Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Lost and found, the work of Vivian Maier

I discovered the work of a new photographer this week, nothing odd in that I hear you say, except that the photographer in question was taking pictures from the 1940's. A collection of thousands of negatives were discovered recently by an estate agent who is now bringing to light the breathtaking work of Vivian Maier.

Maier was born in New York to a French mother and an Austrian father in 1926. What is know about her is patchy at best, her name appears on the 1930 census living with Jeanne Bertrand in the 1930's who obviously was crucial influence in her up bringing as she was a well know French portrait photographer. Other than tickets showing her returning to France with her mother and then traveling alone by ship from Le Harve to New York and stints in Chicago as a nanny and a trip around the world in 1960 her past remains pretty elusive, even those that knew her said that she was "a private person", thank goodness that she left an amazing archive of work behind for us to discover her world and how she viewed it.

When looking through the wealth of images that have surfaced, you would be mistaken for thinking that you are looking at the work of Robert Frank, Saul Leiter or Dianne Arbus, or even the French greats like Bresson or Doisneau but there is a difference, Maier has a softer, more human touch, especially in her portraits of children. Each frame tells a story, you get a real sense of place, of the noise in the street and the heat in the air, the images do what all good photography does, it transports you.

I could wax lyrical about her framing, composition, technique and the quality of the tone in her images but the thing that hits me most is her natural eye for a picture and the ability to relay a narrative and even more than that the fact that she got out there and constantly took photos, 100,000 of them just for the love of it!

To see more of her work and to discover more about what is happening with her work click here , in the meantime here are some more of her remarkable images.

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