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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 18, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> welcome to the programment tonight sally mann, the photographer, her new book, a memoirs called hold still a memoir with photographs. >> i just started taking pictures. and it was an instant love affair. >> rose: what was it sm. >> what was it? well it's just ecstatic. the joy of looking at a negative you know the fixtures dripping down your arms and you hold it up to the light, it's just mac it's still magic. >> rose: is that more than taking the picture? >> yeah maybe because you take the picture and you are just so fervent leigh pray that you got the tenth of a second that you thought you gotment and so many times you didn'tment you get the tenth of a second either side of the one that you hoped you got. so really it's when you s the effective that the
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moment happens. there is nothing like that moment. i mean i said other times it's almost sexual in its intensity. you're just ecstatic. >> rose: sally mann for the hour an encore presentation. funding for charlie rose is provided by american express. additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: sally mann is one of america's preeminent photographers for three decades she has captured images that are haunting
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disturbing and romantic all at once. her 1992 series called immediate family made her famous. created over ten years. it featured her children at home on their virginia farm. the strikingly beautiful photos deemed a great work of art outraged some of their position and nudity. sally writes about that moment as well as her life and work in a new book. it is called hold still a memoir with photographs. i spoke with sally mann for a rare and can dad -- candid conversation. >> so what brought you to say rather than taking pictures i'm going to write about the taking of pictus and my own life? >> well what brought me there was the massey lectures. i was invited to deliver the massey lectures at harvard. and i thought it was a mistake am i thought it had been misaddressed. it held it with just
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complete mistification. the three lectures are an hour each and they are scholarly, intellectual academic lectures. an it took me a year to say yesment and it was for three years down the road. so i had plenty of time to think about it. >> rose: this is the culmination of a life of photography. >> yeah. it is, but it turned out to be more than that. because when i went-- when i set out to write those massey lectures i went back so far back in time and began to study the whole genetic thread that brought me there. and when up to the attic lake i guess everybody does and dug out auld the -- >> the pictures and the letters and the dried bouttinier, and the shipman ifest and all that stuff. >> rose: but you see your work always to be in life-and-death and men ree
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nd history and place. >> yeah. that may be because i'm a southerner. you foe about that. >> rose: i do. >> yeah, those seem to be --. >> rose: we like to tell stories. >> yeah, we do. >> rose: and dow it with a camera. >> yeah. >> rose: i do it with voice. >> yeah. >> rose: when did this love affair with photography begin? >> pretty early really. 17. >> rose: yeah. did your dad give you your first camera. >> he did. he had a leica that he had taken around the world in 1937 -- 39y-- yeah 37ee. and it he handed it to me with like virtually no explanation, no, this is how you load the film and this little light meter you remember all that stuff. and i just started taking pictures. and it was an instant love affair. >> rose: with was it? >> what was it well it's
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st ecstatic. it was-- the joy of looking at a negative you know the fixer is dripping down your arms and you hold it up to tight. and it's just magic. it's still magic. >> rose: it's that more than taking the picture? >> yeah maybe because you take the picture and you just so fervently pray that you got the tenth of a second that you thought you got. and so many times you don't. you get the tenth of a second either side of the one that you hope you got. so reait's when you see the negative that the moment happens. there is nothing like that moment. i mean i have said at other times it's almost sexual in its intensity. you're just ecstatic. >> rose: and do you see it instantly, the one that -- >> if you know how to read-- yeah, yeah, yeah. even in negative form which is of course reversed, you can tell right away. cuz it's got the proportions and the right feel to it.
