Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vivian Maier

Many of you have probably already heard the story of Vivian Mair, the nanny who took thousands of photographs and never showed them to anyone. The body of work is as amazing as the story and I strongly suggest you visit the website: Be sure to check out the self portraits while you are there.

The reason I am writing about her today is I have been thinking about what it must have been like to be such a talented photographer and only do the work for herself. She didn't care if she impressed anyone, made any money, or won any contests. She was simply engaging in her passion. A pure dedication to her craft.

I know that even if I won the lottery today I would still continue to pursue photography. I really don't have a choice. My sanity and well being depend on it. I like to think I am making the images I want to make and not just for the market, but at this time in my life I do have financial goals that I need to consider. And to be perfectly honest, the need for some sort of validation is strong. I don't think I am alone in this, but just try to imagine for one minute, what it would feel like to create simply for yourself with no intention to ever share that work! ...........I feel so liberated and joyful when I think about that (even if it's only in that moment). Food for thought............

At the same time, I do believe art is meant to be shared. Art tells stories, teaches history, stirs emotions, forces questions, invokes curiosity and allows us to experience places and people in parts of the world most of us will never get to visit.

I am sure Vivian Maier had her reasons for keeping her images to herself and I am grateful for the gift she left behind, but I just can't stop thinking about "what if"??

I just know I am completely fascinated and inspired by this story and can't wait for the film and the book (which I just pre-ordered!) I also love how it is forcing me to look at my own motivations and stimulating my imagination. Good stuff!

Trailer: Finding Vivian Maier from John Maloof on Vimeo.


  1. Dianne--thank you for introducing me to Vivian. I never get tired of learning about other artist's personalities. I hadn't heard of her before but will look up her work. Her desire for privacy--or conversely, her lack of need to show the world her work reminds me of the poet Emily Dickinson. I suspect most of us land somewhere on the middle of the continuum ranging from total privacy to the "look at me!" end of things. It's that old question of balance again!

  2. Thanks Hannah! It's an interesting story isn't it? I agree with you that most probably do strike some sort of balance about their desire to share their work. I just think it's an interesting subject to ponder. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Dear Dianne,

    Last Saturday my son and I had a long private conversation and I shared with him some deep held thoughts and I was trying to tell me that my reason for living was to be able to create art. It does not mean I do not love him or anyone else in the family, but art is why I live and breath.

    If you took away my ability to take pictures and to paint, I would be an empty shell. I am who I am as a person. I guess the best way to explain this is that I am me because of my art, and yet who I am is because of the family.

    So I fully understand this post of your.

    Wishing you all the best,

  4. Thanks for your comment Egmont. I can relate to your passion and commitment to your art. When we create, we are happier and everyone around us benefits!

    Thanks again for stopping by!

  5. I recall reading about her recently - it may have been online. I didn't know about the movie and book. 100,000 images left behind?! And, they are so incredibly good. We live such narrow lives when we think that the only real or good art is what is famous and celebrated, the "top 40" and the Oscars or Grammys - nope! Great art is going on around us all the time in surprising ways and places.

    I am reminded of the film I saw on Alice Teel which was so fantastic I watched it over and over again.