Thursday, January 06, 2011

Vivian Maier: Extraordinary street photographer

Isn't it funny where life leads you? When I first graduated from college, I moved to New York and worked for the Aperture Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to promoting photography. I was primarily interested in its role as a publisher, but quickly found myself fascinated by photography, wanting to learn more. I enrolled in a documentary photography class at Cooper Union focusing on New York at night — it was such fun. I continued to take classes at night and absorb as much info as I could from my talented coworkers. This experience eventually led me back to school (though I eventually changed my focus to illustration). I was reminded of all this last night by a post on Twitter by Nan Lawson. She linked to a video about street photographer Vivian Maier
Have you read about — or seen the work of —Vivian Maier yet? She was an extraordinarily talented street photographer working in Chicago from the 1950s to the 1990s whose work was virtually unknown until recently. A box of her photo negatives was purchased at an auction by a young man in Chicago, John Maloof, in 2007. Over time he realized what a skilled eye the photographer had and sought out — and purchased — as much of her work as he could find: more than 100,000 negatives. He began to research her life and piece together her story — and it is fascinating. Below is a piece that aired on Chicago Tonight that shares more of that story and images:

 The Chicago Cultural Center is hosting an exhibition of her work through April 3. You can help support the making of a documentary about this remarkable photographer — and see more stunning examples of her street photography — over at Kickstarter.
It makes me want to dig out some of those photos I took so long ago. Maybe I'll share a few here next week. It also makes me want to break out the film camera and hit the streets!  I hope you enjoy reading Vivian's story and looking at her photography as much as I do.

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