By Monica Sabella, A&E Editor
The photographer’s name is Sally Mann. A simple Virginian from a small family, her first camera was given to her by her father. She has since taken her photography to a new level. Snapping pictures spontaneously and excessively, she has acquired numerous awards, written books, and was interviewed with her family in a film titled “What Remains.” Mann became known for the depth brought forth by the intensity of her subjects.
“The children were there, so I took pictures of my children. It’s not that I’m interested in children that much or photographing them. It’s just that they were there.”
Mann said, with a mother’s pride, that her youngest model Virginia was “ just beautiful. Like someone who stepped out of the wrong century. A great little model.”
Her son, Emmett, said growing up with an artist like Mann was not always easy. He loved being part of his mother’s art, but it was also difficult, and he struggled against modeling. He expressed relief when his mother finally moved on to landscapes.
“Anyone as driven as Sally Mann is going to be an intense mother,” he said.
Jessie, Mann’s oldest daughter (shown in title picture) appeared most often in her mother’s photos.
She agreed with her brother’s comment, stating that her mother looked at everything with the eye of an artist. Growing up, they lost a mother, but gained something entirely different- a friend, an “artistic accomplice”.
Mann herself is an artist in everything she does. From the way she walks about fussing with her equipment, to the way in which she mutters to herself, in every way the creative genius.
Her husband, Larry, who also appeared in her photographs with their children, described the piles of discarded photographs that littered his wife’s studio. The amount of effort she put into each photo, each developing to be more amazing than the last.
“I think she’ll be remembered best for her landscapes because they required more skill,” says Jessie. Her mother grew up in a very atheistic household, so she felt that photographing nature was Mann’s form of spiritual expression.
Emmett disagreed. He felt that the photos of his siblings would be more impressive.
“She would call us her models, but usually it was just something where she’d say freeze and we’d stop what we were doing. Sometimes she made a few adjustments, but not really,” recalled Jessie.
Emmett said she would have a dream or a picture of what she wanted to photograph.
“I knew what she was looking for. That intensity that my sisters and I have, I don’t know what it is…it plays me to this day.”