At the edge

In Film, Inspiration
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Weirs Project Summer | Nikki Gardner

I’m about halfway through Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still and while I planned on finishing the book before insisting you read it, I just couldn’t wait. It’s that good. The book is a stunning portrait of Mann’s family history set in the American South with all the markings of a riveting gothic novel: deceit, scandal, mystery, violence, and love. Like her photographs, Mann’s prose is honest, fearless, and poetic.

Weirs Project Summer 2 | Nikki Gardner

I read this the other night and it struck true for me.  I recently completed a year long film and photo project documenting a small stretch of the Connecticut River. The last two rolls of film I shot were pure dread or perhaps I should say pure work, they lacked joy of discovering what I would find in the negative once they returned from the lab.

City Edges | Nikki Gardner

“When I get asked what one piece of advice I have for young photographers, this is what I tell them: if you are working on a project, and you’re thinking maybe it’s time to put it out into the world, make sure you have already started your next body of work. Not just started, either: you should be well along on it. You will know that the first project is finished when you find yourself joylessly going through the motions to eke out a few more pictures while, like a forbidden lover, the new ones call seductively to you. This new lover should be irresistible, and when it calls, you will be in its urgent thrall, making the work of your heart.” — Sally Mann, Hold Still

City Edges 2 | Nikki Gardner

Then on a whim, I had my camera with me and needed to finish off a roll and while I thought about edges and interruptions in the frame. I made these two cityscapes and found myself interested in disrupting expectations of the frame: a tilted subject and disrupted edge. These are the first sketches so we’ll see where the project goes…

Have you read any good art/photography biographies or memoirs lately? If so, share them in the comments so we can add them to our reading lists!






  1. Nikki : can you recommend any other books along this subject line? “good art/photography memoirs”
    The “Hold Still” book sound very interesting.


    • Mony,

      Some of these I’ve read and others I have yet to read. Here’s my list of art/photo biographies and memoirs:

      1. Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal
      2. “It’s What I Do: A photographer’s life of love and war” by Lynsey Addario
      3. The Daybooks of Edward Weston by Nancy Newhall, Edward Weston, and Beaumont Newhall
      4. Diane Arbus: A Biography by Patricia Bosworth
      5. Ansel Adams: A Biography by Mary Street Alinder or Ansel Adams: An Autobiography by Ansel Adams
      6. Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography by Richard Whelan
      7. Slightly Out of Focus by Robert Capa
      8. George Eastman: A Biography by Elizabeth Brayer
      9. The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes
      10. Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle


  2. I’ve had this book sitting next to the bed for the last few months and haven’t picked it up yet. You have encouraged me to open its pages. Thank you.

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