Vivian Maier, Street Photographer

Vivian Maier, Self Portrait

This will appeal to anyone who hopes to find a treasure at estate sales or auctions. It’s a mystery story about a talented photographer who chronicled life in 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

In 2007, John Maloof went to an auction and bought a box of 30,000 negatives. He started looking through the negatives and found an incredible body of work of a street photographer. He could only learn that the photos had belonged to an ill, elderly woman. The auction house would not tell him her name. He was intrigued. Who was this wonderful, unknown photographer?

Maloof’s new mission was to learn more about the photographer. He tracked down other people who also bought boxes of negatives at the auction. He purchased the negatives from them until he collected about 100,000. Finally in 2009, serendipity — in one box, he found an envelope from a photo lab with her name, Vivian Maier. Since then he’s been able to put together a rough history of her life and now is working on a book and a documentary film to bring her work to the world.

Gallery at Chicago Magazine

Chicago Magazine tells this tale so much better than I could ever do, so I encourage you to read their article and check out the web sites with examples of Vivian Maier’s wonderful photos from the 1950s though the 1970s.

Thank goodness that John Maloof recognized how great these photos are. Otherwise we may never have been able to enjoy them.

Chicago Magazine:

John Maloof’s Vivian Maier blog

Jeff Goldstein is another collector who has 12,000 more photos and an other blog: Vivian Maier Photography

Chicago Tonight video

Kickstarter: “Finding Vivian Maier” – a feature length documentary film

Exhibition: Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer

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