Sally Mann great photographer or glorified child pornographer?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by blackrose89, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. blackrose89
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    blackrose89 New Member

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  2. cgipson1
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    cgipson1 New Member

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    Nudity is not porn.. (except in the minds of some religious nuts). Naked children presented in their daily lives, I have no problem with.. as long as it is done tastefully.

    I find something like the Jon Benet fiasco far more disgusting.. when a young girl is made up to look much older, and to act much older also.

    Unfortunately in our society, we have enough sick people that prey on children.. that it makes the wisdom of either nudity or child beauty pageants questionable.
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  3. Natalie
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    Natalie New Member

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    I would say her photos definitely aren't pornography... The children aren't engaged in sexual activities or being portrayed in an overtly sexual manner, so she can't be called a pornographer any more than an artist working with non-sexual adult nudes could be. There is a definite double standard when it comes to gender with this sort of photography though; just imagine if a man was trying to do the same sort of thing, everyone would go completely nuts.
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  4. mwcfarms
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    mwcfarms New Member

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    Very accomplished photographer regardless. Some people's opinion may differ and thats ok.
  5. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    Many years ago, it was no big thing for children to be naked and have their picture taken. Lots of people would be in jail for babies on bear rugs:er:

    Even Jock Sturges nudes on the beach in France are bland imho and he took a terrible hit about them.

    These days people are "crazy" and cameras are the new guns.

    Her work does seem to be very polarizing but I won't call it porn.

    I happened to like her work.

    The history of photography is full of polarizing people, art seems to do that far more than some realize.
    We could list a whole slew of folks that many on this site and others like it don't understand, get or approve of the work. My feeling is that they aren't trained photographers, basically serious amateurs who have limited understanding of photography as an art form. This doesn't mean they shouldn't have an opinion, but many times that opinion is based on limited knowledge.

    Just my 2 cents.
  6. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't seen it , rent What Remains from Netflex, very en lighting video about her, her family and the work.
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  7. cgipson1
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    cgipson1 New Member

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    Ann.. thanks.. will check that out! :)
  8. Trever1t
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    Trever1t Well-Known Member

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    I saw a naked kid in the tub on America's Funniest Home Videos yesterday and I see no porn in this artist's port. I do see images designed to invoke emotion, well done at that!
  9. jwbryson1
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    jwbryson1 New Member

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    I may be the minority here, but nudity on a child from the waist up (bathtubs, beach, etc.), seems okay to me. These images that have nude young girls with full frontal nudity make me sick and I think are probably viewed more often by pedophiles than by "accepting" adults for their "artistic" content. Just my $0.02.
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  10. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    I do believe that pedophiles seek these images out, but that is not the fault or the intent of the photographer (at least not the ones I am talking about)

    Different intent, different world.
  11. paigew
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    paigew Well-Known Member

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    I do not think that her work is pornography or anywhere close to it. Anyone who has a child knows kids love to be naked, and her photos just capture that. I am sure though as mentioned pedophiles do seek these images :( There is no way to prevent sickos from getting off on what pleases them.
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  12. jwbryson1
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    jwbryson1 New Member

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    Sorry, I have to respectfully disagree. That's like saying that a person who drives drunk and kills another motorist is not at fault for driving drunk because they didn't intend to hit the other person. If you put these images out there, then you are de facto "at fault." You may choose to disagree.

    I could not view these images. Sorry. Not my cup of tea.
  13. unpopular
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    I am not sure if pornography is the right word, but I don't know if the nudity is appropriate, either.


    Take for example these images:


    fans of sally mann - susannacole: Big Burger by Sally Mann
    http://www.theconveniencestore.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/prof_11_sally_mann_pose-775091.jpg
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MWiLOKJU3...lly-mann-immediate-family-3.jpg



    Why are the children nude, why are they posed the way that they are, what does this say about childhood, what does this say about the subjects themselves? At a fairly young age, around six, children begin to have a sense of privacy. Even my three year old son doesn't particularly like having his private parts cleaned, he is beginning to develop a healthy sense of privacy.

    A 10 year old girl would not normally sit at the table topless. An eight year old boy would not be seen "hanging out" with his nude sisters, a seven year old girl wouldn't normally play about half naked.

