Excellent photos taken by Vivian Maier, a mysterious American nanny
Vivian Maier was born in 1926 in New York, but spent most of her childhood and youth in France. She returned to the United States in 1951. She worked as a nanny and caregiver in New York and Chicago, yet her lifetime’s passion was photography. In her free time, she documented the life of the city. She took snaps mainly in the streets of Chicago and New York, and also during her many journeys to Canada, India, Egypt and Yemen.
She has never been a professional photographer. She took for her own pleasure photos depicting elegant women, enamoured couples and children playing in the streets, as well as manual workers and the homeless. She aptly presented racial and class differences in American society.
Self-portraits are among the most interesting series of photos taken by Vivian Maier. They depict her silhouette or reflection in a mirror or a shop window. Today they would be called selfies. These interesting views of her face tell a lot about her reserved and enigmatic nature.
None of the people around her was aware of the great talent of Vivian Maier. She was an introvert and guarded her privacy. She struggled with financial problems, this is probably why many of her films have never been developed, which means that she has not even seen the results of her work.
She kept all her private things, including boxes full of negatives, in a rented storage. And as she was behind with rent payments, in 2007 the contents of the storage were put to an auction. This was how her works came to light. She was discovered by John Maloof who looked for old photographs to illustrate a book about the history of Chicago. He bought at a local auction a box with negatives dating back to 1960s without knowing the contents. And his purchase proved to be one of the major photographic discoveries of the past decades.
Vivian Maier left over 100,000 negatives and hundreds of film rolls. In 2009, John Maloof published the first works of the photographer on his blog, and next on an official website. Several albums featuring her photographs have been published, and a documentary entitled "Finding Vivian Maier" has been made, yet the history of her life and work still to a large extent remains a mystery.