Vivian Maier's Photography.
October 14, 2009 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Vivian Maier's Photography. "This [site] was created in dedication to the photographer Vivian Maier, a street photographer from the 1950s - 1970s. Vivian's work was discovered at an auction here in Chicago."

There is more information about this on the Hardcore Street Photography Flickr group, where I found this site. LPV discusses the find as well, with links to some more discussion about the find and the photographer.
posted by chunking express (35 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome photos. The still photos look like they are, or should be, moving.

I did this once when my mom was driving around a corner - and she almost lost me! All the more reason to tie kids down when you have them in your car!
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:03 AM on October 14, 2009


As a fan of the medium, I'm really enjoying some of her work.

As a guy who knows the labor involved, this shot of the undeveloped film really made my jaw drop. Kudos to Maloof for sharing this with the world.
posted by yiftach at 9:05 AM on October 14, 2009

these are awesome. thank you!
posted by RedEmma at 9:06 AM on October 14, 2009

These are awesome for the historical value at the very least. That's a weird tension in seeing how much America has changed in 50 years while at the same time seeing how little humanity has.
posted by DU at 9:11 AM on October 14, 2009

damn! 40,000 negatives. great stuff.
posted by mylaudanumhabit at 9:11 AM on October 14, 2009


Little girl: But I wanna ride!
Mother: Oh honey, I've already explained that hay is for the alien overlords. See, they are landing right back there now!
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on October 14, 2009

Oh wow. And there are some great slices of life on display, too. What a fantastic discovery!
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:26 AM on October 14, 2009

If you don't have descendants, or descendants that care, this is where your life's work ends up - sold off for a pittance at a house clearance. Seen this situation numerous times, thank god all those photos (plus 1000 rolls unprocessed) fell into the right hands.
posted by fire&wings at 9:27 AM on October 14, 2009

Where is this?!

I want to go there!
posted by Reverend John at 9:29 AM on October 14, 2009

A hell of a find. These are pretty impressive.
posted by echo target at 9:41 AM on October 14, 2009

Amazing photography! Thanks.

Reverand John, that's the lobby of the UN.

Still looks the same.
posted by JBennett at 10:03 AM on October 14, 2009

Love it.
posted by me3dia at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2009

Still looks the same.

Except for the metal detector and x-ray line.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2009

These are phenomenal, thanks so much for posting this.
posted by oulipian at 10:22 AM on October 14, 2009

Great stuff, thanks :)
posted by doctor_negative at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2009

From the thread on Flickr:

Here's a kicker. I had 1000 rolls of her 120 film that were never developed. I have been successfully developing this film which is from the 1960's! I have about 600 rolls left to go. This maybe a sign that she was obsessed with photography so much so that she just liked to take the picture and nothing more.

Pretty neat.
posted by pokermonk at 10:30 AM on October 14, 2009

Wow. Wow. Wow. I love her photographs, and how fortuitous that John Maloof found them and is determined that they don't end up hidden away and ignored in some historical archive. All-around wonderful; thanks so much.
posted by taz at 10:33 AM on October 14, 2009

Yeah, I think it's pretty lucky the person who ended up buying these photos is as interested in photography as he is. It's kind of a shame that her work wasn't appreciated at the time. This is pretty compelling stuff.
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on October 14, 2009

Thanks for this - two favorites:
Diary of a Housewife
Camera Obscura
posted by ryanshepard at 10:39 AM on October 14, 2009

Goodness. This is starting to feel a little bit like a photography version of Mingering Mike, or Henry Darger. That is a good thing.
posted by JBennett at 10:45 AM on October 14, 2009

really fabulous. for the next 30 years, i'm going to take tons of photos and upload them to flickr, but mark them private. then, after i'm dead, someone can go through my account and change the preferences on all of them.
posted by snofoam at 11:09 AM on October 14, 2009