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you just know it. >> rose: and you like black and white. >> i do. >> rose: why? >> it's harder. that's not why i like it. but it's harder but it also makes you get right to the essence of what you are taking a picture of. you're not distracted by the color. i mean color is just an entirely different process, way of thinking. >> rose: but the interesting thing is you live on a farm which is full of color. it's green grass blue skies and forest and everything. >> yeah, it's funny though. but see the way my mind works, i see everything in black and white. and i also now start seeing things am like i see you right now in a little 8 x 10 rectangle. >> rose: god help me. >> but you start blocking out things. and that's a really important part of taking a picture is the ability to isolate what you are concentrating on. it even like sometimes when
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i'm reading a book i don't know if everyone does this but i will be reading a book and it will be describing a scene. and i will see the scene in my mind and sort of an idetic vision but i will see it as a black and white photograph, i mean complete with burning and dodging. i will say the sky should be a little darker. there are you in faulkner and he is about to tow himself off the bridge and i will say the river should be dark, and the trees-- i think visually all the time. >> rose: back to putney. >> oh gosh okay. >> rose: what i heard somebody once said that the reason she liked photography is you like the dark room because that is when you and your boyfriend could get together. >> get together, sort of a euphemism yeah. there was that. yeah. no question about that. >> rose: and you took your first intimate photographs there. >> i did. i did. of course immediately got in trouble for it i got in
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trouble for everything at putney. i was just a complete minx. i was a bad girl. but the picture got in me trouble. and it was completely, for once i was innocent. it was a completely innocent picture but it involved nudity. >> rose: we'll talk more about that. >> okay. maybe not too much. >> rose: absolutely because this is a scan of a life and there are so many things that compete with those pictures as part of who you are as a photographer and having to do with family and having to do with landscape t ho do with history as i said. but you wanted to go back to where you came from. you wanted to go back to virginia. >> well i never left virginia. i mean just for the briefest time. and the whole time i was misserable. well pretty much. i mean i missed the embrace of the mountains and the kindness of the people and the-- yeah, the whole
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sweetness of the land. i just, vermont just didn't do it for me. >> rose: the older i get the more i appreciate kindness. >> no kidding. and isn't it funny that the south is just so known for so many unkind acts. >> rose: and violence. >> and violence and prejudice and all that. can have been its boundaries just the sweetest kindest people. most generous. >> rose: so you get a job at washington. >> briefly. >> rose: briefly. and the louis house what was it a building there you photographed. >> it was a law school. i photographed that. >> rose: and then you did an exhibition. >> you have done your homework good grief. >> rose: but it's you it's your life and these photographs sit on top of a life. that's what makes it so -- >> yeah, there's a big pile of them. >> rose: and especially your life. i mean it's family is central. >> yeah. >> rose: you go back to a place where your father was a general practitioner.
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>> yeah. >> rose: your moth her a book store. >> uh-huh. >> rose: your husband is a lawyer. >> yes, b he was a black smith for the first ten years of our marriage. he was a black smith. >> rose: and he loved horses. >> he did love horses yeah he still loves horse he just can't ride unfortunately. yeah. >> rose: but immediate family that came what, 1990 there abouts. >> i think the book came out in '92 something like that. i started the pictures and i said '84 t is probably closer to '85. >> rose: how do you measure getting better? >> i think it's sort of a visual thing. >> rose: you can see the difference in sally mann cirka 2015 an sally mann cirka 19-- 2000, 15 years. >> yeah, yeah. again, i don't know that it's an intellectual process.
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although i may ask myself intellectual questions you know. i think the difference is that i used to be taking pictures to save things. that was the impulse was to either take pictures to save something or to try and see what something would lack like when it was photographed. it was really just kind of an aesthetic exercis. and now it's a lot more important to me to actually say something, i'm working from an intellectual construct and i'm trying to use the photographs in service to a concept. which i didn't start out that way. i didn't start, for instance the family pictures to talk. they were just sort of i was just taking pictures because the kids were around and gradually a construct was built around them. >> rose: that is what immediate family is about they were just around. >> they were documentary in origin. you know they grew less so. >> rose: they grew to become
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what? >> well, they grew to have a narrative around them. an aesthetic an intellectual narrative and met for call implications. you know, they got much more complicated. >> rose: did you know what youere doing? >> no i mean i was-- i think i had begun to make a commitment to the using the commonplace to somehow make images that were resonant and ref la tore in -- revalotory in a aesthetic and lyrical way. and what could be more comment place than children rug rats. >> rose: your own children at a cin. >> yeah. yeah. just the 12-year-olds before that so i was pretty i was becoming more and more-- . >> rose: they were ten and younger at the time.
