Sally was born in May 1951 and spent her childhood amongst the green and picturesque planes of Lexington, Virginia that have clearly influenced her recent scenic work, Mother Land. It was at The Putney School her interest in photography began as she found herself alone in the darkroom more often than outside with her friends.
After graduation, Mann worked as a photographer at Washington and Lee University where she took the photos of their new law building that resulted in her first one-woman exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in 1977. Her second collection focused on the developing identities of adolescent girls and sparked controversy that seems to have loomed over Mann’s prints ever since.
Sally is perhaps best known for Immediate Family, her third collection that captures her three young children playing freely in the nude at the family’s summer cabin along a river. This collection of Sally Mann prints explores both the typical childhood themes of innocence and vitality as well as the darker themes of loneliness, insecurity and death. Time magazine commented that there is ‘no other collection of family photographs remotely like it, in both its naked candor and the fervor of its maternal curiosity and care,’ and named her America’s Best Photographer in 2001.