In thinking about my project, I hadn’t realised until recently that I have been conducting this project with a hint of humour attached. For me documentary photography is simply described as taking photographs to provide a record of social and political situations with the aim of conveying information. Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events. A new documentary by ALLDAYEVERYDAY Films will offer an insider glimpse at the work of some of the most prominent street photographers of past and present. Everybody Street will feature interviews from and the work of well-known street photographers including Jill Freedman, Bruce Davidson, Boogie, Joel Meyerowitz, Ricky Powell, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Martha Cooper, Elliot Erwitt, Jamel Shabazz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Clayton Patterson, and Bruce Gilden.
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Mary Ellen Mark and Margaret Bourke-White are both considered classic documentary photographers. In the early twenties Bourke-White went to seven different colleges before she finally got her BA from Cornell. The life stories of Bourke-White and Mark are similar, they are both women succeeding the world of documentary photography. There are many other Mark and Bourke-White photos that are very similar from the same time periods, like Bourke-White’s East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1936 (pl. The differences in their housing and attitude reflect the changes that America has experienced during the fifty one years separating them. The similarities between Bourke-White and Mark go deeper than their mutual interest in the American poor and their sympathetic portrayal of these people. It is obvious that the careers of Bourke-White and Mark are far from being identical; they are different people photographing at different times. From the earliest days of Mark’s career people were always her subjects, from the people in Passport to the people in her movie stills. Since it’s origins with the advent of photography documentary photography has been evolving. I am doing research for my term paper and would like to quote the dust bowl quote by Margared Bourke-White (Callahan 13) in my term paper.
It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit. If the trailer is any indication, the film, entitled Everybody Street, will show how street photography captures life in all its facets — the fascinating and the bizarre, the disturbing and the violent, as well as the beautiful and the heartwarming. Below, you can view some of the photography from the trailer, along with snippets from interviews with the photographers listed above. She was perhaps the most famous and respected photographer of her time, she moved the art of photography and science of journalism ahead. Though their careers may seem to differ radically they actually have a lot of similarities in their style and their lives. Just out of school she began photographing the industrial goings on in Cleveland, and three years later in 1929 she began doing freelance work for Fortune magazine. The poorer neighborhoods have been getting increasingly violent, younger and younger children are committing and dealing with violence.
They shared a fascination with India and it’s people, they both spent extended periods photographing there. The interest with industry has faded as we become more accustom to living with new technologies.
The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, most often pictures of people.
Please feel free to explore further works of these photographers on their collections or their personal sites.
By exposing the truth and documenting the time Bourke-White has made a positive impact on this world. In 1971, the year that Bourke-White died of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 67, Mark was thirty years old and still doing film stills and other freelance work. She continued doing industrial photography for Fortune magazine, but also broadened her horizons and began to photograph an assortment of other things—from ad photography to feature articles from inside the Soviet Union.
The number of violent acts committed by children under the age of 18 has been on the rise since the early 1980’s.
Bourke-White was able to meet and photograph Gandhi, over thirty years later Mark was in India photographing India’s other saint, Mother Teresa. The world that Bourke-White grew up in and photographed was a vastly different place than the one that Mark, thirty six years her junior, did her growing up and photographing in. But now the focus becomes the human condition, which is due in part to World War II and the very personal effect it had on most of the world. Mark had not yet decided to fully pursue documentary photography, but she had already photographed all over the world and produced her first book, Passport. In 1936 she became one of the first staff photographers for Life magazine, it was her photo of Fort Peck Dam that graced the first cover. It was during her graduate studies at Annenberg School of Communication she turned to photography. Both pictures show a young African American boy (with a dog in East Feliciana Parish, or a little brother in Robert Taylor Homes, Chicago). The confronting stares of the young boys in Robert Taylor Homes signifies the alertness and attitude a child in the projects must grow-up with.


They both enjoyed travel and photographed abroad extensively in the Soviet Union, Europe, and Asia.
