Vivian Maier comes to light

The Guardian published a wonderful article today about Vivian Maier. I don’t know which is more extraordinary—her story, or her images.

According to the man who accidentally bought her negatives, Vivian Maier was a French émigrée who worked as a nanny in New York and Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. In her spare time, she took photos … thousands upon thousands of glorious images.

But here’s the weird part: She never showed them to anyone. Only after her death in 2009 did her work begin to emerge. (Photos courtesy of the John Maloof Collection.)

I am puzzled by Maier’s story. Although she is said to have been a “keep to yourself” type, she obviously felt a connection to many of her subjects. So why wouldn’t she bother to develop or print most of her negatives?

Perhaps she didn’t have enough money. Or perhaps for her the process of taking photographs was more important than the result. Maybe it was the only way she felt comfortable in public, holding a camera between herself and everyone else.

We’ll never know.

And what a shame that she’ll also never know just how much her work has touched others.


  1. I’m with you: Her images are incredible. She had a way of getting to the heart of things (judging from the few images I’ve seen, at least). Kind of like your blog, actually. 🙂

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