Sally Mann is a photographer, but not in the full conventional sense. Her work is that of spontaneous, photographing what was there in front of her, with the old 8×6 camera. The subjects were namely her children, with few of her photographs being staged. She wanted those holiday snapshots – photographs that allow you to remember the moments forever.
There is an intensity throughout these photographs, and with the photography process. Mann believes that this comes from her father, who was an art collector, and was the one who gave Mann her first cameras.
Mann has a very juxtaposed family in which her mother is very Northern, and yet his father is from Texas. When Mann was born, her family somewhat gave up with looking after their children, so she grew up without wearing clothes. Mann bought her own children up in this way, because she believed that this was the norm. Therefore, her children were photographed naked, which has caused a lot of controversy within the art world, with many of her shows closing due to the viewers it attracted.
Though her photography had progressed as her children grew up, Mann found that her photographs were looking like fashion shoots. This is not the intended story behind them, and thus she moved onto work with the landscape. The landscape, now that her children have grown up, are like her expression of god and spirituality and allows her to maintain the beauty of what is around her.
Initially, I was captivated by the intensity of some of the photographs Mann has taken – the stare straight into the camera of the naked, pale child against the harsh darkness of the water. Thinking into this more, the fascinating part is the social norms in their family of growing up mostly naked, and how this has been finely documented through day-to-day activities and playfulness.