The Secret Life of Vivian Maier

I’ve been a fan of Vivian Maier since her photos were first published…. which isn’t actually all that long ago, despite the photos themselves dating from the late 40’s to the late 90’s…. and having passed away before any of her photos were ever shown.

Her photography is remarkable on a number of levels:

  1. She was a secretive, mysterious, impassioned artist, who was also a career nanny, and never shared her work with anyone in her whole long life.
  2. As a discovery story it’s irresistible… her (unrecognized) body of work eventually came to light only when her bins of unprocessed film sold at auction for a pittance when her storage unit bills went unpaid.
  3. The photography is so prolific and captures such a range of ordinary people over many decades - from the very rich to the marginalized, children to the aged, and all ethnicities - unposed and often oblivious to the moment of capture, simply living their lives in NY and Chicago: it’s a treasure trove simply for its historical value.
  4. The images are brilliantly and artistically composed with all the humour and pathos and beauty of everyday life in a big city, technically worthy of hanging next to any of the most accomplished professional photographers ever displayed in international galleries

And most importantly:

What an inspiration. We all make excuses "I would be a writer but I don’t have the time", "I would be an artist, but I don’t have a studio", "I would…"  Well, she did. As a full time nanny. With a darkroom in her tiny bathroom, no models, no fancy lighting gear, no studio, no pay. Just passion. How about that?

Find out about Vivian Maier on her website.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to see the film about her, as I did a while back, it is well worth the price of admission.

- ld

Finding Vivian Maier - Official Movie Trailer