Sally Mann is one of America's most renowned photographers, known for her intimate and controversial portraits of her children, taken at their woodland home in Virginia. Her book Immediate Family, first published in 1992, has been lauded by critics as one of the great photography books of our time, and among the most influential[^1^].
The book contains 65 black-and-white photographs of Mann's three children, Emmett, Virginia and Jessie, who were between the ages of three and twelve when the pictures were taken. The images capture the joys and sorrows, the innocence and curiosity, the freedom and vulnerability of childhood, against the backdrop of the natural beauty and decay of the rural South. Mann's photographs explore the eternal struggle between the child's simultaneous dependence and quest for autonomy, the holding on and the breaking away[^1^].
Some of the photographs are candid snapshots of everyday moments, such as the children playing, bathing, sleeping or reading. Others are staged scenarios that evoke myths, fairy tales, or historical events, such as a child posing as a martyr, a girl holding a snake, or a boy wearing a Confederate soldier's uniform. Some of the images are also disturbing or provocative, showing the children naked, bloodied, sick or injured. Mann has said that she takes pictures when they are \"bloodied or sick or naked or angry\" and that some of them are \"fictions and some are fantastic\" but most are of \"ordinary things every mother has seen\"[^2^].
The book has sparked controversy and debate over its artistic merit and ethical implications. Some critics have praised Mann's work as a powerful and poetic expression of family love and childhood wonder. Others have condemned it as an invasion of privacy, a violation of children's rights, or an exploitation of sexuality. Mann has defended her work as an honest and personal reflection of her own family life and her artistic vision. She has also stated that her children were willing and enthusiastic collaborators in the project and that they had veto power over any image they did not like[^2^].
Immediate Family is a book that challenges and inspires its viewers to question their own assumptions and values about family, childhood and art. It is a book that reveals truths that embody the individuality of Mann's own family yet ultimately take on a universal quality. It is a book that is ethereal, tender and sometimes eerily disquieting: a distinctly human work - at once personal and universal - that is magnetically seductive[^1^].
The book has been reissued several times, with new scans and separations from Mann's original prints, which were taken with an 8 x 10-inch view camera, rendering them with a freshness and sumptuousness true to the original edition. The book also includes an introduction by Mann herself, in which she reflects on her motivations and experiences as a photographer and a mother, and an afterword by the acclaimed writer Reynolds Price, who offers his own insights and interpretations of Mann's work.
Immediate Family is a book that has influenced many other photographers and artists who have explored the themes of family, childhood and identity in their own work. It is also a book that has resonated with many readers and viewers who have found in Mann's photographs a connection to their own memories and emotions. It is a book that has become a classic of contemporary photography, a testament to the power and beauty of Mann's vision and the bond between her and her children. a474f39169