The Mystique And Talent Of Photographer, Vivian Maier


Last week, my longtime blogging buddy, Katherine at Shoot Me Now, mentioned something in her comment response to me about a documentary that featured the mysterious life and remarkable talent of photographer, Vivian Maier. And ironically enough, I had read about this documentary several years ago but never saw it. In fact, I still haven't see it but plan to. Yet at that time, I did do some investigation of Vivian's work and was immediately in awe of her photographs. Vivian had an amazing gift for knowing exactly when to snap the camera and capture the perfect moment. She also had an uncanny ability to get close to people from all walks of life. And what really blows me away was that she had no formal training as a photographer. She was self-taught.

Vivian Dorothy Maier was an American street photographer. Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago's North Shore, pursuing photography during her spare time. She took more than 150,000 photographs during her lifetime, primarily of the people and architecture of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, although she also traveled and photographed worldwide. During her lifetime, Maier's photographs were unknown and unpublished, and she never printed many of her negatives. At the age of 83, Vivian died in April of 2009 and was forgotten, that is, until Chicago collector, John Maloof, acquired a box of her pictures at an auction and set out to take her work to the world.

John, along with Charlie Siskel, a television and film producer, put forth an impressive amount of time and energy investigating the life of Vivian Maier, producing the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, which wasn't easy because she was extremely private. Many of her friends admitted to knowing hardly anything about Vivian because she was very closed-off and secretive. In fact, her friends never saw any of her photographs or knew of Vivian's phenomenal talent.

Please take a moment to watch this video clip about Vivian Maier, which will give you a brief overview of why she remains an intriguing mystery...



Vivian Maier's cameras... 


I would like to share with you some of Vivian Maier's work.
Personally, her photographs invoke so many different feelings and emotions within me. Vivian's photographs go right to my heart and solar plexus. There was something so nakedly uncensored about the images she captured. I find them humorous, touching, raw, and beautifully haunting...


















Have a beautiful week everyone!
X

*If you would like to watch the trailer of Finding Vivian Maier and discover more information about this mysterious lady, please go here.

38 comments

  1. Ron, what a fascinating post! I knew nothing of Vivian Maier so I found this very interesting. Her photographs are incredible and like you said, nakedly uncensored and hauntingly beautiful. I love the one of the little girl with tears in her eyes and the little boy petting the cat. I watched the video clip and can understand why she's such mystery. Why would anyone take pictures and not want to see them or share them with others? She sounded very eccentric. But wow, was she ever talented.

    I'm going to see if I can find the documentary on Netflix because I'm curious to know more about her. I think my husband would also be interested in it as well, he likes documentaries.

    Thank you for sharing, Ron. You always come up with such interesting topics.

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  2. Ron, I saw the documentary about two years ago, right around the time it was released. I went with a friend of mine who is also interested in photography. We both enjoyed it very much. Vivian Maier's photography was/is amazing! There is nothing quite like pictures taken with film, especially black and white. They also found several films she made with an 8mm camera.

    You selected great photographs for this post. I can't wait until you see the documentary because I know you will love it.

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  3. Hey there Candice!

    You've seen the documentary? That's awesome! I am so looking forward to seeing it myself. I may be ordering it through F.Y.E. because I'm sure it's going to be a film I'll want to watch over and over again.

    " There is nothing quite like pictures taken with film, especially black and white. They also found several films she made with an 8mm camera."

    I agree. I think part of the reason her photographs are so powerful is because of the black and white film. And yes, I saw in one of the videos I watched on her life that she also shot with an 8mm camera. I saw them partially in one of the videos I watch on her life.

    There were so many pictures online to chose from, I had a hard time selecting these 17.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaabulous week!
    X

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  4. Helloooooooo Elaine!

    Ever since my friend Katherine mentioned the documentary on Vivian Maier, I've been obsessed with sharing a post about her life. I spent all of last week putting this post together and had so much fun investigating about Vivian's life and selecting photographs.

    Isn't the picture of the little girl crying precious? Vivian had such a knack for snapping her camera at the exact moment and capturing such candid and natural images.

