Finding Vivian Maier
06 . 23 . 14
I was aware of the photographer Vivian Maier because the publisher of my book Habitually Chic: Creativity at Work, powerHouse Books has published two books of her work, Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits and Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. I wasn’t aware that her recognition as a photographer only came posthumously after I saw the trailer for the documentary Finding Vivian Maier.
Vivian Maier is described as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” She was an American who lived in US and Europe before finally settling in New York in 1951, and later Chicago for work. She worked primarily as a nanny and would take photos around the world during her lifetime. She was worked for one family until the children went off to school which allowed her to turn her bathroom into a darkroom and print her photos. Later as she moved from job to job, the rolls of film and videos piled up and were stored in a warehouse. When the contents of her space were sold due to non payment, it was the buyer of the trunk that contained her work, John Maloof, who would bring this unknown photographer the recognition she so clearly deserves.
It’s amazing to me that she was able to capture such wonderful street images and intimate portraits in the time before digital cameras. These images here are just a small sampling of her work that often highlighted the downtrodden and poor in Chicago, New York, and Asia. The prints made of her work were carefully made using archive materials and instructions that she gave in her lifetime and her original process. The story is so fascinating that I can’t wait to see Finding Vivian Maier when it’s released in France on July 2nd.