"My father was a photographer, which meant the house I grew up in contained more pictures than words. Before I could read, I built careful forts using the high-gloss monographs of Yousuf Karsh and Edward Stieglitz, whose portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe fixed me, in my precarious position, with an indelible gaze. There was little escape—Ansel Adams prints patterned the hallway to my bedroom, making the hardwood passage feel like a path cut deep into the Yosemite cliffs.
When I found Sally Mann’s work—its arrestingly private views of family, of bodies, of something too subjective to name—my understanding of the way a photograph bore through the eye, inward, proved useless. Here were photographs so technically familiar, yet completely alien in terms of how and what they showed: the bracing intimacy of a mother’s connection to her child. A wife’s perspective of her husband’s ailing body. She was the photographer who made me realize I’d only ever looked at pictures taken by men."