    "Why would anyone take pictures and not want to see them or share them with others? "

    Well, I think it was partially because she didn't have the funds to have her pictures printed and partially (from what I gathered from video clips I watched) I think she was insecure about her photography.

    I may be ordering/purchasing the documentary from F.Y.E. this week because it's a film I'm sure I would watch several times over the years. I love documentaries!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, neighbor. Have a grrreat week!
    X

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  5. Some people have such an amazing gift when it comes to capturing moments in the lives of ordinary people.

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  6. Ron, I've never heard of Vivian Maier, but her photographs are freaking brilliant! I shared this post with my girlfriend who is a graphic artist and also has an appreciation for photography and she loved it. The two of us sat here and studied each photograph because there is so much to look at in ever image.

    Thanks a lot for sharing her talent, Ron. What an interesting and fascinating woman!

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  7. Mitch, you said it perfectly....Vivian had such an amazing gift when it came to capturing moments in the lives of ordinary people.

    You are sooooooooo right!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week!
    X

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  8. Hiya Matt!

    Aren't they BRILLIANT?!? I spent the greater part of last week looking at photographs of Vivian's and it took me FOREVER to decide on which photographs to use because they are ALL brilliant! It was hard for me to narrow them down to just these 17 photographs.

    "The two of us sat here and studied each photograph because there is so much to take in within every image.:

    Yes, I did the same thing! In many of her photographs she captured not only a single image, but MANY images, like picture #7. I love that photograph!!!!

    I am so looking forward to watching the documentary!!!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a most excellent week!
    X

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  9. " Vivian's photographs go right to my heart and solar plexus. There was something so nakedly uncensored about the images she captured. I find them humorous, touching, raw, and beautifully haunting..."

    Ron, I love the way you write! After reading this post and looking at Vivian's photographs, I couldn't have expressed my own feelings any better. I love the photograph of the two women (#6) and the one of the policeman and lady (#14). I also love the pic of the little boy pressing his nose on the window.

    This post makes me want to see the documentary. I'm going to see if I can find it on Netflix. Thanks, Ron!

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  10. Hey ho Robert!

    Thank you :)

    Even since my friend Katherine mentioned the documentary last week, I knew that I wanted to share the story and of Vivian Maier because I remembered several years ago how her photographs touched me.

    I love the one of the little boy pressing his nose on the window too. Isn't that an adorable photograph? See, that's what I mean about Vivian snapping her camera at the perfect moment, capturing a fabulous image!

    I can't wait to see the documentary. I may just purchase it because it's a film I know I'll want to go back and watch over and over.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a fabuloso week!
    X

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  11. Her photographs are fantastic and all so natural. Vivian Maier obviously had a knack of catching moments that other people might miss. I often think that someone with no training has a better chance of success... simply because there are no rules to follow, just a love of what they do. Thank you so much for sharing, Ron. I'm going back to view the pictures again.

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  12. Rob LenihanMarch 16, 2016

    My goodness, Ron, what incredible work. I remember hearing that story about Vivian's photographs being discovered in a shoebox, but I had forgotten the name, so thanks so much for posting this.

    Her photos have such depth and power to them. It's like you're peering into somebody's life from across time. What an amazing artist and it seems such a shame that she did not receive this recognition in her lifetime.

    Excellent post, buddy! Have a great week!

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  13. Good morning Valerie!

    Aren't they so beautifully natural? And yes, she had a knack of catching moments that other people might miss, or even never notice.

    " I often think that someone with no training has a better chance of success... simply because there are no rules to follow, just a love of what they do."

    I couldn't agree with you more! I think some people are born with a natural gift and need no training. Their gift comes from intuition.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have great Wednesday and week!

    X

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  14. hey ron. i'm no stranger to vivian. i heard about her a while ago when her photos were found. i looked at some of them and though meh, but it was such a different time back then and doing street photography, i respect her work. you picked some good ones, several of them making me smile. it a shame she could not enjoy the fame she is having now back then.

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  15. Hey there Val! I was wondering if you had heard of Vivian or had seen her photographs. Glad to hear that you did :)

    And you're right, street photography was much different back then than it is now. Back then there seemed to be more freedom in taking people's pictures out on the street and not even asking if it was okay, so it was like capturing a perfectly natural and spontaneous moment.