Mark continues to photograph the small people and the everyday problems, unlike Bourke-White who was the best photographer on the scene, Mark wants to be the only photographer. After graduation she applied for and got a Fulbright scholarship to go to Turkey and photograph.
The housing in both photos also offers an insight into their lives and the changes that have taken place over those 51 years. Some documentary photographers and critics criticize this saying that she isn’t being objective- some say it’s great and she is getting deeper more powerful pictures. Her photos of India are our historical documents of their revolution, her photos of the concentration camps made the world now the extent of man’s inhumanity to man, and her photos of the rural poor help to institute the works programs of the New Deal. During World War II she photographed in the Soviet Union, was the first female photographer in the US AirCorps, and was one of the first photographers to see the Concentration camps. Mark continued to travel and photograph after the scholarship expired and for the rest of her life. From the newspaper wallpaper in East Feliciana Parish to the mattresses sans bed sheets in Robert Taylor Homes, the homes that these boys live in give a good idea of how their life is.
The Bourke-White photo show the boy in a run down house- but the house was his at least rented and kept up by his family. From the very start of her career Mark’s focus has been people, it wasn’t until the 1930’s and later that Bourke-White began to use people as her focus and even then not always.
Unlike Bourke-White, Mark refuses to cover current news—Bourke-White did this a lot during World War II and in India. Earlier in her career, after freelancing in New York City for a year, Mark headed to India following in the footsteps of Bourke-White. After the war she became interested in India and began to photograph the Indian people as well as Gandhi. The boy in the Mark’s photo is staring into the camera as is his little brother, still in diapers he seems jaded as does his brother who is already bandaged. The neighborhood probably had an assortment of different members from the law abiding hard working people to the out of work and out of luck families.
America was booming and production was at an all time high, the photographs and other art from this time reflect this excitement.
Her photos have informed people about mental institutions, the problems in India, and helped to draw attention to homeless teenage runaways. Even before the Ward 81 series Mark was continuing Bourke-White’s work and style of documentary photography.
Later in her career she started to do documentary work for Life and Fortune again, visiting the mines in South Africa and Korean War. She returned to America and moved to New York City were she took many freelancing jobs doing movie stills.
They both depict a family suffering due to poverty, a man and wife with a child (children). This clashes with the boy in Robert Taylor Homes who stares off to the side avoiding the camera’s gaze. In Robert Taylor Homes the boys’ house is in the infamous Robert Taylor housing project in Chicago, Illinois.
She goes for the long term stories rather than short term glory, she picked projects that she felt personally attached too. Marks’s photos are the late 20th century version of Bourke-White’s early and mid 20th century work. She had to stop her photographic career short because of Parkinson’s disease and died 1971. The house behind Bourke-White’s Sweetfern, Arkansas becomes the car in Mark’s Damm Family in their Car.
The light comes from the side of the fame and lights his youthful face with a angelic glow, making the viewer think of innocence exploited Whereas the Mark photo Robert Taylor Homes with the confronting stare of the young boys is about lost innocence. Housing projects are usually in the poorest and most crime ridden area of town (Robert Taylor is no exception), the schools are usually subpar and the housing inatqutite.
Electricity, indoor plumbing, cars, planes, factories, grand architecture, and other industrial achievements had come so fast people were in awe of it. Mark was thrilled when she got the go ahead from Life to photograph Mother Teresa Missions of Charities.
Bourke-White and Mark share many themes, some of their works differ drastically- this is because the are responding to different times, different worlds, but they deal with these vastly different worlds with the same techniques and methods.
Bourke-White is one of the most famous American photographers, she was also a woman succeeding in the male dominated world of the 1920’s through 1950’s she was the first women and even the first person to do a lot of things (like photograph Lenin smiling). She published her first book Passport, in 1974 as a sort of journal of her earlier and more recent travels.
In both photos the house and car are the families most important possession, in reality are worth very little.
Like Sweetfern, Arkansas and Damm Family in their Car the boys in Bourke-White’s and Mark’s photos are of the same poverty stricken demographic.
