I'd like to think she might have been here, yes. I'd love to ask her directly about her work, instead of indirectly relying on the opinions of armchair "authorities" who, like myself, never even met the photographer.
Pity that she wasn't privy back in the day to feedback from all of these current authorities we are blessed with today. Maybe she'd have been able to avoid all of the horrors of failing in the 1950s to live up to the fads... err, standards... of the 2010s. Poor woman didn't schmooze with celebrities, have a high-powered agent, and probably never even heard of the Rule of Thirds. How could her work have had any lasting impact whatsoever? Why did she even bother?
Over the years I have looked at many reproductions of HCB photographs. My sense is that he wanted very much to make them because he had something he wanted very badly to say. But there is a difference for me when I look at Ms. Maier's "lesser" photographs. In her case I get the distinct feeling that she wasn't making them because she wanted to. She was making them because she HAD to. As if she couldn't have stopped even if she had wanted to stop, and that the subject matter was largely irrelevant and just an excuse. I could be wrong, of course. But that's what I think I see.
For me this single aspect trumps all of the other more formal academic classifications and rules that the experts try to apply to judge worthiness. The difference in emotional investment between "want to" and "have to" is enormous. And raw emotional involvement—regardless of its source—is the most powerful creative motivation anyone can have. It's the difference between what Mr. Picker referred to as "admirable" photographs that are perfect, and "wonderful" photographs that are sublime. And I believe he was absolutely correct in that differentiation.
Personally, I'll always choose the lesser wonderful photograph that shows a deeper emotional connection to the photographer over an admirable photograph that is simply a well-executed, dry exercise in perfect compositional rule-following. I want to know that when the photographer finally released that shutter, it was because there was no other viable option remaining on the table. No more questions to be asked. No more answers to be given. It just had to be done.