Jan 11, 2011

Undiscovered Street Photographer Vivian Maier

This is simply one the most incredible things to me.

A feature-length documentary is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

-- UPDATE 1/18/11--

For some reason, leaving this entry so plain has been bothering me since it was posted, and considering that I'm procrastinating from work I should be doing tonight, I feel like I should at least write out a few thoughts.

I've never considered myself a professional photographer. Ever. Although I have been hired to do so, and though my work has appeared in some galleries, and though I am proud of the pictures I take, I've never labeled myself pro. I've never wanted to. I've always loved to take photographs, but it's always been an ever-learning process. My compositions could be better. My sense of color is pretty bad. I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to lighting. But never classifying myself as 'professional' excused me from not knowing these things- it has and always will be something I do for my own pleasure.

To me, Vivian Maier represents everything about having a passion. No one saw any of these pictures. Hell, hundreds of negatives were never even developed. I won't wax over the philosophy of the camera being an extension of the soul or whatever, because I don't imagine that's what Vivian felt. Vivian would just have one day off per week, and she would spend it walking around in a city she loved, taking pictures of people that looked interesting. You can just imagine her approaching an old man on the stoop of a building, asking his permission to shoot. You can picture her stopping at her tracks, asking the girl to lean against the car door as she was just a moment ago. Why? Because Vivian, and only Vivian, thought that that one moment was beautiful.

For the last few years, the health of a few of my grandparents have been deteriorating, and so we've had to help clear out their houses. With that comes boxes upon boxes of old photographs that I want to spend the time to scan and organize. In fact I've always thought my hobby for when I retire would be to collect old photos and negatives from garage sales and antique stores and put the pictures online under Public Domain- why keep them to myself? I want to see the growth of the town I grew up in. I want to post a photo that has someone's great-grandmother dancing in the background. Imagine opening a published book of Vivian's photographs and seeing your grandfather having a beer with friends.

To Vivian, it was completely selfless. It was never about getting published or getting discovered. Just taking the photographs themselves were enough. Just loving her city and celebrating loving her city was enough. And she was extraordinary at it. And though she was loved by many, she had this one thing that was hers and only hers. And to her, that was enough.