Friday, January 14, 2011

"Candy Cigarette" by Sally Man


I was looking for an image to attach to yesterday's post when I ran across this website of black and white photography. I am a big fan of the genre. It is stark and real when it needs be, yet can also soften some things. It is versatile in a way that color photography cannot be. Here is the link to some more of Sally Mann's work, as well as the photography of others;

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/

The photo above is a still life, with what I see as social overtones. When I look at it, I am struck by symbolism. I see a young girl, wielding a candy cigarette, and I am confronted by thoughts of what her present life must be like, as well as what her future may hold.

The false glamour of the candy cigarette sends, to me, the message that this is a young girl at risk. She has already, at a tender age, been sold a false picture of what "glamour" really is. She will probably struggle with that impression for the rest of her life as she looks for her true self.

Of special interest in this photo, is that it is really three photos in one. The little girl on the right, with her back to the camera and hands at her hips, face hidden, almost expresses her disdain and contempt for the photographer/viewer. The boy in the left foreground, on stilts, is above it all, pursuing his own goal.

Still, another interpretation would be that the girl with the cigarette is guarding the "secret" world in which she lives. She is posed as the "protector", while the younger girl watches the boy on the stilts, unconcerned with the viewer because the older girl is watching out for her.

The picture was taken in 1989 by American photographer Sally Mann, and appears in her book, "Immediate Family." There appears to have been some sort of controversy surrounding the work, apparently due to some partially nude photos of young children in rural settings, unposed. Some of those photos may appear in the link.

A remarkable photo by Ms. Mann, it really grabbed me and made me want to see more of her work. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can view more of her works at;

http://www.slideshare.net/blindlibrarian/sally-man

Some may find a few of the images a bit too revealing for their liking. Just a warning. I, myself, find nothing offensive in the way these photos are presented. I will be looking at more of Ms. Mann's work. Her use of light and texture, as well as subject, make her a very interesting, and somewhat unusual, photographer. And those are usually the ones who take the best pictures.

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