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Rock Street, San Francisco

Sally Mann, the author of the photograph, shot this
picture in 1989 and is part of a series where she portrays confusing
and developing identities of preteen girls. This photograph, Candy
Cigarette, is a striking example
of the originality of black and white photos as it does not limit
itself in simply showing a colorless image: it tells a breathtaking

The rebellious and
defiant nature of this image is seen through various paradoxes and
contrasts. The viewer’s eye is immediately caught by the candy
cigarette – which is a symbol of adulthood and addiction –
gracefully held by an innocent, young girl. Noticeable is her body
language: arms crossed and head confidently tilted towards the
camera. Along with her fancy clothing (as seen in the dress’
trimming, the wrist watch and the charm), she appears to be acting
out the role of a grown-up, even though she might still not be in her
adolescence. This differs from the other two children who are wearing
plain everyday clothing and are embracing their youthfulness. This
brings to light their carefree style in contrast with the
role-playing maturity of the still flourishing girl.

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Contrasts continue to
arise when closely looking at the same girl’s messy hair, compared to
the fairly neat and tied up pony tail of the girl to the right of the
picture. Interestingly, the contrast is even more striking when
comparing the ruffled hair to her intense, confident look, and to her
refined clothing. This, in addition to the cigarette, creates a
defiant atmosphere in the picture as the hair reminds the viewer of a
playful child whilst her clothing and pose try to go the opposite
way, that of maturity.

This photograph
arguably symbolizes the girl’s transition out of childhood and her
almost rebellious act that differentiates herself from the other two
children in the picture. It will undoubtedly be admired by viewers of
all ages. This photo is inspirational as it is iconic: it could lead
the viewer to identify themselves, or people they know, with the
girl, others will empathize and many will probably question the

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