Finding Vivian Maier

This full-time nanny turned viral a few years back when a young man bought a box containing personal items and undeveloped films without knowing what he would discover. At the time, Vivian Maier was nonexistent to the public world. The young man started developing the films and found an incredible body of work. He started researching about the life of this mysterious woman to understand the context in which the photos were taken and who was the person behind the camera that unveiled the multiple self-portraits glass reflections scattering her films. 

Last night, I watch her documentary on Netflix called "Finding Vivian Maier" and it is really good...

Vivian was an interesting being, and her work was unquestionably brilliant. In her photos, she shows the world how she perceives it - full of contradictions and emotions. She mixes humour, drama, fashion, street actions, children, old people, poor, rich.

She had an attraction for the bizarre, for the mystery of the human hood. She was collecting stories in the newspapers, and doing pretty much the same thing with her photos: gathering together all types of human beings in all sorts of situations. She had a talent for seeing emotions, capturing the "in between" moments in someone's expression. She was not frightened or shy by drama. Her photos show that she did not care about bothering people while photographing them.

 

“WE HAVE TO MAKE ROOM FOR OTHER PEOPLE. IT’S A WHEEL – YOU GET ON, YOU GO TO THE END, AND SOMEONE ELSE HAS THE SAME OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO THE END, AND SO ON, AND SOMEBODY ELSE TAKES THEIR PLACE. THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.”

VIVIAN MAIER

 

One can feel through her work that, in a way, all emotions and scenes are equally observed. When the boy she was nannying got hit by a car in the street, instead of helping him she started taking photos. When another was crying, instead of cuddling she would take her camera. In her photographs she appears like an observer, not concerned by this life but totally fascinated by how things develop, are felt and displayed in the moment. She is an active witness of how life is lived. 

Vivian knew her work was good but hated to develop her photos. Being a good photographer doesn't mean being good at post production and developing images. She did not like developing her own work, it is why she kept so many roles undeveloped.

I am specially sensitive to her self-portrait work. She was not beautiful in the common sense of beauty standards, but she certainly had a personality that is intriguing, scary sometimes and funny at the same time. She has a sense of beauty that shows the world how it is - nude in its diversity, the real beauty hidden in detail light and situations. I am convinced she was full of tenderness even thought she was obviously fighting her own demons.

Today, she has entered the community of great photographers who have made the history of this art. She is recognized and acclaimed by masters by especially by common people, because her work touches the simplicity of life in such an honest way that it is hard not to find each of us through her clichés.