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>> the 12-year-olds the 12-year-olds were 12. >> rose: . >> you mean the kids they were infants. >> rose: when you took the photographs they were all under ten. >> oh yeah oh yeah. when i started the photographs virginia was a newborn, so yeah. >> rose: and what were you seeing and what were you telling us. because on the one hand it is all the themes of what it means to be young playing, jumping in the water and all that. on the other hand people read into themes of loneliness quiets, sexuality. >> people read unbelievable things into it. that was what was so shocking-- shocking to me was that i knew that they were not without undertones. i knew that they were not simple snapshots. but some of theays that they were interpreted were shocking to me. >> rose: you knew there would be controversy. >> i didn't. but i found out soon enough. i say i was born-- by all
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the things. >> rose: of what people said. >> that you accused you of because you were photographing naked children. >> yeah, there was that. >> rose: had people considered them beautiful and brilliant and --. >> i hope so. >> rose: well it marked you as a photographer. people said a great photographer has just appeared. that was the beginning. >> yeah. >> rose: of sally mann's public. >> yeah, that's true. >> rose: i'm amazed too at the things that you did. you clearly were conscious of making sure you had been talked to psychologists. >> uh-huh. >> rose: you were concerned about not showing photographs that they didn't like. >> right, yeah. i mean i gave them editorial control. in as much as a child can have editorial concern and that's the question. i mean editorial discernment you know. and that's the concern that so many people had. was how could they-- how
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could they know. but they did. they were visually sophisticated kids. and they knew what we were doing. we talked about the photographs. >> rose: what was the conversation? >> well you know, do you like this. do you think this what do you think this picture says does this picture say something about you that you're not comfortable with. >> rose: and what did your husband larry say. >> the same. >> rose: this is a close family. >> pretty close, yeah. >> rose: this is wt these photographs have told us. >> yeah. >> rose: this is a family that has so secrets between them. >> well, i would imagine there are a few secrets. but no, we're a pretty close family even now. yeah, or especially now, maybe. >> rose: now they're all successful adults. how do they see them the photographs? >> i usually answer that by saying you should ask them. i mean they are all in their pos and virginia is right over there, and i suggest you-- consult her.
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i think that they're proud of them. i remember actually it was virginia, she wanted to give immediate family to her math teacher for christmas. even then, yes yeah. >> rose: so they understood they appreciate it. >> they appreciated it. and i think they understood it. that's the argument i make and i'm sure child psychologists will take issue with that. >> rose: here is virginia. tell me about what it was like to live in a household where you had a mother who was obsessed by photographing that which she knew best, her family. >> well, i think one of the things that you may not appreciateut the picture is the fact we were incredibly lucky to have a mother who was at home all the time. and we got to work with her. and she somehow found a way
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to make her work something that we did together with her collaborative so even though she was obsessed it was also just our reality. >> rose: she was taking pictures of your reality. >> exactly yeah. and something we got to do together. >> rose: it felt collaborative. >> shutly. >> rose: this is about us we're part of this. and if we don't want to be part of this, we don't have to be part of it. >> we were proud of it. >> rose: did you want to be a photographer? was there any sense that i would love to do what mom does? >> no, i didn't-- well, first of all i just never showed a aptitude for it. but i never really wanted to go into anything involving photography or art at all. >> rose: are you and your brother and sister different in terms of how you view all of this? >> i don't think so. i think that we're all just incredibly proud of this body of work. and proud of what mom has achieved. and but it's also something that we feel that we've achieved. we've been there through so
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much of it. >> it's collaborative. >> every body of work is collaborative. i mean we've gone through choosing what pick turs are going to be in the show. and we've gone to the openings been with it all. >> rose: even if they were pictures of landscapes. >> well, i don't know how much-- we would certainly give our opinions. >> yeah. she didn't really raise shy children. >> well, i'm not so sure about that. >> maybe not, maybe not. >> rose: this made her famous. and you to a degree. did it have when you look back on it an impact on you. >> i think it did. i think it did. it's hard to say because i was quite young when the book came out in '92. >> rose: you were what 8 6. >> 7 or 8 i think when the book came out. so that was just it was just something that i
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adapted to quite quickly. i think for jessie and them they felt the shift a little more severely than i did. >> rose: shift in? >> in our life. i mean we were suddenly traveling the world and we were, known in a way that we had never experienced before. >> but i think there were moments where it's character building. that's how we sort of -- >> it certainly weren'ted its own unique challenges. i think that there are people who, i mean i find, i would say the biggest thing is that i get quite protective of our privacy. so people who that find out who i am an there's sort of this debate of how did the kids turn out. i don't think that's anybody's business. i am who i am and i have my own identity. and so you know we have pgone through a of that. but it just has shaped who we are. and it was character building. >> rose: character building because it added dimension
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to your life that you had to face. >> exactly. but everyone has their challenges. >> rose: after immediate family, sally moved on. for more than two decades she has been exploring themes of place history and mortality. i asked her where she finds her inspiration. >> it's funny because the way it works for me is that i don't really make a decision about what i want to do next it kind of comes to me. it's like a sort of hidden art lover that you keep to the side and then it calls to you so that while i was taking the family pictures i had this-- i just desire to take landscapes. i know this sounds completely hokey but it was true. and i would have my camer set up and i would rotate the camera away from the pictures and you know again i'm thinking will x 10. i would find these beautiful images on that sort of milky glass of the camera i was just seduced by landscapes. and i was conspicuously
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available for seduction just because of the fact that the kids were leaving home right about that time. well, they weren't leaving home but they were-- . >> rose: you were available for seduction. >> yeah, well, you have-- . >> rose: i'm available for seduction, immediate land scapes want me here mi. >> there you go and they did. >> rose: but it's part of your love for the south. because you write about that here in this memoir. >> yes, yes in soulful proceeds. >> rose: and then there's gigi. >> and then there's gigi. >> rose: you write about her. >> very important to me. >> rose: in what way? >> well i write in the book that i-- i was raised kind of as a feral child. that was the whole 1950s thing. it was very hands-off. i don't know what your chihood was like but-- . >> rose: much like yours. >> i would gone all day long and no one would even look for me.
