Vivian Maier

Yesterday we cycled down to the German Gymnasium to check out the Vivian Maier exhibition hosted by the London Street Photography Festival. It’s a great opportunity to see Maier’s photographs and the German Gymnasium which, I discovered, was actually gymnasium for the German gymnastics society, designed in 1864 by Edward Gruning, is a great space for the exhibition.

Miss Maier did not take photographs to show others. She worked as a Nanny and that was her job. Before settling in 1951 New York, she traveled quite a bit around Europe and the US. This travelling must have empowered her keen eye for noticing the magic in everyday moments. I imagine Maier, who wore men’s shoes and took long purposeful strides, had a childlike appreciation of the life. The choices she makes for her photographs bring out a beauty and rawness in human interactions. There is also a great humour in her compositions. She used a Rolleiflex camera which I imagine made it a less obtrusive task to snap subjects unknowingly as you look down to take that magic moment as opposed to bringing the camera up to your eye. The camera was positioned perfectly at child height. When looking at her photos you are at points given the child’s perspective.

No one ever saw Maier’s photos until 2007 when a guy called John Maloof bought them through an auction house. Maier had not been able to pay her rent, and the contents of her flat had been repossessed and auctioned off. Maloof has now dedicated his time to restoring all of her photographs.

She is fast becoming one of my favourite photographers, however I wonder how this intensely private person who was forcibly opinionated would feel about her personal photograph collection gaining such large public attention.

Vivian Maier exhibition
At the German Gymnasium Map
On till 24th July

All photos via the Vivian Maier Website
The story of Vivian Maier

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