Her main focus was photographing what she loved and making art out of the everyday and ordinary. That being said, Mann is known for the controversial photographs she produces, creating artwork that challenges viewers' values and moral attitudes. She was okay with that tho, because she aimed to make people think and reevaluate their beliefs, opening her photographs up for interpretation and reflection.
When I was researching her, I found out that she has a DVD out titled, "What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann." I ordered it and watched it. It just follows her through her work at her home in Virginia and shows her family life and how she integrates that with the photographs she takes. This DVD contains an unbridled access to the many stages of Mann's work, and is a rare glimpse of an eloquent and brilliant artist.
A lot of the photographs in the series explore typical childhood themes like skinny dipping, reading the funnies, dressing up, vamping, napping, and playing board games. Others touch on darker themes like insecurity, loneliness, injury, sexuality, and death. In a way, she encompasses what is mean by the term "growing up," conveying the whole, all-encompassing concept of childhood.
When the series was released in 1992, it was very controversial. Some people saw the images and exploitative images and child pornography. Mann responded to the accusations by saying that the photographs are, "natural through the eyes of a mother, since she has seen her children in every state: happy, sad, playful, sick, bloodied, angry, and even naked."
Candy Cigarette, 1989
Jessie and the Deer, 1985
Jessie at 5, 1987
The Wet Bed, 1987
Sunday Funnies, 1991