Sally Mann, born May 1, 1951 in Lexington Virginia, began her career as a photographer as a staff photographer for Washington and Lee University. Mann first became known from a one-woman exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington in 1977 displaying photos she took of the construction of a new law building. Mann is well known for her collection At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women. This collection illustrates the in-between, confusing phase which young women experience between female childhood and the adult world of women.
Following that collection she did a series called Immediate Family (1992) which some people thought of as child pornography because it consisted of nude images of her children. However, the controversy over the images of her children drew in much publicity, which helped Mann become more well known.
Recently Mann has been taking photos using scratched lenses and damaged cameras, which require the photographer to use their hand as the shutter, to create unique light exposure and ghost like images. In 2001 Mann was named “Photographer of the Year” by Time magazine. Sally Mann prefers to do all of her work on her own and has no fondness for digital technology. She usually uses an 8×10 large format camera and enjoys experimenting with early developing processes.
Sally Mann’s images, in my opinion, are absolutely beautiful and realistic. While many of the images are controversial, they are realistic and have something very organic about them. In reading interviews with her children, who are now more grown up, they say their childhood was very free and simple. They loved to play and just be children with their family. Many people twist this idea of children being nude, when in actuality God intended for us all to be nude. I love the emotion portrayed in each image because each one has their own feeling to it. The way the she captures the sentiment of the children in her Portraits of Young Women is gorgeous. I also like how some of her images have a mystical and surreal feeling to them. A photo I love below is called “Blowing Bubbles.” This photo reminds me of the freedom you have when your a child. My sister and I, who were once these ages, used to love going on adventures outside and just being silly girls. There is something so sweet and natural about photography that captures the real aspects of growing up.
Here are some other photographs by Mann that I think are so eye capturing.