Mary Ellen Mark
With a DVD of the film Prom by Martin Bell
The high school prom is an American tradition, a rite of passage, and one of the most important rituals of youth in this country. The internationally recognized documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark took on the extraordinary challenge of working with the Polaroid 20x24 Land Camera to produce this fascinating look at dozens of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds on this memorable night in their lives.
Traveling across the United States to complete the project from 2006 to 2009, Mark photographed prom-goers at thirteen schools from New York City to Charlottesville, Virginia, to Houston to Los Angeles. Mark's husband, the filmmaker Martin Bell, collaborated with her on the project to produce and direct a film, also called Prom, featuring interviews with the students about their lives, dreams, and hopes for the future. A DVD of the film is packaged with the book.
The 127 large-format photographs are reproduced in rich detail, and quotations from the student interviews punctuate the book. Some of the students' statements are comical while others are deeply touching. The result is a captivating and revealing document of American youth at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015) achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions, and editorial magazine work. She was a contributing photographer to the New Yorker and published photo-essays and portraits in Life, New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. Her books include Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing on the Set (Phaidon, 2008), Exposure (Phaidon, 2006), and Twins (Aperture, 2005). Martin Bell is a filmmaker whose film Streetwise was nominated for an Academy Award. He has collaborated with Mary Ellen Mark on several projects, including his films Twins, Circus of Dreams, Alexander, and Streetwise.
“A breathtaking look at an American rite of passage.”
“Award-winning photographer Mary Ellen Mark traveled the country to find an eclectic mix of subjects for her latest work, Prom. . . . Mark captured the hope, fear, sadness, joy (and yes, awkwardness) that prom brings in black-and-white photos.”
“Mary Ellen Mark is considered one of the most respected and influential photographers of our time.”
“With more than 120 exquisitely detailed b&w photographs depicting teenagers of all shapes, sizes, colors, styles and attitudes, the book offers a sense of the infinite variation that is America . . . Mark’s project is a remarkable record of young people on the brink of change.”
“Awkward. Hilarious. Heartbreaking. Magical. The high-school prom is a very American rite of passage. Renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark invites herself to the dance, capturing the poignant moment teenagers teeter on the edge of adulthood.”
“Known for her portraiture and for her unflinching eye in uncomfortable zones, this time Mark has set herself the challenge of looking at the quintessential American coming-of-age-ritual—the senior prom. . . . If the exhibition fascinates, the book is a must-have.”
—Weekly Press (Philadelphia]
“Mark’s proffered invitation to Prom shows how much has culturally changed at this American event where once bow ties and tuxes, taffeta dresses and tiaras were de rigueur.”