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>> rose: i had complete freedom. >> uh-huh. >> rose: i could go and come i hano curfew, nothing. >> yeah, me too. >> rose: at no age. >> yeah. and i was-- i was a child. >> rose: my parents trusted me. >> i think my parents just didn'tare. i don't think it was trust. they shouldn't have trusted me. >> rose: well, you know they knew i could take care of myself is what it was. >> well, i had this unneutered beagel and he would go all over for miles we would go. and i remember i would come home and my mouth would be blackened because i played-- remember tar on the road, i would chew the tar when i would get hungry. can't have done me any good but-- and they would-- nobody would care. i wod come hem and they would wipe the tar off my mouth. >> rose: i got ahead of myself too. what remains these are from 2005. >> you probably know thi better than i do at this point. >> rose: that is where you did all the landscapes of the south and you did the
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battlefields. >> after that. rye emittill was sort of linked in with the deep south pictures. then the battlefields. oh i don't know. i'm sure you have it all on a piece of paper somewhere. >> rose: it shows the evolution too. >> it does. yeah. >> rose: what remains what 2003. >> there you go. okay. >> rose: and there it was your greyhound. >> right. >> rose: what was it, was it about dying? was it about understanding death and what it means? >> yeah, it started out that way. just sort of as almost a documentary impulse to-- she died and i couldn't bear to leave her, basically. so i had her skinned and then i took the body and buried it and it ended up decomposing in this almost constellation of little bones. and it went from there you know t was an odd leap to make but i began asking the question about the landscape
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in which she was buried. and. >> re: i guess what is interesting, you get engaged by something like that and boy, you just go on a rampage. >> yeah, no i'm a little -- yeah. >> rose: then because of your dead greyhound you get interested in other dead bodies. >> yeah. >> rose: and decomposing bodies. >> yeah. >> rose: what is your camera telling you. >> i don't know. i-- . >> rose: you just wrote a memoir about it. >> yeah, right. i'm like the dancer pavlof did that wonderful dance an when she was done, all the interviews said what was that aboutment and she said if i could say it in words would i have just danced it for you. >> rose: that's the reason i dance. >> righ >> rose: so your camera is your story not your book the book is part of you thinking about all of this. >> yeah. >> rose: to find some meaning in it, other tha just doing it. >> and it's a huge translation. i mean usually it's enough
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to just take the picture and put them on the wall and assume that you are a good enough artist your meaning is plain right. but then to have to somehow make the translation from you know visual art to written words t was really-- it warely quite interesting. it's a whole different way of thinking, to be able to talk about your work and not so easy it turned out. >> rose: well, john grishham said in hold still, the book sally mann wraps her proceeds around her pictures revealing fine talent for writing. >> well, bless his hearts. >> rose: was were words hard for you writing this to match these pictures because the pictures spoke so intuitively and insightfully to what-- we see, you show us the hard reality or the beautiful reality. >> thank you. well i try to.
