Photographer Sally Mann

Photographer, Sally Mann was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1951 where she still lives with her Husband.   She began photographing her three children on the family property in the summertime of 1984.   Being summer, the children spent a lot of time in swimming costumes or totally naked.   This created a set of photographs that were disturbing, controversial and often highly debated.   She works with a large format camera and is known for her black and white photography.   I chose to profile Sally as she started her career photographing her own children, which is something I have in common with her.
Photograph 1 – Virginia in the Sun
Photographer Sally Mann has used many visual strategies to make Virginia in the Sun (see illustration 1)   is a very confusing photograph.  It is beautiful to look at yet it brings on emotions about death.  For a moment the viewer is left wondering if the child has passed away or is ill.   This leaves a somewhat uneasy feeling along with a feeling of sadness and concern for the child.  Mann’s use of the sheer material over the child give the photograph that uneasy feeling is a very interesting visual strategy.  Without the sheer material, it is highly likely that the photograph of ‘Virginia’ could almost be just like any other snap shot. 

 Typically a body covered from head to toe with a ‘sheet’ is that of a deceased person – yet through this sheer material the viewer can see a glow of light from the left hand side.  It is this glow that makes the child look warm, and peaceful which then forces to viewer to question their original concern about the sleeping child.  Mann has used a small depth of field, making the child’s face in focus yet the below the child’s waist it is impossible to tell if the child is wearing a nappy or if the child is naked.

Another visual strategy Mann has used is the high contrast of the shadows.  The shadows are very dark in comparison to the sunlit child.  In some areas the detail of the...