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Wednesday
Jun092010

New Discovery: Vivian Maier

I recently stumbled upon the most interesting photography blog and I just had to share it.  The story is so inspiring for all photographers and photography enthusiasts.  The blog (here) is updated by John Maloof who randomly discovered the work of Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier.  Maier lived in Chicago for most of her life and in the 1950s through the 1990s she documented the city and the people in it.  But photography was her own personal hobby and no one would even see her images until after her death.  Maloof purchased her negatives at an auction by chance.  He bought 100,000 negatives and 20,000 - 30,000 of them were still undeveloped rolls from the 1960s and 1970s.  Slowly Maloof has developed the rolls and realized how special Maier's work is.  Maier used a couple of Rolleiflex and 35mm cameras to capture her images.  Since his discovery, Maloof has taken up street photography himself, using the same camera as Maier. 

 

The story of both Maier and Maloof is so fascinating.  Maier's images are powerful and beautiful and I really feel like I'm seeing into this different world, Chicago in the 1950s.  Her pictures of these people are so intimate, even though they were just strangers on the street to her.  I'm blown away.  I can't imagine going up to some random person and them allowing me to take such a personal photograph.  I also love her use of contrast, light and shadows.  It makes each picture so dramatic.  And Maloof...what a lucky guy!  As a lover of vintage finds, I'm jealous of his big discovery.  It makes me want to buy up old, undeveloped film.  Clearly, this experience has inspired him and his work and I think that is so great.  I'm sure he has learned a lot from looking at her photographs.  In some of his interviews, Maloof says that there is a book and a documentary in the works about Maier's life and photographs and I can't wait.  I would love to see and learn more. 

 

Here are a few of my favorites from Maloof's blog of Maier's work:

Photos: Vivian Maier

My Mom has been talking about converting 8mm film from her childhood and getting it put on DVD.  She has more than 10 rolls of film just sitting in her closet.  Although I do not expect the outcome of those videos to be anything like this (most of the film is of swim meets and family Christmases), it will be fascinating to see my Mom and my aunts as little girls, to see my Grandfather who passed away when I was still pretty young, and to see a completely different era.  I can't wait!

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