These days every man, woman and dog has become an armchair photographer with the democratization of equipment and software. Cast your imagination back to the 1950’s when cameras were harder to get, film was expensive to buy, and the images being produced relied exclusively on inherent skill and talent that took time and passion to cultivate. This is what makes the astounding cache of images, taken by unknown photographer Vivian Maier and bought at a small auction in Chicago by historian and real estate agent John Maloof (for only $380) all the more impressive.
Vivian Maier’s official occupation was as a nanny for a number of families in the mid-twentieth century, yet as the thousands of stunning colour and black and white portraits and documentary style photographs reveal, taking photos was also a full-time job. From striking images of the down-trodden, homeless and marginalized people of the cities she dwelled in, to children revelling, locals shopping and laughing and dancing, as well as a number of fascinating and intimate self-portraits of Maier herself, large scale camera strapped to her neck and cradled in her hands.
The collector who made the incredible purchase at auction in 2007 has put together a showcase of all the images, which are both beautiful and historically important, which will be seen in a book and documentary. You can see a selection of these images below and watch the video here to learn more.