Renowned photographer Sally Mann’s new memoir, Hold Still, is a breath of fresh, Southern air. Stories of her family—past and present—as well as anecdotes about her deep love of the southern United States and her photography sojourns are interspersed with her beautiful photographs.
Mann generated controversy in the 1990s for her photo collection “Immediate Family,” which featured many pictures of her children, some in the nude. No matter how you feel about these photographs, its undeniable that they are striking, and the work of someone deeply talented. Her other work is equally breathtaking, particularly her haunting landscapes, many of which are taken at and near the farm where she was raised and continues to live, in Virginia.
Hold Still is written at an almost soothing pace. Mann spins out stories of generations of family troubles, and analyzes deeply who she is today. Excerpts from years of letters and diary entries compliment her stories, and add unique details and perspectives to situations whose outcomes have been altered by the passing of time. She writes at length about her beloved South and the deep-seated sense of place that she has found during her lifetime there. I loved becoming more familiar with Mann’s work while also reading this fascinating account of a memorable life.
For more of Mann’s photography, check out Deep South and What Remains.