People on welfare are sent to these projects by the hundreds, but there they do not find a supportive community, they simply find urban decay. From the first of her documentary work Mark has had clear concept about how she wants to use documentary photography and what she is trying to achieve through it.


Bourke-White found it easy to photograph these factories, buildings, and workers in an epic way. East Feliciana Parish is about the rural poor and Robert Taylor Homes is about the urban poor. Two of the most comparable works are Bourke-White’s The Monsoon Failed this Year, India, 1946.
Mark was shooting movie stills for the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on location in the Oregon State Hospital. Both mothers look off into the distance as if the struggle to survive each day has taken a immense toll.
In the 1930’s when Bourke-White took East Feliciana Parish the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression were at hand. She didn’t lack skill in tackling more emotional charged subjects like her India photos or her photos in Korea.
The men adopt a supportive posture, in Sweetfern, Arkansas the father sits defensively while holding a stick and looking at the camera, he leans in towards his family. The country (even the government with the FSA) was watching the rural lower class (and even middle class) lose everything they owned. You know, it’s one thing if [a celebrity] has an incredible character and you’re really going to be able to delve into their personality—that’s great.
5) and Mark’s Goudi at Home for the Dying, Mother Teresa’s Missions of Charity, Calcutta, 1981. In Damm Family in Their Car the father holds the mother and, like the other father, stares in to the camera.
This is not to say that urban poverty was not a problem in the 1930’s it just wasn’t the focus of the country’s attention. But you can never get real purity if people have been spoiled by the camera and don’t trust you.
The two families wear shabby attire, the boy in Sweetfern, Arkansas doesn’t even have pants.
Today America is focused on the failure of the projects and the rapid decay of many urban centers. After the success of Ward 81 Mark returned to India, the first time in 1979 to photograph Mother Teresa and her charities and again in 1989, this time to photograph for Life. Bourke-White and Mark know what was important to the country and the time- they photographed it and brought it to the attention of the world.
In 1988 Mark earned the Worlds Press Award for Outstanding Life’s Work, and at the age of forty eight- she has not showed signs of slowing yet. Bourke-White’s The Monsoon Failed this Year shows a older woman getting rice- she is almost skeletal with the bones in her arm showing through her skin. The viewer does not only feel pity for these families, they also feel a sadness for them because the photographs treat them as people so they are able to feel for them like they would their family and friends.
Mark and Bourke-White got to know their subjects, though it is apparent in these photos that Mark knew her subjects a little better, they seem more comfortable and relaxed.
The two photographs invite the viewer in the world of the subjects by portraying them in their typical surroundings.
Bourke’s photo is high in contrast with a harsh light coming from the upper right of the subjects. Both Bourke-White and Mark feel sympathetic for these poverty stricken families and are striving for change with these photos. The woman is alone, she looks as if she has been caught mid motion, as looks out away from the camera.
Documentary photography is trying to say something, these photos are revealing as to inspire help for people in these situations. Her subject, Goudi, looks into the camera as does another women behind her, they seem comfortable but interested with the camera.
Mark captures a larger picture, she includes Goudi’s surroundings as well as the people that she shares it with.
In Bourke-White’s the woman stands alone out of context—as Americans the viewers can only guess where she is or what she is doing. Without the eye contact that Goudi gives, the women in Bourke-White’s picture is disconnected from the viewer and thus not as powerful. By allowing Goudi’s eye contact with the camera and by simply letting the viewer know Goudi’s name, Mark draws the audience into Goudi’s world and makes them see her as a real human. While the subjects are very similar and the sensitive way the two photographers dealt with them is analogous, the actual composition and tonality is totally different. On the other hand Mark photographs in between; her photos either have a great depth to them or they are full of significant details. Mark is more intimate with her subjects, she spends weeks at a time with them, Bourke-White was from a more strict tradition of documentary photography, up until recently documentary photographers tried to keep a distance between them and their subjects, to keep their objectivity.
Photographers now know there is little objectivity to begin with, and it is now understood that getting a more personal knowledge of the subject leads to a more informative picture.



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