Friday, March 4, 2022

Photography: "Tiny: Streetwise Revisited" by Mary Ellen Mark

 Photography: Tiny: Streetwise Revisited by Mary Ellen Mark, 2015, 9781597112628.

Mark is the photographer who took photos of street kids in Seattle and published them in LIFE in 1983. Tiny (Erin) was a focal point of the article, and then a center of the film made by Mark's husband, Martin Bell. Mark kept in touch with Tiny and other street kids over the years. She returned to Seattle for at least funeral and photographed Tiny's first of ten labor and deliveries.

Mark met Tiny when she was a 13-year-old street kid with an alcoholic mother. Tiny left school and worked as a street prostitute (It is inaccurate to you call a 13-year-old a prostitute. I cannot think of another way to phrase it.). Amazingly, Tiny - now Erin - was still alive in 2014 when this was published. A follow-up film, Tiny, came out in 2016. 

Her survival is amazing because she was a freaking street kid. Count up all the dangers of living as a homeless and parentless child on the street. Then add in the fact that Erin was a sex worker and also working when the Green River Killer was killing prostitutes year-round.

The book is a collection of photos from 1983 to 2014. Erin and her growing family are the focus. At one point Erin is married. Her oldest son becomes a father. Erin cries and smokes cigarettes. Erin hugs her children and teeny-tiny dogs. Quotes throughout from the children and Erin.

This is a very, very brief look into a woman's life. Only a few shots covering 20 years. A damn impressive woman to raise 10 children after being a teen parent, never finished school, no parental example to follow, survived a crack and heroin addiction, and has likely never left poverty. 


1. I read the book by the lead Detective in the Green River Killer case. He went on to become Sheriff and then elected to other political offices. He also wrote very respectfully of the murder victims. He never called them hookers, he also addressed them by the work as prostitutes. A single word change made a great difference in how I thought about them and their work.

2. Looked it up. Chasing the Green River Killer by Dave Reichert. He was in Congress.

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