Sally Mann

A scheduled reminder on my phone occasionally reminds me to keep learning from the greatest photographers. A few weeks ago I thought I'd look more into the work of Sally Mann and came across the documentary "What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann" on Amazon Prime.

Wow. The images of her kids on her large-format camera are so striking, and apparently controversial at the time. It's always interesting to watch another photographer work too, and you can see how much she has a clear vision for an individual shot and the determination and patience to get as close to it as she can. Maybe the format contributes - the necessity to minimize waste (time and cost) and make sure that each image is worth the effort it takes to produce.

Maybe watching the video spoils a little of the magic. The images are based on candid situations, but then constructed and polished to make something more precise. It's a lesson in 'making' rather than 'taking', and it's also beautiful portraiture with elements of documentary.

Personally I find the landscape work less interesting even though it is in some ways equally personal and beautiful. The beauty seems more in sadness and reflection than before, although perhaps that’s part of a natural progression of an artist who is creating very personal work. Her subsequent series about death seems masterful, in the concepts and the progression of the project as it grows and forms.

Another excellent documentary with insights to one of the great photographers.

by Sally Mann


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

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