A Driven Photographer – Discovered

I was completely taken up by this story. And even more taken up by the documentary photographs Vivian Maier took on the streets of Chicago using black and white film. The format is two and a quarter inches square using a twin-lens reflex camera.

The story of Vivian Maier is so incredible that the man who discovered her says: “If you made this up for Hollywood it would be like, ‘Oh, come on, that’s too hard to believe.’ She is,” he adds, “the most riveting person I have ever encountered.

Following links on this story I see that there is a documentary film being made about Ms. Maier as well as a book of her photographs. But what really interested me was a comment made about her in an interview. Along with all the great qualities about her photographs she was complemented on being a really driven photographer. And she certainly was. Her days off were spent taking photographs. There are years worth of images which nobody saw, except her. There were boxes of undeveloped films. Images even she hadn’t seen.

Driven? It wasn’t fame or fortune that had her taking pictures. It wasn’t necessarily that she was interested in the photographs as photographs to display – the undeveloped rolls speaks of that. (Well maybe she ran out of money, who knows.) Putting myself in her position, and in fact I was in a similar position in my teens as a nanny taking pictures on my days off, I think she just delighted in seeing. Of catch that moment. That seems to be IT. She was taken up with the act of picture taking.

What I know of documentary photography I see a cracking good collection. Almost every image matches or surpasses those of the great documentary photographers. Feast your eyes.

Excitement over. Back to my little point and shoot digital wonder.

Hat tip to Iain from Little House in The Paddy for putting me onto this story. He talks about Square Images in his post on this collection of photographs. I notice the angle of view the pictures are taken from. With a twin lens reflex the camera is held around waist height and one composes the picture looking down on a ground glass screen. I feel there is more of an intimate connection between camera and subject as a result.

(Note: the twin-lens can be used at eye level but I rarely used it that way.)

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