Vivian Maier

Right now…her street photography is also inspiring me.

And her story too.  It’s unbelievable.

She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn’t show anyone.  These photos came to light, after her death.  The negatives, and undeveloped rolls discovered at a thrift auction.  She was a master at composition, a skilled storyteller, and I can’t wait to get a copy of her book.

“Vivian bounced between Europe and the United States before coming back to New York City in 1951. Having picked up photography just two years earlier, she would comb the streets of the Big Apple refining her artistic craft. By 1956 Vivian left the East Coast for Chicago, where she’d spend most of the rest of her life working as a caregiver. In her leisure Vivian would shoot photos that she zealously hid from the eyes of others. Taking snapshots into the late 1990′s, Maier would leave behind a body of work comprising over 100,000 negatives. Additionally Vivian’s passion for documenting extended to a series of homemade documentary films and audio recordings. Interesting bits of Americana, the demolition of historic landmarks for new development, the unseen lives of ethnics and the destitute, as well as some of Chicago’s most cherished sites were all meticulously catalogued by Vivian Maier.

A free spirit but also a proud soul, Vivian became poor and was ultimately saved by three of the children she had nannied earlier in her life. Fondly remembering Maier as a second mother, they pooled together to pay for an apartment and took the best of care for her. Unbeknownst to them, one of Vivian’s storage lockers was auctioned off due to delinquent payments. In those storage lockers lay the massive hoard of negatives Maier secretly stashed throughout her lifetime.

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.”

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Here are some of my favorites so far…

I love the composition of this one,  foreground vs. background objects and how the vanishing point is right in the middle.  Your eye seems to travel in a spiral.

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1953, New York, NY
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Her composition abilities are brilliant.  I find myself focusing on the woman in the foreground, and noticing how she is framed by the women walking behind her, complimented by the lines of the stairs, paralleling her gaze.  Brilliant.
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The range in values are gorgeous in this one.  I immediately love how the woman is the darkest part of the photo. My eye keeps jumping back to the coat, just like a boomerang.  And the background has such creamy grays, giving the mood of a cemetery.
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Notice how this one is divided into thirds, and has three main tones.  Brilliant.
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This one too, like a jigsaw puzzle.
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And I just absolutely love this one.
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