words from Mary Ellen Mark

I’m trying to please myself; certainly that’s a big criterion… though in a sense, I don’t take images just for myself. I take images that I think other people will want to see. I don’t take pictures to put in a box and hide them. I want as many people to see them as possible.

Mary Ellen Mark

I came across this quote by Mary Ellen Mark, and it makes a point I’ve been wrestling with lately. I want as many people as possible to see what I do. Whether anybody likes what I do or not isn’t the point. Some will, some won’t, most won’t really care one way or the other. To me an important part of taking pictures is simply showing them and letting whoever stumbles on to them decide for themselves if it’s worth spending their time with them. I think I’ll start showing more again.

I’ve been posting a few snapshots here on and off, but I haven’t been on Twitter for a few months now, and I haven’t done Instagram in a couple of years. One of these days I’ll probably start doing both again for a simple reason — I take a lot of snapshots, I do it for the fun and pleasure of doing it, I like to experiment and play with different approaches, and I like to show what I do. When I first started in photography it was much more difficult to show your work. There were limited opportunities and there were gatekeepers to get through at all of them. Not so now, and I want to take advantage of that.

I can start up Instagram any time I want to, but I’ll wait on Twitter until most of the gas concerning the upcoming election has been passed and a decision has been made. When that might be still seems to be a bit of a moving target. I’ll be posting here now and then too. Maybe I’ll see you around…

6 thoughts on “words from Mary Ellen Mark

  1. Good thinking to wait until the election in the USA is over. If you waited until all elections are over, you would never return.

    I struggle with the same conflict. I don’t think I’ve ever quite recovered from finally, finally having put my work OUT THERE and then, nothing. Barely a murmuring. It was an enormous financial commitment – even a gallery from Ontario that wanted me in her show at annual sales show in the Louvre and Biennial in Florence wanted me to again pay everything: galleries now have decided their name, their mailing list, their ‘publicity’ is all they wish to provide. That is ok for people who sell. Otherwise.

    I just don’t know, Finn. We’re basically on our own either way. I have kept recents of yours to comment on and then I find myself saying to myself, who the fuck (scuse) are you to be commenting on someone else’s images?

    I always thrill to your desert, anyway.

    Robynne Limoges
    +44 (0)7946 293 582
    Twitter (@LimogesRobynne)


    1. Yes Robynne we’re on our own, and you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can shoot what I want how I want, I can post and show where I want when I want without having to meet someone else’s rules or guidelines or agendas. That’s a precious freedom I won’t give up and that many who are trying to make a living with photography can’t exercise. I’ll wear my amateur snapshooter badge proudly…

      Who are you to be commenting on my stuff? You’re a living breathing human being who responds to and likes, or sometimes dislikes, what I do. That’s a big reason I put them out, to get an interesting response. Your thoughts mean more to me than any comments from galleries or publications or whatever would. Yours come from the heart, not from a commercial perspective. To me the difference is huge.

      So… keep it coming. And thanks.


  2. It’s funny. It took me years after leaving commercial photography to get back to shooting for me. My eye told me what to shoot, but part of my brain asked, “What’s the market?” I have since conquered that renegade brain, and now truly shoot for my own delight. If someone else likes it, I’m thrilled that they have connected in some way, but if no one reacts, meh.

    I have revived the hobby that got me where I am today, and I’m happy where i am.

    I had to ditch Twitter for a while. It’s all death and destruction leading up to the election, and even an innocuous post got me yelled at for no reason. Can’t remember now why I like Twitter. We’ll reevaluate before Thanksgiving and see what’s what.

    Excellent post, PJ!


    1. Thanks Bud. Took me a long time too to get rid of that foolish thinking. Time, and switching to using only a phone camera did a lot to clear my head. I guess if I start to take myself too seriously again I can do what Stephen Shore did in his early days and shoot with a Mick-A-Matic (look it up) or something similar… 😂

      As far as Twitter is concerned, I like it for the connections I can make with people I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Those are good – the rest of it can be a snake pit at times. I’m doing the same as you – I’ll probably do it again but I’m staying away for awhile yet.


  3. It seems to be the constant dilemma; that being, making art for yourself (as most pundits say) and being appreciated for that art (as my inner self says). The two don’t always collide as we’d wish. I’ll tell myself that there are nearly 7 billion people in the world, there must be a few hundred who see the world as I do and of those there must be fifty or so that would buy my work. I think so far it’s closer to 25 but I’m working on it. 🙂


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