If you are wondering what to get for the reader/photographer lover in your life for Christmas, birthday or just because, then look no further than Sally Mann’s epic memoir Hold Still. It seems since the moment the book came out the reviews were off the charts. Every review that I read praised Hold Still. Can a memoir especially one that clocks in at almost 500 pages be this good? Oh, yes it can. Hold Still did not disappoint. I do have to confess that Sally Mann is my favorite photographer of all time. Yes, there are other photographers that I esteem just as highly as Mann, but if I had to say who influenced my style and sensibility it would definitely be Mann. So with that information at hand you may think I am being biased when I say that Hold Still was an excellent read from start to finish. The plethora of information that you acquire as you read along about Sally Mann’s family just kept tumbling out. Her family history is absolutely fascinating and just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more family secrets to top the last one lo and behold I would find myself swept away in an even more “did-this- really- happen- in-her-family?” anecdote.
Of course Mann also writes about the famous (nude) pictures she took of her children when they were young. I have always loved these beautiful and intimate photos, and as a mother and photographer myself I have often wondered, given all the hoopla her photos gathered after showing them to the world would she do it again? This particular chapter illuminates Mann’s thought process on what led her to photograph her children in this manner, and yes if she had to do it again she regrets nothing about these pictures. Good for her. Good for us.
I walked away from this book with a better sense of the woman behind the lens. Resonating strongly throughout the book is Mann’s distinct voice. Her soft southern accent, unique personality and wicked sense of humor is what makes you feel as if Sally Mann herself were sitting across from you and telling you her life story; and her life, career and family history has been an incredible one. What I encountered in Hold Still Sally Mann is a woman who is brilliant, contemplative, connected, strong, extremely independent and a lover of life. I’m so thankful that she decided to write this book and I think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.