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but are you using mortality and death and what happens what remains? cuz that's what you titled it. what remains. >> you mean that show. >> yeah. >> yeah, i mean, you do ask that question, don't you. like lori anderson says i feel like a library had burned down when i lost my father. you do. you do. it's a sort of prouses proust yawn notion of what finally is memory about and what does remain and how do preserve the moment. can you preserve the moment is there such a thing as a after life so to speak. >> -- was involved in that what remains. >> yeah. >> the largest number of casuals ever in an american war reasons right. >> rose: on one day or two days. >> yeah. >> rose: you end because you go back to the living in
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that. you went back to the close-ups of your children. >> yeah. >> rose: to say there's hope and there's a future and we've just seen it. >> exactly. the vitality and fearlessness of those faces that is what i love about those body of work the piures of the work,s this faces. >> rose: you are going from death to life. >> you certainly are. negative to the affirmative, yeah, yeah. >> rose: and then there was in 2009 proud flesh. >> yeah, maybe one of my favorite bodies of work. and one of the toughest in so many ways. >> rose: . >> it is a difficult, you know, any time you make a picture of vulnerable subjects and larry is vulnerable. he has muscular disinterest ofee so whole parts of his body have lost all of their muscle. so his upper left arm is no-- his bicep is no bigger than my wrist at this point.
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no muscle. so asking-- . >> rose: that is what muscular disinterest ofee does to you. and you wanted to do this as hard as it is,. >> it's harder for him though. i mean it was hard for me, but it's harder for him. and when you have a subject who's willing to put themselves out like that and completely unashamed and completely willing to be in a picture that comes at the expense of his vanity-- vanity. >> rose: fragility. >> yeah exactly vulnerability, exposure all that. but all photographic pore trate-- portray ture, that's the risk, always no matter how public a figure you are how used you are to being photographs. you are always at the mercy of the photographer. we hold all the cards and the power. >> and the power uh-huh. >> rose: so therefore can we see trust in him. >> i should say, yeah. >> rose: trust. >> he does trust me.
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>> rose: with these photographs. >> yeah. and there are pictures that i have taken that made me just ache for him. and i would say are you sure you want me to show these pictures. and he said yeah. in a certain sense that measure of discomfort is worth it to him for the sake of what we like to think is a good piece of art. >> rose: what was his response to them? >> after he saw the photographs. >> yeah, yeah i am still photographing him. he's still willing to do it. more than willing he really-- he believes that what we make together is important. >> rose: and a good marriage. >> 45 years. the last time we sat across from each other it was 34 years sork we've managed to put in another 11. wait i'm not so good with math yeah 11. >> rose: 45, you said.
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>> uh-huh. >> rose: 34 to 45 is 11. >> thank you i was frantically working my thinkerment well, you saw my math scores, there is a book. you choses the right profession. >> i did. >> rose: or did it choose you. >> well i think probably that. >> rose: i do too. >> no, it's-- it's a demanding mistress. >> rose: when did the realization you're an artist come to you? you're not just a photographer. >> not the photographer can't just be art. >> yeah,. >> rose: but it's more than taking pictures. >> yeah. well it sort of bifurcated between writing and photography. you know i loved both of them. i wanted to be a poet but how do you earn a living being a poet. it's hard to do. so i guess early on i didn't think of it quite that way. i mean i went around wearing sort of a rakish beret and
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smoking gaulae, all that kind of stuff. i wanted to be an artist. i wanted to look like an artist. the left bank much lexington. yeah, i mean i wanted to be an artist but i wasn't entirely sure i could pull it off. >> rose: and you haven't gone and reached out to every new technology that comes down the pike have you? >> yeah i'm borrowing a little from this digital. yeah i knew this was coming right, yeah, yeah i can't ignore it. >> rose: because gives you power to do things. >> yeah, i can do more things, yeah. >> rose: you can tell your story better. >> yeah. yeah i can get what i want better. i'm not quite clear sure i'm going to give up film or print. i love it. >> rose: that is your liquid isn't it? >> well, it is. well that and bourbon. >> rose: i knew that was the reason i loved you so much. >> yeah. >> rose: silver and bourbon.
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>> rose: that could be the next memoir. >> that is a really good title. don't you dare steal it from me. >> rose: but you have-- i should title this whole spiel sally mann. >> well i pulled it out of the text. there is one part where i'm describing the feeling of taking a picture and like you're going hold still hold still, hold still it is i tall sized because it's that important. but someone said it should be titled hold still sally mann, just because i'm so you know friend etically hummingbirdish. >> rose: you are tough you are tough. >> i don't know. >> rose: you are tough and you're dead-- you're tough on yourself and tough tough on your art demanding a lot of yourself. >> yeah. you live in a cocoon of foochl by you attack the
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world. >> well, just painfully insecure. i have the self-doubt that i said in the book. it masquerades as vanity. other people see my career as one success piled on to another success i see myself as reeling from bosch to bosch, you know failure to failure. it's-- it is a my personality where have you failed. >> god, don't ask. >> rose: i'm asking. >> i don't know i never think it's good enough. yeah, i look back. and you knows i'm obsssively reshooting things trying for perfection perfection those are the goal. >> would you recognize peection if you saw it. >> there are a few pictures that i would say are perfect, perfect, i wouldn't change a thing. >> and what do they contain? >> they're sort of that ineffable something that the gentlemen they say quoi.