Holy crap! It's an undiscovered Winogrand! Actually, they say Winogrand left 2500+ undeveloped rolls at his death but this girl was shooting 120 like Doisneau so I'd say it equals out. TLR street photos are the business if for no other reason than what waist-level shooting brings to the entire situation.
posted by well_balanced at 11:17 AM on October 14, 2009

What photos, and what a story. Thanks for posting this, chunking express.
posted by carter at 11:29 AM on October 14, 2009

The camera obscura is at Cliff House in San Franciso.
posted by carter at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2009

Wow, thanks for sharing; I'd never heard of her. Her work reminds me of other photographers -- Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, Elliot Erwitt -- whose work I love. (That's a good thing, not a bad thing.) Street photography, especially the b/w stuff, is my favorite, and the only kind I still indulge in.

I can't wait to see what Maloof posts next. I'm an instant fan.

I'd love to get my hands on all the rolls of film I've lost over the years and develop them. I lost them usually because shooting was something that could never wait til later, unlike the development; I just assumed I'd live in a darkroom for the rest of my life, I suppose. I'd estimate that I've lost probably a hundred rolls of film over the years! What can I say? They just roll around so easily, and you forget about them. They'd end up everywhere: in kitchen cupboards, in old bags I'd quit using, under the couch, on tables in coffee shops... A lot of the time it happened because fresh film was cheap (I always rolled my own), but developing and printing was more costly, and it took serious time to get it all just right. I wonder if people have found my old rolls that I'd just sort of left lying around because something else struck my eye. Yikes. Fun to think about.
posted by heyho at 11:43 AM on October 14, 2009

I have a back log of film I need to develop too. Thankfully it's currently sitting around 10 or so rolls of film, and not several hunder. (Or in this ladies case, thousands!) I try to keep it all in one place (my fridge) so I don't think i've lost a roll yet. Mind you, if I have, I've long since forgotten what i've lost.

Its surprising how well film holds up. I developed a roll from high school 9 years after I shot it, and except for the fact most of the photos sucked, it was pretty cool.
posted by chunking express at 12:04 PM on October 14, 2009

Here's the book cover.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 12:26 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

These are wonderful. What a find.

Did anyone else notice that this out-of-the-box Blogspot site kicks the web design ass of ninety-nine percent of all "professional" photo websites?
posted by gum at 1:13 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Too bad that in 50 years, if you find an old storage drive at a yard sale, all the digital images will have long since been corrupted.

Ah film.

posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 1:26 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

Basically just stunning. Reminds me slightly of Arbus. She had a very developed eye and it's a shame she never got the recognition she deserved for her work. Perhaps she never even sought attention for it.

She managed to catch moments in situations that are very difficult to get close to without losing the authenticity.
posted by gallois at 1:36 PM on October 14, 2009

Astonishing. Thanks for posting. This, for example, is beautiful.
posted by Magnakai at 3:29 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can anybody identify the location of this photograph?
posted by spasm at 5:38 PM on October 14, 2009

Wow! Thankyou!
posted by smartypantz at 5:54 PM on October 14, 2009

Count me in for another "Wow."

taz: how fortuitous that John Maloof found them
chunking express: it's pretty lucky the person who ended up buying these photos is as interested in photography as he is.

Totally agree. In a similar vein, these notes from John Maloof's Blogspot site really resonated:
I didn't know what 'street photography' was then. ... It inspired me to pick up photography myself. Little by little, as I progressed as a photographer, I would revisit Vivian's negatives and I would "see" more in her work. I bought her same camera and took to the same streets soon to realize how difficult it was to make images of her caliber. I discovered the eye she had for photography through my own practice. I am so attached to her work.
I decided to 'Google' her about a year after I purchased these only to find her obituary placed the day before my search. She passed only a couple of days before my inquiry on her.

Those points were very poignant for me. The fact that he wasn't a photographer prior to finding her photos, and that her work inspired him to want to take pictures and learn about photography (he shoots in B&W and has some nice pictures himself), and then, to make sure that her work wasn't forgotten -- it's a great story about Maier, Maloof, and the unexpected power of art that could have been lost. Thanks for this post.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:36 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

Great work. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2009

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