The name Vivian Maier may strike a chord with fans of street photography. However, for those less familiar, Maier was an American amateur street photographer, born in New York City, and raised in France. She returned to the United States at 25 years old, and took up work as a nanny for almost forty years in Chicago. During this time, it is believed that she took approximately 100,000 photos primarily of people and cityscapes.
Despite her prolific documentation of Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century, her work was completely unknown, and for the most part undeveloped. That is until it was discovered by 26-year-old real estate agent John Maloof, an amature historian and president of the Jefferson Park Historical Society in Chicago.
Maloof initial bought 30,000 prints and negatives from an auction house, after the storage locker Maier was keeping her work in was seized due to missed payments. He immediately set out to discover more about this prolific street photographer, but was able to find out little more than her name, until just after her death in 2009, when he came across her obituary notice in the Chicago Tribune.
Maloof, now runs the Maloof Collection, and owns 100,000 to 150,000 negatives, over 3,000 vintage prints, hundreds of rolls of film, home movies, audio tape interviews, original cameras of Maier, documents and other items, which he tracked down from other buyers who attended the same auction. The collection now representing roughly 90 percent of Maier’s work.
Since its discovery, Vivian Maier’s body of work has received critical acclaim around the world, and Maloof has set himself the task of archiving and cataloging her work for the enjoyment of others. As a part of this work, in 2011 he launched a kickstarter project in order to create a documentary about the life of this mysterious photographer.
The official trailer for the film Finding Vivian Maier has now been released, and will tell the story of this incredibly talented street photographer who appears to have had no interest in being recognized for her work – but only a concern with the process of documentation.