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>> what a copout right-- je ne kais quioi. >> but i bet opera stars in a long career are their moments on stage where you knew you had. >> mailed it. >> rose: you nailed it. you had put it together in a way that you can't even here how did you it you just know that night that song you were there. >> yeah and they say. >> yes. and what do they say it feels like. >> rose: like, if i remember beverly talking about it she said it just went -- >> completely ephemeral, transcendent but ephemeral at the same time fleeting, slautsly. >> rose: there's a great story of laurence olivier who had just delivered a
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great skespearian performance and they went backstage. >> one among many. >> many. >> and went backstage to congratulate him some fellow actors. and he had his head in his hands. unbelievable. never been better. you know how good you were. i know, but i don't know how. >> he doesn't know how de it. >> rose: yeah, i don't know how i did it. >> oh, yeah, well the muse that is where a muse step you believe in that because you believe exactly the opposite. >> i know we went through in. you say you did right. >> i thought we should settle this once and for all because i do think there's a sort of weighted sensibility. i think there's a privileged sensibility, and maybe that's what talent is. i don't know.
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but i think it's so vanishingly small in the scale of things. >> rose: i do too. can i tell you that i have come mostly to where you are. >> oh good, so we have changed places. >> rose: i have become postly. because after doing this for so long and talking to so many people of enormous talent. >> uh-huh. >> what or what you think is talent. >> what i think is talent. >> rose: they always talk about effort. how hard it was. >> right, those 10,000 hours. >> rose: they all do. athletes artists. >> so you are convinced now. >> rose: i'm more convinced because my life experience is too, are you good because you most of all becse of the labor. >> yeah. >> that goes into it. >> it's a necessity. you just have to do it and do it and do it until you get it right. >> rose: but i wonder sometimes if what is essentially true is that a select few can reach that kind of greatness and those
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select few of those who had something special had something special but they didn't put in the 10,000 hours, they put in the hard work, they put in-- in the sense of this is not right there is not right. >> uh-huh. but i do think there is some privileged sense ability. and we're not talking here about like proust or mozart. i mean those guys really are geniuses but we're talking about the rest of us who are making what i call ode art i mean we're just regular people without work really hard, and make ode work. >> rose: but when people saw your work, they naw they were looking at something special. they don't see what goes into it, they see what comes out of it. >> i know and isn't that true with everything? every book that you hold up when are you interviewing someone is five years of their life. >> exactly. >> rose: what was hardest about this book? was it the-- was it getting
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it right? >> well, that's always the hardest, the getting right. why should a book take five years. i'm talking about eight ten hour days and weekends too. >> rose: i know. >> you believe me don't you because other people have said this to you i'm sure. >> rose: absolutely. the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. >> no question about it. >> rose: . >> and the difference i remember robert frack was talking about, he lived in an apartment that was a courtyard across from dekuhning and he said he used to see dekuhning pacing back and forth trying to put painting on canvas and he realized that a photographer, all he had to do was hold the view finder to his face and find the decisive moment but when you're a writer or a painter so much more difficult. and that's why it took five years, is because i had to conjure the whole thing up from scratch.
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photography is all about joyces but writing is about choices too about you also have to create the choices. they're not out there in the world for you you. >> do you want to do it again? >> i don't think so. >> do you not. >> i done think so. >> you have nothing left to say? >> god knows. i mean look at that 500 pages. but it's 201nd you talk about everything, you talk about your youth talk about influences on your life. you talk about how photography can change the world. >> i think it can. >> i have a big argument with eugene richards. i think he's brilliant always thought he is brilliant and i you know, made that sweeping announcement that i thought photography could change the world am and he said no you're crazy. and he's been of the people who have been making the photographs that i think change the world. do you think photography can change -- >> i think there is historical facts that change the world.
