Finding Vivian Maier – an intimate portrait of a reclusive street photographer

August 5 – (Miami) One of the interesting things about photography is that the images will last forever, even after a person dies. The same can be said about the beauty of photography and the unique appeal that comes from taking shots of everything that surrounds us. It’s a magnificent way to live our life, and that’s exactly what we see in a compelling documentary named “Finding Vivian Maier”. This documentary focuses on following the life of Vivian Maier, a street photographer that managed to create thousands of images showcasing the lifestyle of the 1950s and 1960s Chicago unlike never before. But as you can find from this very impressive movie is the fact that despite her love for art, she never exhibited nor published her work during her lifetime.

Maier worked as a nanny, something that’s reflected by the many pictures in which she is surrounded by kids of multiple ages. The interesting thing is some of those children took care of her in turn even until her death in 2009.

The major downside here is that she didn’t get any recognition for her worknyet her legacy remains and the astounding images we find clearly show the passion and love that she had for street photography.

The first time her work was exposed to the world was in 2007, when John Maloof, which went on to actually direct Finding Vivian Maier, bought some her negatives found in a storage unit auction. Until that point, if you Googled Maier, she didn’t exist online.  Maloof spent hundreds of hours sifting through her negatives, which represented most of her work from the 50s and 70s. and yet he still didn’t know their true value of the 40,000 negatives —- some of which  were complete masterpieces.

And this is when the world actually started to learn more about Vivian Maier, mainly thanks to the fact that Maloof presented some of her work to The Independent, a British newspaper that manages to focus on the quality that the photographs offered and the wonderful legacy that they included.

This is only a portion of the documentary though, because most of Finding Vivian Maier is focused specifically on her life and the way she managed to capture the world through the eyes of her camera. Within this street photography documentary we can find something about the tools that she used, the places where she liked to go and visit in order to capture the perfect shots.

While the movie is created in such a way so that Maloof actually tries to discover the mysteries behind this now famous street photographer and her own personal style,  we can also consider this as an advertisement or a commercial venture. Still, the idea of seeing the entire experience as a riddle just waiting to be solved is intriguing which makes it one of the best biographical documentaries ever produced about a photographer.

The movie also comes with some very interesting questions that pertain to the role of art in our society and the way we see it today. Some artists express themselves through street photography while others paint their block and so on. The simple idea of sanctifying art and focusing on the rich, amazing benefits that this brings to any society.

Nevertheless, Finding Vivian Maier does also manage to focus on her status as an artist , despite never being classically trained.  Instead, she placed a lot of focus on capturing the world in her own style, without actually caring about the external aspects of being a photographer i.e. exposure and fame. The movie also touches on her simplicity and the passion that she had when it comes to helping people and the reasons that made her combine the duty of a caregiver with street photography.

The director touches on the methods Maier used which were slightly unorthodox at the time and also highlights, in both cinema and television, the current phenomenon that actual humans are more interesting than fictional characters.

Finding Vivian Maier is not only a well-done, compelling movie, it’s also one of the best movies ever produced portraying the intimate details of the life of a street photographer.

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