How difficult is it to tell a story in a single frame? It happens rarely, and in the case of this photo by Mary Ellen Mark titled “The Damm family in their car” taken in Los Angeles in 1987, there is simply everything. Not just the story of a family at a specific time of its life, but also of a whole country.
Well, kinda yes, but mostly no. This is a beautiful photograph. It certainly is capable of standing on it own merit. And, yes, it tells a story, augmented by exquisite tonality and brilliant composition; but it’s only a single chapter from a poignant and more fullsome opus. It can stand alone, but it was not intended to eclipse the rest of this body of work, this photo story.
You should point out the other photographs in this series by Mary Ellen Mark. The whole is greater than the sum of it parts, so the sage once said.