Sunday, October 18, 2009

6.2 Photographic Hero

Crabbing At Pawleys
Into The Flesh

Damaged Child

Sally Mann

"Few photographers of anytime or place have or will match Mann's steadiness of simple eyesight, her serene technical brilliance and the clearly communicated eloquence she drives from her subjects, human, and otherwise. Subjects observed with an arbor that is all but indistinguishable from love". Time

As I was researching for this project, there really didn't seem to be much in cyberspace that emphasized individual critique when it came to Mann's work. So I did my best to dig deep and found as much as I thought necessary to create this entry. Enjoy

Composition and style:

From what I gather, and if it isn't horribly obvious, Mann has an natural eye for divine composition. Most of her early work is said to be inspired by her fabulous home is Lexington, Virginia where she was born, and to this day still calls home. She has spoken about using the light and atmosphere of the south as the conduit to the final photographic results. Her style is an absurd mixture of obscene, disturbing, ghosty, beautiful images. On the collodion process: In her goal of producing an interesting or mysterious
image Mann was able to incorporate the flaws of the collodion process including chemical streaks and blotches and dust spots into the aesthetic of her work. The resulting images, which are flecked
with marks and blemishes from the sticky collodion negative,are unnervingly similar to their historic counterparts.

Camera and Technique:

Along with using large format as a prime tool, she also uses the 19th century inspired Wet Plate negative technique, a process that is historical in itself. With a process so "cranky" and "meticulous", and chemicals almost impossible to find, she has mastered this interesting phenomenon in her own way. According to her, people have even died during this process, from ingesting the liquids. geessh! She admits that her equipment is of no admiration. Rather than buying pristine, expensive, brand lens, she will spend all of her time in antique shops looking for the lens with just the perfect amount of decrepitude. While most lens's are an effort of many glass elements working together, most of hers have multiple pieces missing , throwing off the relation to one another.

"You can tell a good ruined lens right from the get go. They are the ones you find in the trash cans of old photo studios in some ghost town in Iowa. I mean, thats the kind of lens I'm looking for." Sally Mann


Damaged Child (1984)

I find this image to be especially beautiful. Shot with her 8x10 view camera, I am absolutely taken back by the gorgeous focus on
the face, the shallow depth of field, and the very noticeable grain.
I think the choice of lighting for the face provided a nice luminosity and really highlighted the texture of her hair and skin.
Not to mention shines insight onto the dramatic expression on the
girls face and in her eyes. I personally wouldn't go as far as to
recommend that the composition be tweaked at all. Though subjects
shouldn't alwaysbe centered, it really works well for this
particular style. If the girl were to be more to one side, I don't
think the same energy would have been achieved.

Crabbing At Pawley's (1989)

Crabbing At Pawley's is so well done that I am almost skeptical
that this one was staged prior. There is so much to work with here.
You have your ocean background, what looks like a bird in the sky to
the right, and so much action in one frame. I love the fact that
she was able to capture a pretty intense emotional moment amongst
the movement of the other subjects. The focus is dead on, the light
beautiful.I get this still energy when I look at the focal point,
then realize there is movement everywhere else.I wonder is she
asked them to move around, but not block the shot? Hmm. I imagine
taking everything else besides the girl and scenery out of the frame,
that would be a beautiful photo in itself.I am not sure if any cropping
was done, or if it would have made a difference, but for such a busy
environment,I think she captured this well.

Into the Flesh (2009)

This is Mann's most recent work. A series of nude and non of her
husband using the Collodion Process. I don't know what to say about
this piece. It is amazing, very cryptic, ancient feeling. Can you
really critique something like this, something so surreal, irrelevant
to current culture and processing, if you have no experience with the
technique or the process? I felt wrong doing so, but then decided
against myself.Considering the amount of work I know goes into this process, and the
cost,I think it is fantastic in itself. I like the centered subject once
again, the minimal, yet strong lighting. The texture is nice, along with
the really shallow depth of field. The flaws are interesting, all
of the scratching and chips. I think she really accomplished the
nineteenth century effect she was going for. This image is strong,
mysterious, and very poetic. Overall a great exposure.



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