Photographer chooses couples to feature in new prom exhibit

Prominent American photographer Mary Ellen Mark photographed students during the prom on May 17 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica for her “Prom” exhibit.

Throughout the evening, students who volunteered to help Mark for the night photographed different couples for Mark to then choose from.

“It wasn’t really a question of wanting to be photographed,” Robert Barry ’08 said. “She had people running around taking pictures of everyone.”

“It was a little random,” Jason Byun ’09 said. “Someone came up to us and asked if we wanted them to take a Polaroid of us, and that we’d be informed later if we were chosen.”

For Mark’s series, all students are required to pose in a specific manner.

“She made us stare straight ahead, look forward, and link arms. She had us do the same pose the entire time,” Logan Guntzelman ’08 said. “I felt sort of uncomfortable.”

Mark’s assistant, Meredith Lue, said that couples were chosen to be photographed based on their diversity, energy and overall appearance.

Guntzelman thinks she was chosen with her date, Jordan Odiakosa ’08, because they were an interracial couple.

The photographs are unique Polaroid prints, reproductions of which will be available to the students who were photographed. Mark creates the prints from a Polaroid camera, one of three in existence.

“The camera was pretty cool,” Barry said. “It was like six feet tall and very old fashioned.”

“It was so unique. There were only about three slides in it, and it looked like you could take them out,” Byun said.

A compilation book of all the photographs of her “Prom” series will eventually be released, along with a short documentary directed by Mark’s husband, Martin Bell.

“Overall, I felt very honored just to be chosen,” Byun said.