A World Behind the Scene by Mary Ellen Mark

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Since the late 1960s, I have worked on many film sets. Sometimes a magazine assigns me a story but, more often, I am hired by the film studio as what is called a “special stills photographer.” A special stills photographer works on a film set for any number of days or weeks and makes photographs which are used for publicity or advertising. The advertising pictures are for the one-sheet poster–usually, the concept and design of the poster is the work of the advertising art director and the film company, and I collaborate with them very closely to produce what is needed. The publicity photographs are used for magazine covers and stories. I make some portraits of actors in the studio, but most often they are taken behind the scenes, which has always been one of my preferred ways of working, especially in a surreal atmosphere like that of a film set. Mary Ellen Mark

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