I very much enjoyed this interview. I’m a fan of Charlie Rose and I greatly admire his ability to make his guest feel at home. Watching his interviews you almost feel privy to a private conversation between two friends in a room somewhere. Somehow it doesn’t feel as if you’re watching something on TV.

This is his second interview with Sally Mann (the first can be found at Charlie Rose interviews Sally Mann – 2003)
. This one is on the occasion of the publication of her book “Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs“, which is extensively covered in the interview.

A couple of things stood out for me. First the way she described her earlier efforts as being largely ‘documentary’ in nature i.e. the merely recorded things. Beautiful photographs, but merely a record. She feels that her later work has had more to say. I can see what she’s saying, but don’t entirely agree. I think some of her early photographs also have a lot to say.

Second there’s an interesting discussion on the role of talent in any artistic endeavor. In the 2003 interview Ms. Mann felt that there was no such thing as talent: it was all practice and hard work. Mr. Rose seemed to feel the opposite. They both now seem to have reversed their opinions. I remember having a similar discussion with a friend in a pub many, many years ago – back in the days when I was pretending to be a musician. He felt that all that was needed was practice and lots of hard work. I felt that this would take you take you to a certain level of competence, but that to get beyond that you needed a certain amount of in-born talent. I still feel that. I also agree with Ms. Mann that there are also the genius level creative artists (she mentions Proust and Mozart as examples) who are on a different creative plain altogether.

Third, I enjoyed her use of old photographic processes (e.g. wet plate colodion, calotype etc.), a very different look to modern digital images.

An hour with renowned photographer Sally Mann. Mann is best known for her stark, mysterious portraits — evoking family, death, and decay, and deeply influenced by her life in the South. Her new memoir, "Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs" is out now.

via Charlie Rose | charlierose.com.

Leave a Reply