The Color of Humanity in Sally Mann’s South

The photographer makes work so rooted in place that it is inseparable from history, from lore, and from the effects of slavery.

We’re in Virginia, where the photographer Sally Mann was born, in 1951, and where she still lives, making work so rooted in place that it is inseparable from history, from lore, and from the effects of slavery. Like Janus, she looks forward as she looks back, at all those bodies that made her and her place in Virginia, and into the landscape, filled with rutted earth, big or low clouds, storybook fantastic vegetation, and the Southern light that reminds so many of photography itself—dark, as Joan Didion wrote, and glowing “with a morbid luminescence.” That entire vision is a part of Mann’s photographs, as she asks in these images of family members, roads, rivers, churches, and the effects of blackness on whiteness and whiteness on itself: Abide with me. And it all does—voices, sounds, the invisible things that Mann’s haunted and haunting photo graphs allow us to see.

Listen: Sally Mann On Exploring Intimate Ephemera and Ethics Through Photography | American Photo

In this interview with Tracy O'Neill, Social Media Curator at the New York Public Library, Sally Mann reminisces on both her past and the creation of her memoir Hold Still. Mann's memoir is undeniably personal and revealing, which brings to the forefront questions of ethics, memories, and privacy. Where should photographers draw the line of privacy, and how much is too much to show?

Pathways from Darkroom to Digital

Eight renowned photographers discuss how they’ve navigated technological changes in the medium.

In a new book, “From Darkroom to Daylight,” Harvey Wang interviews fellow-photographers and other renowned photo-world professionals about their experiences navigating technological changes in the medium. Some, such as Sally Mann, have continued to rely on early photographic processes; others, such as Stephen Wilkes, have eagerly embraced the possibilities of digital. Below are excerpts from Wang’s conversations with those and other artists, accompanied by images that embody each of their photographic practices. The aim in initiating these dialogues, Wang writes in the book’s introduction, is to find out “if other photographers’ worlds were turned upside down when they stopped mixing chemicals and isolating themselves in the dark.”

The Sally Mann Article

Most of the photography world (the part that matters, anyway) is talking about Sally Mann's article in the New York Times, published yesterday. In it, Sally writes at length, and movingly, about the fallout from her 1992 book Immediate Family....

yesterday's Times article made me feel profoundly sad. Sally as a young mother just brimmed with life-force—she was fearless, dedicated, and artistically assured; she crackled with intelligence and integrity. It never occurred to me to doubt her character as a mother, or to question her motives, even momentarily. She loved her kids as much as any woman.

Sally Mann’s Exposure

What an artist captures, what a mother knows and what the public sees can be dangerously different things.

Out of a conviction that my lens should remain open to the full scope of their childhood, and with the willing, creative participation of everyone involved, I photographed their triumphs, confusion, harmony and isolation, as well as the hardships that tend to befall children — bruises, vomit, bloody noses, wet beds — all of it.

Proud Flesh by Sally Mann

When Sally Mann released her book At Twelve in the late-1980s the art world was rife with artists concerned with exploring the body polit...

Proud Flesh is for me an emotionally exhausting work about withering. It has elements of 19th century clinical photography done with absolute loving care for the subject. Its factual surface is quickly replaced by metaphor and the haze of imperfection from the wet-plate collodion negatives she employs

Photographer Sally Mann's best shot

Link: Photographer Sally Mann’s best shot | The Guardian:

Larry was excited about the work from the beginning. We’ve been married almost 40 years, and he has muscular dystrophy. It’s fairly pronounced now, but the pictures don’t show it much; it’s not something I wanted to emphasise. He is a big, strong man, but his bicep is now the size of his forearm, or smaller. It’s got so I don’t want to show it, out of consideration for him. It’s weird: I never said, “It’s going to be obvious you’re losing muscle mass.” But he knows me; he knows I don’t flinch, and he knew what the deal was when he committed to the pictures.

Sally Mann Portrait in Which She’s the Star


Ms. Mann’s approach to her subject certainly had precedents in art. In the 1920s the photographers Imogen Cunningham and Nell Dorr took nude pictures of children in the wilds as expressions of their own interest in naturalism. But Ms. Mann’s images arrived just as the country was beginning to fall deeper and deeper under the thrall of a new culture of obsessive child-rearing, and she seemed, however voyeuristically, merely to be letting her children be.

But she was not letting them be, or so it is implied in “What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann” on Cinemax this evening. It is one of the most exquisitely intimate portraits not only of an artist’s process, but also of a marriage and a life, to appear on television in recent memory.