    These are not family pictures brought out to embarrass the fiancé of our daughters, or looked over as our son builds his courage to meet his date before prom. They serve no purpose except to hold these kinds of discussions about pornography and art - perhaps not pornographic the children are not being exploited for primarily sexual motivations, but nonetheless, the children are being exploited.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
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  14. cgipson1
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    cgipson1 New Member

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    The are emulating Mom and Dad, and friends, and teachers.... what they are being taught!

    In other cultures, that don't have the silly religion based bias's that we have in the US.. this is not the case. Nudity is accepted in some cultures for what it is.. just nudity.... but it takes the narrow minded to take something natural and beautiful, and make it dirty and "sinful"! :)
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  15. Proteus617
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    Proteus617 New Member

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    Faulty reasoning there. Check out Maxfield Parrish's Daybreak. An image that includes a very young nude girl with a somewhat erotic subtext. One could make the argument that it would appeal to a pedophile. By your definition, Parrish was a pornographer and the painting and all subsequent prints are pornographic. My grandmother had a very nice print of "Daybreak" that hung on her wall for 50 years. According to Wikipedia, it's one of the most popular art prints of the 20th century and hung in an estimated 1 in 4 American homes.
  16. unpopular
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    Yep. And Mann is an American photographer photographing American children with American cultural values.

    But these are not documenting culture, they're about questioning it and pushing societal boundaries in the most sophomoric means possible.

    If she were from some other culture (which one is rarely discussed) where preteen children frolic about in the nude for no particular environmental reason that would be another issue. But she isn't, and she knows this.

    It's not porn, but it is cheap. It's shock rock art. It's Alice cooper biting heads off chickens. It's Marilyn Manson in Coma White.

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
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  17. blackrose89
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    blackrose89 New Member

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  18. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    There are several things at play here. First her children have been photograph there whole lives, and in fact one of the girls is now a model and loves posing and she herself (meaning Sally) indicates the success of these images is the result of the power of their personalities.

    Secondly they grew up on a farm and in a time when the culture was much different and it wasn't unusual for children be to naked. . I serious doubt she (Sally) ever intended that these years would considered porno

    There are other photographers who have created a lot more waves than Sally, consider Shelby Adams, Cindy Sherman and of course Diane Arbus.

    For instance, I had an aunt who used to drive a tractor , plowing the fields with as little clothing on as possible, and this was as an adult. I mean topless.
  19. c.cloudwalker
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    c.cloudwalker New Member

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    OMG!

    If there is one thing I don't miss about the US this is it. Of all countries I've known, we are the only one that manages to mix extreme sexual obsession with extreme prudishness. We need to get right in our heads on the one side so that we have a chance to get right on the other.

    I love Sally Mann as a photographer. Since I haven't watched the movie Ann mentions (not for the first time, btw) I don't know if SM was trying to push the envelope or was just a woman of her time. I can't find this movie here.

    But I can tell you one thing for sure. I have been trying to push back the limits because I hate them just as much as any other kind of stupidity. This hate started some 25 years ago when a french friend came to spend the summer with her daughter.

    We registered her daughter in a day camp for a few weeks so we could go and shoot during the day. Then came the swimming pool day and my friend took her daughter there, dropped her off with her bag and we went shooting.

    You should have seen the uproar when we went and picked up this kid. "Your kid's swimming suit doesn't have a top!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    My friend was like: "She is 8 y.o., she has nothing on top. Why does she need a top?" Since I didn't get it either, I couldn't help. Let's just say we had to find another day camp after buying a suitable swimming suit :(

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    And, to respond to some of the posts, yes, it is a cultural thing. But when there is something in my culture I don't like I fight it. And this is one thing I find ridiculous.


    I'll leave you with two thoughts: 1/ In her book "C*nt" Inga Muscio mentions the fact that the more sexually repressed a country is and the more crimes are comitted against women. The US has the most crimes against women of any of the first world countries.

    2/ I worry quite a lot about the people who have a problem with Sally Mann's photos. Do they have a problem with their own feelings?
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  20. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    I have seen the movie Ann referred to, as well as another Sally Mann documentary. She was a very skilled photographer, with a slightly unusual (for the US at least) outlook on life. I don't see this images as pornographic at all; some are of questionable good taste IMO, but I think her real intent (and this is based mostly on "reading between the lines" from her bio documentary, was simply to push people's buttons. Seems to me, she did a good job!

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