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  1. #21
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickjames View Post
    I have never been a big fan of hers, but I do think the early work is good, although if her children were fat and ugly, no one would know or care who Sally Mann is today. She benefitted from the controversy, similar to Sturges, of adolescent nudity in her images whether she planned it or not. I am not too comfortable with some of it, but I would take it over Sturges' work any day of the week. At some point though her children, which were the subject of her success, didn't want to be photographed any more and I think that it caused her to try radically different things. Her work changed from a sort of honesty to relying on artifice or superficiality born out by the process of collodion. The fact that she wants all of the defects in the plate, and even encourages the defects, seems to be a crutch that could be the result of her insecurity after her great success. The images that came after her family work haven't been greatly received, and the dead body images even resulted in having a show cancelled. If you see this in the documentary, it clearly shows her questioning what was happening. Her return to photographing her family, by photographing her husband, can be seen as an attempt to return the familiar, to what made her a success. She is concentrating too much on the morose if you ask me.
    That's pretty much how I see it too.

    Quote Originally Posted by patrickjames View Post
    (snip)I would remind Ian that the same could be said (although I am not saying it) for 8x10 platinum prints.
    I totally agree. And I've made some of them

  2. #22
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    I must admit that I don't really get wet plate collodion. Yes, it's an interesting and demanding process, but the argument that dust, crackles, blurs and thumbprints somehow enhance the photograph doesn't cut the mustard with me. That's a bit to much like art school conceptual art for my liking.

    With exception of Katie Cooke's fabulous still lifes, I don't think I've seen a single wet plate photo that wouldn't have been better made with film.

    It feels to me that in many cases, photographers are adopting wet plate either because it is fashionable or because they have lost their confidence. Neither of these are a sound foundation for making good art.

    I know this is partly a matter of taste, but it's also more than that. Boring pictures are boring pictures, even if they are made with a fashionable process.
    I think that's the biggest challenge for wet plate. Caveat, I've taken a workshop in it, and toyed with the idea of using it, but it's one of those mediums that seems to take over the message of the picture, so it's hard to use, and use well, where the medium enhances the message, and not become it.

    I like Ellen Susan's portraits of soldiers... somehow the process brings to mind the whole history of photography, and the history of warfare (they recall a lot of Civil War era images in the U.S.) that I find really interesting a full of questions. And they are quite honest portraits of those soldiers heading into harm's way... for what?

    She's far more careful with her process, and though the occasional flaw may be a good thing (or not) Mann relies far too heavily on being sloppy, which is too bad... I think the work suffers for it. Still, the Proud Flesh series is quite moving, and if they were made with a bit more care, I'd probably respond even more favorably.

  3. #23
    patrickjames's Avatar
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    I should say too that history will likely look more kindly on her recent work than the art world does now.

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