Friday, September 12, 2014


On Sunday afternoons I watch a show called Capture, on the Ovation channel.  It's hosted by photographer Mark Seliger.  He interviews two people per session--one of the world's best photographers and an amateur, usually an actor--to discuss their work.  It's an amazing half hour that I often wish were longer.

I recorded last Sunday's program, then sat down last night to catch up.  I was beyond excited that the professional was Mary Ellen Mark, one of the people who set me on the path to want more than just a "picture" from my camera.

It was an excellent show, Mary Ellen was just mesmerizing, even more so at 74, and I was glued to every word she said.  Then. Toward the end of the program, Mark was rifling through some of her celebrity black & white shots when suddenly I caught just a glimmer of...something...before he set the photos down.  I backed up, replayed, backed up, replayed and there it was.

The memory...

Somewhere in the mid-90s.  The BFF and I are at Seattle's Pike Place Market on a crispy autumn Saturday.  On the lower level there were wonderful shops of vintage clothing, prints and posters, antiques.  This part of the market is removed from the bustling tourist stuff above where the fish, food and restaurants are.  We went there at least once a month for the cool clothes, but on this particular day we were headed for the poster shop where you could get just about anything ever photographed.

J wanted a particular shot of this goth guy, with tattoos and spiky hair, that she'd seen in a magazine. She's talking to the owner and I'm browsing around when I turned a corner...and had one of those life-changing moments.  I actually felt it sear through me, for two reasons.

Reason One:
At first, I thought the photographer had to be Annie Leibovitz because it was a celebrity shot, in black and white, and sort of her style. On closer inspection however, I knew it wasn't her work, but then, who's was it?  The owner of the shop clued me in. Mary Ellen Mark.  And I fell totally, utterly, forever under her spell.  I did research at the library, talked to art gallery people, bought her photography books (this was before the internet, Wiki, Google) and began to look through my camera lens in an entirely different way.

Reason Two:
Hanging on the wall was her photograph of my ideal man. I was completely lost in the vision. It was like someone had probed my brain, finding all the bits and pieces, and here was the result. I still feel that way--hence the total body rush last night at that little glimpse in Mark Seliger's hands as he shuffled through Mary Ellen's photographs.

I give you a man in his prime. 42 years old, incredibly great hair, ruggedly handsome, tattoo, abs and low-slung jeans.  It transports me, peeps.  It did back then, it does right now.  A stunning photograph.

Jeff Bridges, 1993
photo by Mary Ellen Mark


  1. And here I thought Mel Gibson in Braveheart drag was more your speed ;p.

    That is a good back and white, though. The Dude abides...

    1. Nah, I preferred the real thing to the Aussie.
      And yeah, the Dude abides indeed...Lebowski or otherwise... ;D