Finding Vivian Maier in me
When it comes to street and documentary photography, I am a huge fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry, and the enigmatic Vivian Maier. Watching her documentary Finding Vivian Maier was overwhelming for artists like me, inspiring yet saddening to be discovered posthumously. We are so moved by the stunning photography that this quiet, reclusive nanny has sprung upon us unsuspectingly. And yet, where now is the privacy she so wished until her end?
Vivian Maier’s works are gaining recognition worldwide, yet the artist isn’t there anymore to accept or decline her fame. This very private person who grew old alone and died alone suddenly has her life exposed to the world, a past she so mysteriously guarded when she was still alive.
I have curiously followed her intriguing life and works after I read John Maloof on Flickr years ago, asking for help on what to do with the box of negatives he bought and discovered from an auction. Unknowingly at that time, he has hit the jackpot. It was such a relief to know he was the one who retrieved her mementos and precious rolls of undeveloped films for he has become a protective fan as well, continuously scanning and printing her best unseen images for exhibits worldwide.
Exposing her wonderful works of photography to the world was like opening a box of Pandora, and yet…strangely, we embraced them with care and are moved by her images of life, both comic and tragic (oh, her perfect timing and keen sense of humor and anticipation!)
I found slices of her quirks in me, except for her method of madness and eccenticity. Her painful childhood was a far cry from my happy one. I am half of what she was — a recluse, hoarder, and a free spirit. An uncompromising artist who wished to remain an enigma, she was lost in her world, sometimes pretending to be a super spy who needed to document everything around her. I love her photos.
The nanny probably never expected for this to happen but she was bold to go after her passion. She believed in herself, and her confidence showed in the way she was determined to shoot portraits up close in unsafe streets…an in-your-face stance. She knew how good she was at her craft (…she is the Mother of Creative Selfies!)
John Maloof says his only goal is to place Vivian deservingly in history. Thank God he did.
My only wish is that when I am gone, I shall not be forgotten soon enough.
Read critic Roger Ebert’s review of her documentary here.
Watch the fascinating documentary trailer below. When you have time, grab the full length one and enjoy this portrait of a genius photographer.
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