From Kelly Caminero’s interview with Mariette Pathy Allen for The Daily Beast:
[KC]: Can you tell us a brief description of yourself?
[MPA]: I am a New York City based photographer. After I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an MFA in painting, I took a photography class with Harold Feinstein, a great photographer and teacher. As a result of taking that class, I felt that I was given a passport into the world, that I could go anywhere, and spend time with people I never met before. In the beginning, I worked on projects in black and white, such as “The face of New Jersey” and “People with art”. I also created fantasy series, and invented ways to photograph flowers. In 1978, when I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I met a group of crossdressers. After breakfast, they stood in line next to the inn’s swimming pool. At the moment I raised my camera to my eyes, I found myself looking straight into the eyes of the person in the middle of this line-up, and I felt that I wasn’t looking at a man or a woman. Instead, I was looking at the essence of a human being, a soul. As I took the picture, I said to myself, “I have to have this person in my life”. That was the beginning of my series of work on gender non-conformity. I have had three books published before “Transcendents”. “Transformations: Crossdressers and Those who Love Them”, E.P.Dutton, Inc. 1989.