Vivian Maier, BBC Imagine documentary

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by batwister, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. batwister

    batwister Member

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  2. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    She's obviously now gone mainstream - shame she isn't around to receive the accolades. I've teetered and fallen off the edge over the story not through her pictures which I still think are good. The internet makes everything so damn fleeting.
     
  3. Noble

    Noble Member

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    If I like a picture, I like a picture. It doesn't matter who took it. And if I like an artist I like an artist whether they've been overexposed on the internet or not.

    My problem with Maier is I've never seen anyone say she accomplished anything extraordinary. To me it would seem her picture taking was a manifestation of some kind of mental disorder. If you walk around with a camera and take thousands upon thousands of pictures over the course of decades there are bound to be some winners. That is not the hallmark of a great artist. I do like the fact she documented a lot of mundane things. I like documenting things too. I wouldn't call a lot of what I do fine art though.
     
  4. Pioneer

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    Shades of Winogrand!!

    She did take some really magnificent shots amongst those thousands of pictures. I am only one person but I do consider her work the work of an artist.
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I have seen original negatives of VM as well I have studied her book.
    IMHO she had a great eye, fantastic in fact.

     
  6. Noble

    Noble Member

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    I consider her an artist.
     
  7. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Agree. I don't see any sparks of genius in her pictures, no real consistent subjective concerns and no stylistic trademarks. There are some standout images, but nothing that really stands out from her peers. This is an important thing for the scholars to consider before rewriting the history books.
     
  8. Noble

    Noble Member

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    [​IMG]

    Vivian Maier's take on Egypt. Remember though. This was culled from THOUSANDS of negatives spanning decades. This was what was carefully chosen as one of the minority of images to be put in a portfolio on the site named after her.
     
  9. ToddB

    ToddB Subscriber

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    I've been curious about she went about devloping these rolls back in the day. Must of been dirt cheap.

    ToddB
     
  10. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Considering it costs 84 cents to develop a C-41 220 roll of Portra 160 through the Walmart send out service I wonder how much could really be shaved off. Given the volume of shooting she did I wondered about the economics as well. My mental illness statement wasn't just a cheap swipe at a departed woman. My understanding is many of the negatives were never printed and tens of thousands were never developed.
     
  11. batwister

    batwister Member

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    For any serious street photographer of that period, I'm sure this isn't quite so abnormal. Today it would be of course, just for the cost. Making fine prints of every negative is surely the reason many never make any good images, and fall into the 'craft' rabbit hole. I think this is rooted in finances too - every neg is worth its weight in gold.

    The fact that she didn't have a holistic approach to photography doesn't interest me - many greats didn't - but the fact that she made any good images with no mentoring or second opinion is quite remarkable. But I think it's also the reason her images, in my eyes, don't have that special something. No man, or woman, is an island.
     
  12. Noble

    Noble Member

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    You are saying it was normal to shoot tens of thousands of negatives and not develop them?! I have never heard of that in my life. I am not a professor of photography so my ignorance is almost limitless. Do you have a link to a reference for that statement?

    I don't think of the Walmart send out service prints I get for $2 with developing and printing as "fine prints" and I would hardly describe driving to Walmart as "craft." You do go down a rabbit hole though. I give you that.

    She didn't even send a huge chunk of her negatives to be developed. "Didn't have a holistic approach" is the understatement of the year. I don't consider getting film developed and getting some dime store prints "holistic." I consider that the whole point. Maybe I got into this hobby for the wrong reasons.
     
  13. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Winogrand had quite a stash of undeveloped film after his death, thousands rather than tens of thousands. But when you're less sure of your talent - as I suggested of Maier - the pile she had doesn't surprise me. It doesn't necessarily mean she was psychotic. She wasn't getting feedback about her pictures, she was going solely off her intuition and her intuition was probably telling her 'the best picture is around the next corner'. I'm guessing there's a lot of corners in Chicago/New York.

    Nothing surprises me when it comes to photography/art and excess. I think ultimately the question is; do you have to be mad to be a prolific artist?

    We are talking about an intense creative here, not a sunday photographer. And you did get into photography for the right reasons - your own.
     
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  15. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    I like many of her photos also, but I can't help but think that the greater part of what has captivated the the world about her is the personal story. Winogrand? Bresson? Unfair comparison, I know, but sorry - Maier's not even close.
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Maybe she didn't think there was anything significant on them. Maybe she was spending time and money on more film and shooting, to find the picture she really wanted. Maybe, like the guy who buys an old car but never gets around to restoring it, she planned to develop them, but it just didn't happen.

