Who Was Vivian Maier?

9:23 AM

I have always loved black and white photography. It was actually the motivation behind giving up my point-and-shoot and buying a good camera. You can see details in a black and white photograph that would be lost if they were in color. Imagine Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, or Irvin Penn's works in color and you will understand my point. (If you aren't familiar with them, you can view a sample of their work here.)

Because we see things in vivid color, black and white images tend to distance the subject matter from reality. We imagine there is a story to be told. It slows down our eye and forces us to pause on small details that would otherwise go unnoticed in a color photograph. When done well, it is genius.
My renewed interest in monochrome photography started when Moonpie showed me a story about Vivian Maier. She was a street photographer who hid her work from everyone. She went into dangerous parts of Chicago and New York City snapping photographs of random people. No one knew about her work until it was accidentally discovered by a man who bought a box of her negatives at an auction. She was a nanny and a little bit wackadoodle. Even the children she cared for didn't know about her street photography. (If I spent all day taking care of other people's children, I would probably think roaming streets in dangerous parts of town after work was fun, too.)
Her story fascinated me so much that I watched the BBC documentary online and also purchased the documentary Finding Vivian Maier from Amazon. (It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.) I've learned that there is now a legal dispute as to who has rights to her photography and that Finding Vivian Maier may soon be pulled until the court case is settled. If you're interested in owning a copy, you may not want to wait.
I've included the following links if you would like to learn more about Vivian Maier's life:
BBC documentary Imagine (I watched this online.)
Note: The photo above was taken using my Bible and a cross necklace. It has absolutely nothing to do with Vivian Maier. I'm random like that. 

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  1. Oh my gosh her story sounds so interesting. I am always looking for shows to watch on the treadmill. This is right up my alley. Sounds like her story would make a great book. Thanks for the tip!! Enjoy your week!

  2. I would love to see her story as a book, too. I loved the book "Mrs. Poe" by Lynn Cullen. There was enough fact to give insight into who Edgar Allen Poe really was, but enough artistic license to make it a good read. If I could write well, I would take this project on myself!


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