Have you heard about Vivian Maier? I just recently read about this intriguing lady who worked as a nanny in Chicago in the 1950s until her retirement in the 1990s.
She loved taking pictures. And the art of photography. Yet she kept her passion hidden from the world.
A fellow named John Maloof, who worked in real estate, came across a large trunk of negatives at a furniture and antique auction. As he poured through the box, he knew there was something special about these negatives. Images such as these:
He started to show them to other people who recognized how special they were as well.
The photographer’s name was written on an envelope tucked away amidst the negatives— Vivian Maier.
Mr. Maloof did an online search only to find there was little-to-no information about her. Eventually he came across her obituary, which had run only a few days earlier.
Her short obituary that doesn’t sum up all of the 100,000 images this artistic nanny left behind.
Her photos were unique—sometimes quirky, sometimes artistic. She had an eye for light and for finding unique subjects. She was one of the original “Street Style” photographers (before the term was really coined), capturing candid images of many unsuspecting pedestrians. And then there were the children. Oh so many photos of children! Perhaps the children she took care of—which can’t help but make you smile.
Maloof talked to some of her former wards, who each described her as mysterious and utterly unique. The press began to describe her as the Mary Poppins of street photography.
John is helping bring Vivian’s world to others through a documentary he’s working on right now and a show at Chicago Cultural Center.
This is my favorite one (I photos of babies looking over the shoulder of their mama). It’s amazing that Vivian never showed her work to the public. And yet she lives on through these photos.
You never know where genius lies.
PS: Apologies for the smaller and inconsistent imagery size–but I didn’t want to distort the photography.