    Maybe she just got old, and found it harder to keep up.
     
  17. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I think she's terrific. Maybe cause I'm from NYC and many of her shots are from there. Another couple of things that make her pictures interesting is that they are dated. The people, the clothes they wear, the cars, the locales are from 50 years ago. Photos of past eras are always interesting to view especially for people like me who live through the era. Also, her low shots aimed up due to shooting from a waist level MF viewfinder also give different perspective then you see usually.

    Just enjoy her pictures. Is there any need to compare to others?
     
  18. NDKodak

    NDKodak Member

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    I think what Maier left behind for what ever reason is a great gift for everyone, like finding a time capsule or unearthing a historical artifact. Everyone can make up their own mind what a artist is and whether she was one or not. But what I will say what makes the difference between successful artist and a less sucessful artist is who works the hardest. I would say she stayed pretty active with her photography. Now for what ever reason she didn't print most of her negatives, but she still kept shooting film, so we know she was always thinking about her work. I know from my own experience sometimes it is just fun to walk around a find compositions and enjoy what I found even though know one else will ever know what I saw and kept to myself. Maybe that is what Maier did, she just enjoyed the visualization of her compositions and she was happy with that and did not need to have prints made.
     
  19. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Honest enjoyment of the pictures for their subject matter. A most refreshing post.
     
  20. Pioneer

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    +1 Alan. I also enjoy just looking at her pictures. I personally see a humanity, and interest in others, in her pictures that I do not always find in other artist's work. I just get the feeling that she enjoyed what she was doing regardless of whether or not she ever printed anything. :smile:
     
  21. Lionel1972

    Lionel1972 Member

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    Personnally, I can't get enough of her work. Her pictures moves me deeply on many levels, most strongly on an aesthetic level. I don't give much value to an artist based on how original a style or how much social or political statements he or she tries to convey. To my eyes any good photograph of hers wins hands down up against all the Cartier-Bresson photos I've seen so far. Hers just touch me more deeply, but of course that can be just me. It's pointless to create competition in the artistic field, all is a question of personnal taste and sensitivity. I don't care who is best, all I care for is what I love and I love Vivian Maier's work. Her fascinating story is a bonus.
     
  22. mono

    mono Subscriber

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    To me she´s one of the great street photographers!
    I´ve seen her images in Hamburg and I love her work.
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You are in the NY area, have you seen her prints?, They are at Howard Greenburg gallery to view, also there is going to be a show of her work at Stephen Bulger gallery here this year in Toronto. I am very excited to see this work as I have only seen a small body of original negs, and one of the poorly printed books.

    One of my friends owns 33 original negatives of Vivian Maier, she bought them on the internet at the very beginning stage when the person who bought the locker the negs were in, did not understand what he was sitting on and was selling them on Ebay.
    She purchased them online . I must say that I think Vivian Maier's work is up there with the best , but that is only my opinion.
    Time will tell , who curates the negatives, who decides what gets printed and how will be a big factor on where her place in history ends up.
    I believe it is way to early to compare her work with Winogrand, Bresson, Brassai and others of her timeline before and after. Give her work some breathing room and pardon the pun but see how her work is developed.


     
  24. Noble

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    It's not "like" finding a historical artifact. It is a historical artifact. What you said here and what someone else said about comparing her to her contemporaries is I what I was getting at. If anyone holds a camera straight, focuses, uses reasonable exposure, does that perhaps hundreds of thousands of times and the results are found half a century later by pure chance it will cause a sensation out of proportion to the actual fine art value.

    Let me be clear. I like looking at her pictures from a documentation point of view. I am not as into people photography as her simply because I don't want that level of interaction, but I do a lot of shooting that is simply documenting things. I try and make pictures that are technically good. But I don't think even the ones that are reasonably composed and technically very good are mind blowing in a fine art sense. They might be good pictures but they aren't head and shoulders above similar images by other competent artists. I am not trying to be self deprecating or put down Maier I'm just saying if people are all of a sudden going gaga over Maier why weren't they going gaga over her contemporaries who were at least as good or in my opinion better. My answer? The story of the discovery and the shear volume. Doesn't mean they are bad pictures. But this is photography not painting. Cameras and film are designed for the average person with some thought and practice to take decent pictures. Even before Maier came along I would always tell noobs that if they did a decent job with the technical stuff, gave some thought to composition, and pressed the shutter enough they would eventually have a portfolio of 10 solid shots.
     
  25. Bob Carnie

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    Name a few contemporarys working in Chicago at that time ??
     
  26. cliveh

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    She was good and had an eye for an image, but not even in the same league as HCB.