Mary Ellen Mark : Tiny
Posted on February 17, 2020
Tiny is a photo I first saw when I was getting my BFA in photography. My professor hung a poster in the class room with a photo of Tiny by photographer Mary Ellen Mark. It became the standard to which I held my portrait photography.
I couldn’t take my eyes off this black & white photo. I loved everything about it. The compositions, the tilt of her shoulders, the angle of her bent arms, the black gloves contrasted off her white skin, the defiant look on her face, her eyes peering through the mesh of her perfectly placed hat, the slight down turn of the corners of her mouth, the out of focused background. I could go on and on about what I love about this image which is why it became the standard to me of excellent portrait photography.
Photographer and documentarian, Mark, in addition to other projects for clients such as The New Yorker and Life, followed one woman for over 30 years, Tiny (her given name is Erin Blackwell). She first photographed Tiny in 1983 when she was 13 and a prostitute living on the streets of Seattle until 2014 when Tiny was a mother of 10 who overcame drug addiction. You can find out more about Mark and her work with Tiny here. I will write more about Mary Ellen Mark in another blog.