Photographer, Mary Ellen Mark

posted in Project 52 Portraits

Photographer, Mary Ellen Mark

And now for something completely different!
Mary Ellen Mark is a documentary photographer. Kind of voyeuristic. She comes from a time (not too long ago) when magazines would send her across the globe on assignment for 6 months or 3 years to document prostitution, homelessness, addiction, mental illness or the bizarre subculture of the circus. She photographed people… and the human condition.

Reality is always extraordinary.

Her pictures tell stories, and don’t need captions to convey ideas.

I found this assignment a bit challenging, because it wasn’t as simple as going out onto the street and snapping pictures of people. It was about finding a topic that was worth documenting, and one that I had access to. I didn’t want to “fake” this one. It had to be real, or why bother…


My mother worked at the Winchester gun factory in New Haven for 40 years (almost to the day), until they closed the plant in March 2006, and she, along with many other longtime employees were left with no pension.

So at age 59, with no high school diploma, my mom had to find a job. With a few calls to friends and connections, she was offered work as a caretaker for the elderly.

These photos are of Helen, a 103-year-old centenarian that my mother has been taking care of for the past 5 years. I got to meet Helen today, and she’s a sweetheart! I only had a few minutes and didn’t want to startle her with a big lighting setup, so there are just natural light.
My mother spends a lot of time at Helen’s, sometimes just for a few hours, and sometimes over weekends.

I was happy to document Helen’s final phase of her life, and how my mother is working to keep Helen comfortable in her own home until she decides to leave this world.

Mom and Helen-1700

Mom and Helen-1657

Mom and Helen-1663

Mom and Helen-1673 Mom and Helen-1674 Mom and Helen-1684 Mom and Helen-1686

Mom and Helen-1694

Mom and Helen-1695



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