Hold Still

Hold Still

A Memoir With Photographs

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Photographer Sally Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by the family history that precedes her. Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: "deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land... racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder."
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316247764
Branch Call Number: 920 Ma
Description: xiv, 482 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 29, 2019

An absolutely incredible memoir with so many dimensions and deep rabbit holes into unexpected territory that my head is still spinning. There's her father looming large, there's her children certainly, there's so much of the landscape and her history of it that you become an honorary resident. All of it through such a strong but gentle, beautiful and deep, insightful and unique voice filled with unexpected obsessions. Such as death. That's an unexpected turn in the memoir, and quite compelling, even if you're super-squeamish like me. (Don't look at the photos toward the end).

The photographs are incredible. I didn't read this because of the photographs but this was like a lesson in photography. And now the world is so much more three-dimensional, full of so many things I lived without ever seeing before. I appreciate everything now. Life, every person in it and every difference and character and strength we all possess, place and the interaction of geography, and the appreciation of all of it. It's the miracle you take for granted until someone pops you out of your steady, unaware thinking and pushes your eyes into focus on the world right in front of you.

And I read it on a kindle, unfortunately. Don't do that.

Aug 15, 2016

This is the compelling autobiography of the photographer Sally Mann, who has a reputation as being "controversial" but doesn't find herself to be so in the slightest. Mann is equally gifted with words, and this is the story of how her photographs of home life in the deep South came to be. Very well written. Very interesting. Sally Mann is whip smart and fascinating.

Jul 14, 2016


multcolib_susannel Oct 19, 2015

Photographer Sally Mann decides to investigate the boxes of family history in her attic to have a better understanding of herself, her family, and her photography. The result is a captivating combination of stories that won't be able to stop reading!

Aug 24, 2015

I enjoyed the parts of this book which dealt with the author's family; and found her writing about the South and the Southern personality well written and interesting. I confess to having skipped large parts of the book dealing with her photography. I also think that the photographs selected for this book do not likely do her skills justice. While I realize that the book also provided her with an opportunity to defend her controversial use of the nude photographs of her children, I disagree with her position and thought that her arguments took up too much space in the book.

Aug 13, 2015

Maybe a little too detailed for me, since I skipped a few sections, but the history of her family, including her husband's family, is pretty interesting. As are the photographs. I had some difficulty seeing some of them as 'art', but since art is a personal opinion, I guess that's okay, too.

stewaroby Jul 18, 2015

A disquieting but fascinating read. I have always loved Sally Mann's work and was so excited to read how it was made. Her story and her prose style exceeded expectations - she is almost as good a writer as she is a photographer. There is so much here; a look at what it means to be an artist, at families, at love for animals, people and land. And so much more. Highly recommended.

Jul 09, 2015

An engaging look at the process of becoming in artistic pursuit, Hold Still is a deeply researched history of the author's family. The saga of her ancestors is placed within the context of southern American history, illustrated throughout with her own striking photography. A good introduction for those new to the work of Sally Mann, this story also provides fascinating background details on the development of many of her controversial photos.

Jun 24, 2015

I am about halfway through this book, and I am loving it so far. I checked it out to see the photographs, but am enjoying the story so much that it hardly matters that the photographs are so beautiful. I can hardly put it down, and can't wait to see what happens next.

Jun 06, 2015

"For me, living is the same thing as dying, and loving is the same thing as losing, and this does not make me a madwoman; I believe it can make me better at living, and better at loving, and, just possibly, better at seeing." Page 415. Sally Mann is best when she ruminates.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
ellensix Dec 17, 2016

I believe that photographs actually rob all of us of our memory.

ellensix Dec 17, 2016

…we can only hope that the evocative Welsh word hiraeth will be preserved. It means ‘distant pain’, and I know all about it…But, and this is important, it always refers to a near-umbilical attachment to a place, not just free-floating nostalgia or a droopy houndlike wistfulness of the longing we associate with human love. No, this is a word about the pain of loving a place.

ellensix Dec 17, 2016

I will confess that in the interest of narrative I secretly hoped I'd find a payload of southern gothic: deceit and scandal, alcoholism, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land, abandonments, blow jobs, suicides, hidden addictions, the tragically early death of a beautiful bride, racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of a prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder. If any of this stuff lay hidden in my family history, I had the distinct sense I'd find it in those twine-bound boxes in the attic. And I did: all of it and more.

ellensix Dec 17, 2016

Photographs economize the truth; they are always moments more or less illusorily abducted from time's continuum.

ellensix Dec 17, 2016

The proverbial hospitality of the South may be selectively extended but it is not a myth.

ellensix Dec 17, 2016

I smoked, I drank, I skipped classes, I snuck out, I took drugs, I stole quarts of ice cream for my dorm by breaking into the kitchen storerooms, I made out with my boyfriends in the library basement, I hitchhiked into town and down I-91, and when caught, I weaseled out of all of it.

ellensix Dec 01, 2016

Of the predictably biblical, epic, and derisive negotiations involved in establishing a value for the farm, the less said the better. Only a gorgeous piece of good land can provoke that kind of piercing despair and dispute. Failed loves, complicated family relationships, broken hearts, errant children, lost lives-- nothing so engages a southern heart as a good piece of family land.

ellensix Dec 01, 2016

One of the theories about why so few successful practitioners of the plastic arts come from the South holds that the heat stultifies us. There is some truth to this, though it may also be time-related; I believe we in the South have a different sense of time and its exigencies.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

LibraryThing Series Information


Find it at CRRL

To Top