mark. Otherwise, it could just be another shill.

ChuckP
08-10-2006, 08:41 AM
I find the mask to be both a blessing and a curse. The photo needs it for the surreal effect but weighs it down as a prop.

bjorke
08-10-2006, 01:34 PM
I find the mask to be both a blessing and a curse. The photo needs it for the surreal effect but weighs it down as a prop.Interesting notion -- but if these kids are indeed travellers/Romani/Gypsies then the mask is probably a part of their lifestyle, a crucial story element and a key irony in their lives of projecting entertainment and happiness towards others from within their own questionable circumstance.

Bill Mitchell
08-13-2006, 07:46 AM
I was at Barnes & Noble yesterday, looking through her new book "Exposure," and ran across this image. It was identified as Spanish Gypsies, but unfortunately no additional information was given.
This is an incredibly intense book, and there is an appendix where she discusses many of the individual photographs, in particular Tiny and Mike, two of the children from her beautiful but gritty photoessay on street kids in Seattle.
Her work certainly reinforces what they say on Malcolm in the Middle, "Life is Unfair."

jp80874
08-13-2006, 08:41 AM
"I'm not going to post the backround information on this, as I would be interested in everyone's personal interpretation of the scene. More of her work can be found at www.maryellenmark.com or www.art-dept.com/artists/mark.

Thanks again to Jim for starting this idea!
__________________
-Chris"

Chis,

Being one of those landscape and urban waste photo types I find the emotions relatively new and very interesting. Now that many have expressed their views and I have looked at your links, would you be so kind as to add the backround information on this specific photo?

Thanks,

John Powers

catem
08-13-2006, 08:58 AM
I do think this photograph can stand on its own, without necessarily knowing the context and background (though this can probably enrich it). The expression in the childrens' faces and body postures, and their relationship to one another, seem timeless to me, and could be expressed by children in many different circumstances, countries, times; certainly a sense of innocence lost, of some kind of hurt endured. The mask adds another dimension, a potent symbol, but you don't need to know about or think about how masks have been used by photographers/artists, there is the theme of comedy/tragedy, the depiction of their enforced public role, the hidden reality beneath the surface - all that comes across. I think it's very powerful.
Cate

catem
08-13-2006, 09:08 AM
p.s. the photo for discussion (which I saw yesterday) seems to have disappeared from the inital post - or is it me ??

lee
08-13-2006, 09:52 AM
HI star it is still here for me so it must be you.

:)

lee\c

ps: very good comments

l\c

catem
08-13-2006, 10:39 AM
HI star it is still here for me so it must be you.

:)

lee\c

ps: very good comments

l\c

Thanks Lee - for both comments. It's back for me too, so it must have been a problem with my server...
Cate

Alex Hawley
08-13-2006, 03:15 PM
You should check her out, Alex. You'll find that she is impeccable.


I don't like my emotions being jerked around, such as intended by those sappy (video) adds for some children's charity, showing snot-nosed, unkempt and unclean, pot-bellied urchins with tears running down their cheeks ("for only a dollar-a-day you can feed this child and send her to Harvard!" Or better yet, to Congress?).
I do believe this image because I happen to know about Mary Ellen Mark. Otherwise, it could just be another shill.

Like I said in the beginning, its an excellent photo. I'll take Bill Mitchell's word on the photographer's credibility.