Earlier this month, I was lucky to be able to see an exhibition of Sally Mann’s work, “A Thousand Crossings”, in Paris, which has previously been shown in several galleries around the US. To say that I have always loved Sally Mann’s work does not begin to describe how much I adore her photography. The exhibition included pictures from throughout her career, from her pictures of her children to her later work using the 19th-century wet collodion process. It included a short documentary in which she talks about her work and shows how she makes glass plates. After watching it I felt as though I had been to her studio and met her in person. She is like a wise aunt, but she’s also a philosopher of photography. I particularly like the way she talks about serendipity in photography, and how photographs relate to memory. As it happens I’ve been trying out some new film this summer, inspired by Deborah and Laura, called Psych Blues, which has been hand-fogged so that it has deliberate light leaks. It adds an element of randomness to images, just like the dust in Sally Mann’s glass-plate images (where she sometimes adds extra dust specks on purpose). And it also gives the images an air of nostalgia, as if they already feel like long-ago memories, and I’m looking back in time. So here are four of the images from the roll, paired with quotes from Sally Mann.
“Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”
“Like all photographers, I depend on serendipity. I pray for what might be referred to as ‘the angel of chance’.”
“Unless you photograph what you love, you’re not going to make good art.”
“Photographs supplant and corrupt the past, all the while creating their own memories.”