WK 7 – Finding Vivian Maier

The 2013 film Finding Vivian Maier is directed and written by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, is a biography documentary on Vivian Maier. An American living in New York and Chicago whose passion is photography. She never went anywhere without her Rolleiflex camera and unbeknownst to her contacts they did not comprehend how talent she was until after death. When you mentioned Vivian Maier name the words to describe her was secretive, aloof, standoffish and unapproachable. The privacy gave Vivian the desire freedom to be an invisible artist to create without hesitation.

The journey begins when John Maloof paid $380 for a box of Vivian Maier’s negatives at an auction house. His sole purpose was to find some Chicago photos for a research paper. What he didn’t realize he was embarking into the secret world of decreased Vivian Maier. An anonymous and reclusive street photographer in Chicago and New York whose works is compare to the likes of Robert Frank, Lisette Model, Helen Levitt and Diane Arbus. In researching more about this enigma, he learns through interviews that she was a nanny for prominent households throughout her life. This puzzles John, why would you be a housekeeper/nanny when you are artist of high caliber. While investigating, he uncovers a lifetime of her images – 100,000 negatives, 700 color rolls undeveloped, 2, 000 black and white rolls undeveloped, and film rolls in 8mm and 16mm. Don’t you wish you discovered her treasures at an auction?

I think it’s difficult to film a person doing research work without it being dull. The music production by Ralph create a score of musical rhythms in scenes that needed tempo where there is absent of words while portraying emotional bond in the surroundings or individuals. The sound mixing created smooth transitions within the frames to showcase John’s research techniques, dialogues, images and videos. I learn that there’s a difference between being a talented photographer and person who is printing your images. I thought you could be of both. This is a worthwhile movie that helps a novice to understand what unfolds in the photography world – the camera and filming techniques, networking commentaries, and the marketing truths. Thank you John and Charlie for taking on this legacy project. I’m sure Vivian Maier is shooting quick stills from heaven.  

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