    Thank you, I had such a hard time selecting photos for this post because there were so many to choose from.

    " it a shame she could not enjoy the fame she is having now back then."

    Yes, it is, isn't it?

    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have a fantastic week!
    X

    P.S. Lets make plans to go into NYC together this Spring. I miss going there with you!

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  16. Hey there Rob!

    "I remember hearing that story about Vivian's photographs being discovered in a shoebox, but I had forgotten the name..."

    Yes, me as well. And then when Katherine mentioned Vivian to me, I suddenly remembered seeing her photographs years ago and LOVING them.

    "Her photos have such depth and power to them. It's like you're peering into somebody's life from across time."

    LOVE how you said that!!!! And you're absolutely right!

    Yes, it is a shame she did not receive recognition in her lifetime, but from what I've seen in videos of people who were interviewed and knew her was that she was insecure in her ability and didn't want people to see her photographs. Even she didn't see much of her developed photographs.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week!
    X

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  17. Excellent post, Ron. I have to admit that I've never heard of Maier, but her work is amazing.

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  18. I agree...this is a very interesting post Ron!! LOVE the photos...isn't it amazing how much things have changed! Stopping by to wish you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! Hope you have something green today!! I think I will have a green Donut! :) xo Jeanne and the girls

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  19. Thanks, Dale :) Aren't Vivian's images amazing? I love her work and just had to share it.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a fantastic week!
    X

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  20. Hello there Jeanne!

    " LOVE the photos...isn't it amazing how much things have changed! "

    Yes it is. Back then things seemed simpler, basic and more gritty, but at the same time more glamorous.

    HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY to you too!

    " I think I will have a green Donut!"

    Ha! Green is my FAVORITE color!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a grrreat rest of your week!
    X to you and the girlz

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  21. What strikes me as particularly fascinating, Ron, is that Vivian did such an outstanding job with what we'd consider primitive equipment! Just think what she could accomplish today, with our digital cameras and color!!

    Thank you for introducing us to her. I'd never heard of her before -- doesn't surprise me, I haven't heard of a LOT!! -- and now, I'll be on the lookout for her work. I'd love to see some of her Chicago photos, you know.

    Happy rest-of-the-week to you (Happy St. Pat's today!!) xo

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  22. Mark PetruskaMarch 17, 2016

    Wow! Great photos. I'd never heard of Vivian Maier before, but the stark beauty she captured in these images is stunning. Thank you for sharing. Photos like these inspire me to become a better photographer myself!

    Happy St. Patty's Day!

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  23. Hey there Mark!

    Aren't Vivian's photos faaaaaaaabulous?

    "I'd never heard of Vivian Maier before, but the stark beauty she captured in these images is stunning."

    And I couldn't agree with your more!

    "Photos like these inspire me to become a better photographer myself!"

    Yes, me as well. I need to work more on my black and white photography skills.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a terrific weekend!

    X to you and Tara

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  24. Helloooooo there Debbie!

    " Vivian did such an outstanding job with what we'd consider primitive equipment! Just think what she could accomplish today, with our digital cameras and color!!"

    I amazes me that she took these photographs using film because it's much more challenging than using a digital camera where it's a easier to control the outcome of an image by the use of editing, both before and after. And what's especially inspiring is that many photographs today are trying to get the same results that Vivian achieved.

    There is something very raw about her photography, which gives her photographs their beauty.

    I can't be exactly sure which of these photographs were shot in Chicago, but I know some of them must have been because she lived much of her life Chicago.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a wonderful weekend and HAPPY St. PATRICK'S DAY to you!

    Cheers!
    X

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  25. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comMarch 18, 2016

    What talent! Such great street photography. Have a lovely weekend.

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  26. Hey there Fiona!

    I agree! Vivian had such special gift for street photography. She had the ability to know when to snap the camera.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a glorious weekend!
    X

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  27. Well, that is an interesting story! I think capturing people is the hardest subject in photography, so it's amazing that she did such an incredible job with no formal training. Fascinating! The policeman one is funny, but my fave is the three females.

