Sally Mann “Place”

Sally Mann is a photographer that has been heavily criticized for using her children as subjects in her photography. Usually naked or barely clothed, many have said she is sexualizing her children by using them as models.

In the Art21 interview I watched there was multiple other artists that were featured. In the segment right before Mann’s was about a sculpture artist called Richard Serra, who creates large curved wall installations made from sheet metal. Followed with the segment about Mann got me thinking about creating space through photography. Serra’s work is so large and sculptural that photography couldn’t possibly capture it’s beauty, you need to be experiencing it in person to truly understand the piece. On the other hand, Mann has seemed to capture her whole life within these photos and even though her kids have grown up and don’t really want to be models anymore, she still continues to photograph the landscape where she lives.

In the video, there’s a part where her daughter says that people are going to remember her for the work that she did on the landscape photos. In my opinion they hardly compare to the photos of her children. The emotion and then beauty that is expressed in those portraits are so uncanny and interesting, no landscape could ever replicate the emotion in them. Which is something a lot of photographers work their whole lifetime to take just a few photos that could come close to the talent that Sally Mann can produce almost effortlessly.

I think the difference in success between her landscapes in her portraits is significant, one conveys emotion and her life and one is showing her life in a different way where her life takes place. I think both of the subjects matter are successful but the portraits are what she will be known for.


Photo from:

Sally Mann, Untitled (Antietam #11), 2001. Gelatin silver enlargement print



Photo from:

Sally Mann, Virginia at 6,
from the series “Immediate Family”, 1991