Mary Ellen Mark, an artist known for her photojournalism, portraiture, and her incredible humanist photography, passed away Monday in New York City. A Philadelphia native, she moved to New York City in 1967; where over the next several years she photographed demonstrations in opposition to the Vietnam War, the women's liberation movement, transvestite culture, and Times Square, developing a sensibility, according to one writer, "away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes". Her photography went on to address such social issues as homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction, and prostitution. She described her approach to her subjects: "I’ve always felt that children and teenagers are not "children," they’re small people. I look at them as little people and I either like them or I don’t like them. I also have an obsession with mental illness. And strange people who are outside the borders of society."
She had 18 collections of her work published, including Streetwise and Ward 81, and has been exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide. She received numerous accolades, including three Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House. and the Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organization.