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  28. Hey there Bijoux!

    " I think capturing people is the hardest subject in photography, so it's amazing that she did such an incredible job with no formal training."

    Yes, I agree! They said that Vivian had a special knack for putting people at easy when she took their photograph. And she took their photographs openly, she didn't try to hide the fact that she was taking their picture.

    "The policeman one is funny, but my fave is the three females."

    Meeee too! I love the looks on their faces.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super weekend and welcome back!

    X

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  29. Ron, these photographs are amazing! I scrolled through them once, then twice, then three times. And each time, I saw something new and different. What a talented photographer she was! Don't you love old photographs and the way they stir such feelings and emotions? Every one of these photographs makes me feel something different.

    What an interesting and fascinating post, Ron. Have a wonderful weekend x

    I may see if I can find the documentary online this weekend.

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  30. Hola Denise!

    "I scrolled through them once, then twice, then three times. And each time, I saw something new and different."

    It's so ironic you said that because I did the same thing. And not only in selecting the photographs for this post, but for all of Vivian's photographs I found online. I also discovered a book on Vivian's street photography in Barnes and Noble last week and I just sat there in the cafe and studied all the picture featured in the book.

    "Don't you love old photographs and the way they stir such feelings and emotions?"

    Yes I do. And they also make me wonder who the people are in the photographs and what kind of lives they had. Fascinating!

    Hope you enjoy the documentary!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Have a wonderful weekend!
    X

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  31. These are beyond fantastic! I've not heard of her, so thank you for bringing her to my attention. I agree the photos are hauntingly beautiful. I love street photography and think it captures life in a microcosm for that period in history. I have a lot of favorites...the crying girl, the boy with his face pressed against the window and the police officer with the woman. And I'd love to know the story behind the stroller shot. She was truly talented and would have been interesting to talk with about her experiences. Funny tidbit of info; my very first camera was one of those Kodak "Brownie" cameras!

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  32. Hey there Lisa!

    Wasn't her work FANTASTIC? And these are only a few, she took 150,000 picture during her life.

    " I love street photography and think it captures life in a microcosm for that period in history."

    Yes, I totally agree with you, it does!

    "And I'd love to know the story behind the stroller shot."

    OMG...me too! And that's what I love about her photographs, they make wonder who, what, and when about each image. They make you want to know the 'story.'

    "Funny tidbit of info; my very first camera was one of those Kodak "Brownie" cameras!"

    That is sooooooooooo cool! My first camera was a Kodak Polaroid camera.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great rest of your week!
    X

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  33. Hiya Ron...

    Wow! What amazing talent and wonderful photographs... I love black and white photography, it captures a lot more sometimes than colour photography!!! Thanks for this very informative post and I will go check her out now: Have a great week... Leesa

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  34. Hiya Leesa! OMG....it's soooooooooo great too see you!!!

    Weren't Vivian's photographs AMAZING? She had a special talent for capturing the most interesting moments in street photography.

    "I love black and white photography, it captures a lot more sometimes than colour photography!!! "

    I agree....there is something so captivating and raw about black and white photography.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope all is well with you and that you're enjoying Spring!

    Have a super week!
    X

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  35. Your post was a great tribute to this amazing lady.
    Black and white street photography is my favorite. The more candid it appears to be, the better I like it. I used to do a lot of it and know that the subjects of the photos aren't always happy about it.

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  36. "Black and white street photography is my favorite. The more candid it appears to be, the better I like it."

    I am so in agreement with you, Pat! There is nothing quite like black and white street photography. And the more candid, the better I life it!

    "I used to do a lot of it and know that the subjects of the photos aren't always happy about it."

    Yes, you're so right about that. And that's one of the many reasons why I love taking photographs in a place like New York City - no one cares if you take their picture. It's a city in which you feel totally free to take pictures of whatever (or whoever) you wish.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy!

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  37. benzekneesApril 28, 2016

    I love those pics Ron!

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  38. Wasn't she an AMAZING photographer? She had such a gift for noticing people and knowing exactly when to snap the camera!

    X

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