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What Remains

The film that I watched was called What Remains – The Life and Work of Sally Mann (2006), directed by Steven Cantor. I really enjoyed watching this film because it told the story of Sally’s personal life and how she evolved into the type of portrait photography that she did. Mann’s three main features in creative process involved getting in touch with the people that surround her, going out and taking pictures seemingly ‘insignificant’ things, and bringing back old styles of photography. I noticed Sally would only take black and white photographs using a very old-fashioned style camera and editing technique. This style of photography brought an edge to her art. 


Sally’s first inspiration was from her children and husband. She began taking photographs of her children at a young age and created a series of her personal family life. By taking these photographs it helped her gain a sense of who she was as a photographer and the content she was interested in. The way that she depicts people is very natural and fulfilling. When photographing her husband there were many vulnerable moments that showed the intimacy and comfort of a married couple. This series depicted how natural and refreshing her photography is.


Because Sally lived in Virginia, she particularly took photos in nature around her community and family. Several years later she had a traumatic incident where a man died on her ranch by escaping prison. This experience made her start to contemplate life and death. She then began a series of photographs surrounding that concept and it was possibly the most notable work she has done. Those first images surrounded the bones of her late dog, and then she progressed into human remains. At the end of the series, she took many portraits of faces close, and that symbolized the organic circle of life we all share. 


Sally Mann is one of the most talented photographers I have seen so far and has a richness of creativity when shooting people and a great sense of composition. This documentary was fascinating to watch and I can gladly say that Sally Mann is one of my new favorite photographers. 

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