Sally Mann
[Photographer, b. 1951, Lexington, Virginia, lives in Lexington.]

 I photograph my children growing up in the same town I did. Many of my pictures are intimate, some are fictions and some are fantastic but most are of ordinary things every mother has seen; a wet bed, bloody nose, candy cigarettes. They dress up, they pout and posture, they paint their bodies, they dive like otters in the dark river. 
 I keep trying to take better pictures. My approach is one of squinty-eyed doggedness. It would seem mechanical except for those ecstatic moments of luck that occasionally befall me. I am convinced that this persistence has played a far greater part in the making of my work than any special talent. 
 I think my best pictures come when I push myself and tell myself: That’s not good enough; I could do better…. You have to be overcome your fear of the picture and take it. 
 Seldom, but memorably, there are times when my vision, even my hand, seems guided by, well, let’s say a muse. 
 What is the truth in photography? It can be told in a hundred different ways. Every thirtieth of a second when the shutter snaps, it’s capturing a different piece of information. 
 I have found tangible evidence that within this life’s sweet tedium reside certain truths: that nothing attains maximum beauty until touched with decay, that the vulgar and miraculous can be one. 
 The camera was ever-present. It was always set up. And the children knew that if there was some drama or if there was something alluring or engaging or interesting about what they were doing, a picture was likely to be made. 
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