Photographic Inspiration 1# – Mary Ellen


[first posted on The Carnival Chronicles Blog]

I first got introduced to Mary Ellen Mark‘s work by my dad John (photographer and fellow contributor to this esteemed blog), he for obvious reasons thought I might be interested in her work and in particular this series/book.I love black & white photography having grown up surrounded by it and this series totally fascinated me – A) there’s the circus element which is a natural winner for me and b) its India and having been there a couple of times I am totally intrigued by that country in all its chaotic beauty and suffering.

These photo’s are so full of both these elements – beauty and an underlying unease and darkness, I love the unflinching way she captures both these feelings. I try not to get too caught up in the thought of how both the animals and the people are treated or the conditions they live in, I am just totally transported by the images….


Mary says this about the series:

“Photographing the Indian circus was one of the most beautiful, joyous, and special times of my career. I was allowed to document a magic fantasy that was, at the same time, all so real. It was full of ironies, often humorous and sometimes sad, beautiful and ugly, loving and at times cruel, but always human. The Indian circus is a metaphor for everything that has always fascinated me visually” – Mary Ellen Mark

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