The last few years have seen the rise of one name from unknown amateur to photography legend — Vivian Maier. Over the course of a lifetime that saw her documenting the world around her, at one point taking photos daily with a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera, she amassed a staggering 150,000 negatives. Most of these have neither been printed nor seen by any other person before their unlikely discovery at a storage location in 2007:
We’ve written about her before, but many of the details of Maier’s life are still being uncovered. The upcoming BBC One documentary, Vivian Maier: Who Took Nanny’s Pictures, is another attempt to understand the gifted enigma.
She was a poet of suburbia, a secret street photographer before the term was really invented.
Today, her photos, mostly depicting the streets of Chicago and New York in the 50s and 60s, are celebrated for their simple and honest compositions. Though posthumously, she has taken her place as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, if not, certainly the most intriguing.
The story of Vivian Maier is an inspiring confirmation that, in photography, one does not need expensive education or fancy equipment. One only has to see.
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