Candy Cigarette: Sally Mann, Deb Schwedhelm, Sarah Kirsch, Jon Boden


….well this is the original: and here’s the Museum of Contemporary Photography on a C20th gem:

“Candy Cigarette (1989) is a striking example of Mann’s distinctive combination of careful planning and serendipity. In this work Mann’s daughter, Jessie, suspends her activity and gracefully balances a candy cigarette in her hand, appearing to be the innocent miniature of a blonde and gangling twenty-something beauty. Mann’s expressive printing style lends a dramatic and brooding mood to all of her images.” (Museum of Contemporary Photography)

As it’s so iconic it’s been an inspiration: in particular to Deb Schwedhelm, at two particular points in her growth as a photographer:

“Anyone who knows me…knows that Sally Mann has been a longtime inspiration.  like…HUGE, HUGE inspiration.  Before I knew any better (in the very beginning of my photography journey), I tried to copy her work.  As embarrassing as this is, here is the photo, taken sometime mid-2006 (after purchasing my DSLR,  Jan 2006)…


“Then I began to learn, grow, evolve and begin to discover the artist that I am myself.  And I tried again…to do a Candy Cigarette photograph in my own way (I loved candy cigarettes growing up).  Taken Feb 2007 and I remember being so, so proud of this photograph…


….and then I continued to learn, grow, discover and appreciate…” (

The first one is clearly an homage, but in some ways I prefer it to the second, where the posing is too much in conflict with the “casual” elements.

The next take is by a nineteen-year old photography student, Sarah Kirsch. She has a small gallery on Flickr – this was posted in 2008, and her most recent in 2010 – so heaven knows how the studying went…


…she adds a scholarly note:

“Sally Mann Response Work 2

Illustrate effects of society upon children today.

Shows pressures that children are exposed to be adult.

Is smoking, yet wearing white dress to show innocence.” (Sarah Kirsch,

…at least it isn’t a slavish attempt to copy the original, and has the insight about the white dress: tho we’ll never know how much the MoCP’s “serendipity” had in that particular detail….

Sally Mann Response work 2

….and finally one last student, Jon Boden, who also put a version on Flickr as part of a class project:


He seems to have been without a child model for his attempt, which rather misses the point of the child smoking taboo which is a big part of the original’s visual punch (and he also seems to have to stop posting in 2010).

Reproduction - Sally Mann

One strange added result is how often they’re all assumed to be by Sally Mann: click on the following link if you’re interested…


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