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Shooting the past


Bear with this video. If you can get past the introduction it is fascinating. The story of Vivian Maier is not going to reassure the family members of OCA students who are worried that photography can become an obsession, even without the drug that is flickr. The video also touches on a subject we will be returning to shortly, the role of photography as an investment.
Apologies due to Steven Poliokof for the title of this post – it’s just a story – but one of the most moving pieces of drama about the power of photographs I’ve ever seen.


Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka
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7 thoughts on “Shooting the past

  • What a great set of images, the quality looks to be great, certainly up there as they mention in the commentary.

  • Very emotional and inspiring indeed. Her fantastic work is now available to all of us thanks to John Maloof’s great chance of stumble upon in and bringing in to the community. I’ve always wonder how many negatives have lost into ubscurity by people who don’t see photography.
    Funnily, I was chatting with my mason the other day and he told me that his father used to be a keen photographer. His favourite technique was handpainting which took him of course loads of hours working on his prints. When Jim’s father died, Jim’s mother collected all the precious handpainted prints, which were very many, and threw them away. My heart sunk. Surely they could have been donated to the art centre?

  • What an extraordinary body of work! Beautiful images which denote the sensibility of the photographer. Two things spring to mind when looking at Vivian Maier’s images. Firstly, that photography, in my opinion, is about the world out there. Or as Cartier-Bresson would have put it, about “life, life, life” – yes, apparently he said it three times. Secondly, that a photograph is not complete until it is made public, that is, until the wider public has seen it. It is only then that the full circle of communication closes – you took it from the public, you place it back in a public context, it makes sense to me.
    Maier’s images also remind me of the work of John Gay, a British photographer who captured the collective post-war effort to resume normal life in Britain in the late 40’s and 50’s. His trademark style was spontaneous candids with a gentle touch of humour. You can see John Gay’s archive at English Heritage here http://viewfinder.english-heritage.org.uk/story/intro.aspx?storyUid=87. A search on John Gay on Viewfinder will return thousands of the photographer’s images, well worth seeing.

  • Fantastic images – can’t wait to see what else is in there.
    This is the sort of find that many dream of – what a discovery.
    So sad that she wasn’t recognized in her lifetime, as with so many artists.
    Looks like they need some professional help with scanning and selection otherwise it’ll be many years before the archive can be evaluated alongside other street photography. Wish I lived a bit nearer!

  • Breathtaking – depressing and inspirational at the same time. Tragic that she wasn’t recognised in her own time? Contemporary recognition of street photographer is tough – imagine walking the streets today and capturing images – yeah. so what, nothing new there. But when they become an historical record, suddenly they are valued. The black and white medium helps that nostalgic effect. Perhaps Maier’s work was destined to be appreciated afetr her death – keep those pictures in the attic or on the spare hard disc safe!

  • After seeing just a handful of images to begin with, it hits home that this is a startling talent. The portraits and choice of subject are fascinating. Often a picture is both an historical record and a timeless piece of art. Inspiring!

  • Love her work…the website is full of amazing stuff…just makes you wonder how many hidden treasures there are out there. Her work reminds me of some of Helen Levitt’s earlier black and white photographs.
    Listening to the movie got me thinking about the curatorial role of John Maloof…for someone who was not a photographer he has grasped her work and seems to have committed his life to it. Don’t think this would be something for me….but he might make a few bucks out of his investment…I suspect that this is the real motivation rather than a desire to show the public her work..or am I a cynic.

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