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On Set With Fellini: A Look at Mary Ellen Mark’s Accomplished Photos

The world of photography has suffered a great loss with the passing of U.S. photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark at 75 years of age.

Although mostly known for her journalism, she also shot portraiture, advertising, and was a unit photographer on movie sets, which is how I came across her work through stills for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.

Her style of work was often quoted as “away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes.”

Frederico Fellini / Mary Ellen Mark (Screenshot/YouTube)

Frederico Fellini. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mary Ellen Mark’s photography has been exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide. She has had 18 collections of her work published, including Indian Circus, Twins, and Streetwise.

She won a Lifetime Achievement in Photography from the George Eastman House, Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation, and the list over the years goes on and on…

Mary Ellen Mark (Screenshot/YouTube)  March 20, 1940 - May 25, 2015

Mary Ellen Mark, March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015. (Screenshot/YouTube)

In this Criterion Collection feature clip, she talks about her days of being the unit photographer for film sets, and what it was like for her to photograph Federico Fellini shooting his film Satyricon in 1969.

It’s a real treat to hear her talk about her working style. She comes across as so humble and perceptive. I think a good photo-journalist needs to be invisible, but also needs to have patience and the willingness to understand the subject they shoot. She had all of these qualities.

Mary Ellen Mark shows Fellini like no other photographer has captured him before.

Here are some photos she took on the set of Satyricon.

Frederico Fellini was the type of character that was hard to miss when you pointed a camera at him / Mary Ellen Mark.  (Screenshot/YouTube)

Frederico Fellini was the type of character who was hard to miss when you pointed a camera at him. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Actor on the film set of Satyricon, Rome, Italy 1969 / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Actor on the film set of ‘Satyricon’ in Rome, 1969. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mary Ellen Mark was less experienced on this set so sometimes cringes when she looks at the framing of some shots, this looks good to me.  (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mary Ellen was less experienced on this set so sometimes cringes when she looks at the framing of some shots. (Screenshot/YouTube)

I had total access to work behind the scenes and of course back then people weren't as paranoid / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

She had total access to work behind the scenes and of course back then people weren’t as paranoid. (Screenshot/YouTube)

He never shouted at me thank goodness. Sometimes he shouted to build up energy / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Mary Ellen: ‘He never shouted at me thank goodness. Sometimes he shouted to build up energy.’ (Screenshot/YouTube)

Fellini in a reflective moment on set / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Fellini in a reflective moment on set. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Contact Sheet / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Contact sheet. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Fellini was incredible to photograph as he was larger than life and I think he enjoyed having his photo taken / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Fellini was incredible to photograph as he was larger than life. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mary Ellen Mark was always trying to be true to the style of what the Director did, delicate moment captured. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mary Ellen was always trying to be true to the style of what the director did. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Working on film sets appealed to Mary as she could approach the work like a documentary photographer / Mary Ellen Mark. (Screenshot/YouTube)

She could approach working on film sets like a documentary photographer. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The world is sorry to see you go, Mary Ellen Mark.

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