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>> rose: i do. >> of kos it stopped the vietnam war. >> rose: it did. >> it changed the course of the civil war not to interrupt you but-- . >> rose: civil rights selma. >> exactly. >> rose: it was photographs and moving images. >> mortality and violence. >> yeah. >> rose: that said to people in power. >> we can't have this in america. well it's going on right now. >> rose: yeah. >> i was walking the street yesterday. >> rose: everybody has a camera. >> right, i was walking down the street in new york city and a cabbie was having a fight with a woman on park avenue, just i guess your tad new york argument. and there were three people with their cameras out video taping t was just it wasn't even a fistfight t was like yelling from the window to this woman. i thought wow now don't tell me photography doesn't make a difference. i mean right there it probably prevented something much worse. >> rose: look at something like insgram how obsessed we are about photographs. people rarely get a
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photograph and some text any day of the week. >> yeah. >> so what do you think that's going to do to photography. >> rose: it's clearly changing, the social media has a real impact. >> yeah. >> rose: when we see that with what you were talking about, and you see it globally, we are looking at as we take this we're looking at that-- ed earthquake collapse of the balcony in berkeley so you are looking at a situation how it will people have to respond, clearly there is power, clearly that is influence. >> uh-huh. >> rose: yet it also contains beauty. it can take to you that paint can that film can to a place that only your mind can imagine. >> but funly enough i think it's limited in-- a
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photograph is limited just in terms of what it can conjure, we're talking what it can do politically but i was thinking as we were driving over today, i was thinking this is the way photographs work with memories is so much different than other things and of course going back to proust just the idea of a decollege curling, yellow photograph t is so undimensional and yet there is proof that has texture and shape and form and taste and detail and it's three dimensiona photography is really an interesting and complicated concept the varied ways in which it's usedere is the power, though this is the power in your dark room. you choose what we see. >> right and i see this all the time there will be a
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picture on the cover of a newspaper and a different picture inside. in that case an editor chose. >> right. >> but you choose first beuse you show us the images we are about to see. we may choose among them but you made the first choice. >> yeah, have you ever studied contact sheets like the famous the picture of the little boy. >> it's fascinating, a kid in central park he happens to be holding a hand grenade but there is not weird about him and there are 12 pictures on the roll. 11 pictures are absolutely ode, just a kid standing there, and then this one picture where he makes this terrible grimas and his hands are gluched and of course that's the picture she chose. but when you look at contact sheeteds and you study what people, why people chose the pictures they z it's fascinating. >> well there is the story of "the new york times" reporter who without wrote about it coming to photograph you. >> and basically was having
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trouble was nervous. >> oh. >> i'm going to photograph the great sally mann, i have to be good. >> oh, she was so good. >> but she was worry add you know and she took pictures and you just said finally to her, just shoot. >> yeah. >> that's you what told her. quit worrying about it shoot. >> yeah and she has one of those modern cameras where it just shoots you push it and it is like a machine gun. >> i mean i'm beginning to see the utility of them my god, how can you go wrong monkey at a typewriter just push the button. >> just shoot yeah. >> -- hen re-- once said to me, point and shoot, point and shoot. >> it's just that simple. don't worry about it charlie, just point and shoot, you'll get a good picture. >> all of it is being able to frame it but at the same me she said she looked at
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all the pictures and they were all all out of focus but there was one that you saw of a hand and you said that is the one. we both said it in unison we were scrolling through thousands of pictures and boom just like that. yeah. >> let me talk about family too, about gigi tell me more about her. >> well. >> there was a gigi in my life. >> i think there was a gigi in a lot of people of our generation in the south. they were extremely-- reynolds price wrote a lot about the impornce of that person and particularly if you were just a little oddball a little truman capote and feeded extra coddling or attention or difficult l i was, i don't know-- i'm sure you were not an easy child either right? nd i don't now how your parents were but in my case
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they just weren't available to me. they had other things to do. and she was always there. >> that was fine with me. >> yeah, exactly. >> let me talk about your family, your father and mother, the legal see. >> you tell me. >> well, you know a third of the book is devoted to my father and he deserves every page of it. he is just one of the most complex interesting. >> among other things an eight yuses. >> yeah, he was that he was that-- an aeist. >> and that is the difficult thing to be in the south as you can imagine but he was also contempuous of television and he was very much an intellectual and he s an art lover and he was a foodie and a sophisticated at almost every level. >> probably read "the new yorker" magazine. >> you bet did, and the atlantic and harpers and the new republic. he go the this emma ug. "new york times" and washington poz every sunday. he was just they were very.
