Vivian Maier . . . by now I would hope most of the photographers out there know her name. Two years ago? I doubt it. That's what makes her story so unique. In an age where every budding photographer wants to have the next most viewed image of the week here stands Vivian Maier. Her photos didn't even see the light of day until recently when a young man bought all of her negatives at an auction. Now after a phenomenal amount of research and work her photos are exhibited internationally and currently there's an amazing documentary film in theaters.
Why Vivian Maier? Why is she so special to me? For several reasons.
First of all, she took photos for herself, purely. She wasn't being paid by a client, didn't have a photography business nor was she purposefully "building her portfolio". We know this because she rarely printed her photos and some of her film hadn't even been developed when it was discovered which means she barely shared them with herself. And that baffles me. Now that might partly be because she is remembered as a bit neurotic and acted a little strange from time to time . . . okay - A LOT strange. Based on the interviews in the documentary she was described as an OCD introvert with hoarding tendencies and worked as a nanny. But this strangeness makes her story all the more attractive to me. Maybe because I relate to her weird but the whole never showing her work with is hard for me to swallow. Granted I have thousands of photos that no one but me will ever see but still when I get an amazing shot I want to share it with EVERYONE. And sure maybe she was just realllllly shy about her work. We've all been there. But I wonder if it was more about the process of making the image for her where for many it's about the instant self gratification of a good shot. I think, during her process, she was able to hide her insecurities and weirdness behind her camera which allowed her to be someone else for a moment. I think her camera made her brave and to her that possibly meant more than the actual images.
Weird, humble and brave.
Secondly, she was a lover of selfies before the word selfie had ever been coined.
Thirdly, the work! Oh the photos are exquisite and I'm sure this should be no. 1 instead of 3 but it's obviously the most important part of her story. I would consider her a photo junkie. She shot everyone and everything. She captured the world as she knew it. Her images make you feel like you are right there. When you see her street photography it almost looks as if at any second the subjects will move.
Lastly, the mystery. I guess this goes back to the first reason a little. Once you watch the documentary you learn quite a bit more about her but still there is so much left unsaid - so much left unknown about her. And I guess we will never really know. We will just have her photos. Her legacy . . . thatshe didn't even know she was leaving us.
ALL PHOTOS FEATURED HERE by VIVIAN MAIER
- Lauren Athalia