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Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was a nanny by trade, but a documentarian by heart.  On her downtime she’d roam the streets photographing a myriad of people and things.  Children, elderly, the discarded whether it be objects or people.

You notice her winking wit, sly humor, graphic sensibilities right away.  This was the 50’s and 60’s, the great boom time in post-war America, but she seems more interested in the ones that were being ignored by the wave of optimism and upward mobility.

Her story is sad, but compelling.  She never married, didn’t have many close friends, but loved the children she cared for as if they were her own.  Three of the children ended up helping her out financially when she became destitute and alone in her old age.  She hoarded rolls and rolls of undeveloped film and put them in storage.  When she passed away, her storage lockers went up for auction and that’s how John Maloof, realtor and amateur historian, found her.  He has since been her biggest cheerleader, staging exhibitions, and getting a book of her work published, “Vivian Maier: Street Photographer.”

Looks like it could've been taken by any street style blogger, yesterday. Timeless. New York, 1954.

Looks like a movie set. January 9, 1957, Florida.

Her charges said she was like Mary Poppins, and in this self portrait she really looks the part with the hat, bicycle and long overcoat. She's inspiring me to write a character based on her. 1959.

You can tell how shy she was by her self-portraits. She likes seeing herself as tiny reflections, or just her shadows. She never looks made up, always with a plain, serious, somewhat self-conscious expression. 1953.

The great irony is that all this fame, money, and acclaim showering her is posthumous, and all the attention might have made her uncomfortable.  But at least she gets the adoration, and respect for her life long dedication to her art.

If you’re in the Brooklyn area on Friday, November 18, there will be a slideshow presentation and Q&A with John Maloof at the powerHouse Arena.


In related news, “treasure found in a storage unit auction…”


Makes you wanna go on “Storage Wars.”  Who knows you might find some gold, or the next Vivian Maier.