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>> they were intellectuals. >> was he happy. >> i'm not entirely sure. i think he probably he was a doctor, a medical doctor but he gave up to be a medical doctor and to be a devoted one, he gave up a great deal. >> he gave up what you were. >> he gave up what you are. >> yeah, he gave up literature and art. and those are the two things he loved. very interesting. >> and he knew it. >> yeah, he did know it. and i think there was a poignancy of squandered genius about him always. >> are you more him than your mother's daughter. >> other than i look almost identical to my mother it's shocking how much i look like her or maybe less so now. >> genetics is true. >> yeah, yeah, i tell the story in the back that i was
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walking down the street in boston onee and a man came up and asked if i was kin to elizabeth evans and he hadn't seen her in over 30 years. and he said. >> i said i'm her daughter. >> you think about all these relationships, the things that you have taken pictures of, i assume gi gish made you interested in later slavery. >> she made me aware of it, but not overtly. she was very circumspect. it was when i went to putney that i was introduced to faulker by a black man named jeff campbell. and even as he handed it to me, i think he must have known that he was opening a door to some very very difficult questions. and yeah those questions just strolled right in. >> what-- what/you done
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what questions have you not answered through photography for yourself? what do you owe us you haven't done? ument's working on this project a touch a little in the book. and it is all devoted to gigi, perhaps a testimonial to gigi and her importance to me but i'm working on pictures of black men and it's bigger than that though i'm work on the legacy of slavery in the south which i think is one of the most underdiscussed and profound phenomenon. and in the whole united states. but particularly in the south and i am particularly focusing on the nature of what kept the slave as life what kept their hope alive and focusing a little on the nat turner rebel wrong. >> how will you do this. >> you think i have an answer to this but i don't quite know yetting i'm
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photographing the swamp and the rivers in the neighborhood -- neighborhoods of the nat turner rebel yen because that is where he was going he was going to the swamp that you ever addefuge to particularly intrepid or desperate slaves because they wouldn't track them into the swamp. >> rose: fear of alligators. >> fear of everything, that place was awful. so now they discovered these towns, so i'm photographing those, it's fascinating. the whole estion of what how slavery has affected the south which is a kind of large topic back men rivers photographing little churches the little the importance of religion. >> how about courthouses. >> you know, that's a good idea. >> are you serious. >> rose: i am serious. >> it is about a certain
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kind of justice and not justice. >> yeah, exactly. >> i was thinking of song too, how that and the night sky i mean surely the night sky was critical importance to etion cape and to communication. anyway i will get around to it, without knows. >> but could you have looked at history so much an because you have looked at death and decay some of do you feel any sense of mortality and rushing to finish so many things. >> oh, i do ever. >> oh all i have to do is look in the mir core-- mirror i done have to look at death and decay yeah. >> what do you see when you look in the mirror. >> well, i'm shocked every time i do. >> wferning yeah. >> how would you like to be on television for 25 years. >> yeah, i know i can only imagine, yeah it's bad enough being on television
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for 25 minutes wferning when they showed screen i was like yeah. that can't be me. >> there is this sense urgency to do a lot. >> there s absolutely. >> yeah, i'm frantic. >> i don't waste any time i don't waste time. i work all the time. i never leave home i mean i just stay home an focus on what is ahead am i'm sure you do too right? it's the only way. >> i am thinking about it too in the enit's love and work fraud and shakespeare, whoever deserves credit. >> love of family love of friends, love of the world around you. >> right. >> and at the same time it's work to find your place. >> and then leave your work. >> yup.
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>> that connects to you to your father. >> yeah. >> thank you for this. >> thank you ♪ ♪
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♪ my thanks to my colleague at cbs producer page kendy for the hard work on the sally mann conversatiod edits. for more about there program and earlier episodes visit us on-line at and charlie captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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. >> on the neck carlie rose our brain series three, episode three looking at gender identity, join us. >> it's unfortunate that shall did -- unfortunate that society often considers transsexuality to be a mental illness or an immoral choice. and because of this transgender people are still often denied basic human rights, they're often subject to violen and in many states transgender
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people could still be fired just for being transgender. but as we have heard today on this program the brain has innate circuits that determine our gender identity. and so being transgender is not a choice that i made. but it's how i was born. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by american express. >> additional funding provided by: and by bloomberg, a provider of plult media news and information services worldwide. >> you'
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announcer: a kqed television production. man: it's like holy mother of comfort food. kastner: throw it down. it's noodle crack. patel: you have to be ready for the heart attack on a platter. crowell: okay, i'm the bacon guy. man: oh, i just did a jig every time i dipped into it. man #2: it just completely blew my mind. woman: it felt like i had a mouthful of raw vegetables and dry dough. sbrocco: oh, please. i want the dessert first! [ laughs ] i told him he had to wait.