Secret Photographer (02:16)
Nanny Vivian Maier took pictures of street scenes daily, accumulating 150,000 mostly undeveloped images. Just before her death, her life's work was discovered in a Chicago storage space; she's now considered a modern master.
Asocial Behavior (03:44)
A movie theater manager describes Maier's regular attendance and eccentric qualities. Former charge Inger Raymond recalls Maier's artistic focus; Maier photographed many children on a Chicago beach.
Vivian Maier Phenomenon (02:09)
Maier stopped paying storage rent at the end of her life. Her work was sold; the auctioneer regrets throwing away correspondence. Her photographs now sell for thousands in New York and attract a wide audience. Fans identify with her story.
Gaining Recognition (02:54)
Ron Slattery paid $250 for a collection of Maier's negatives. While selling prints on eBay, an art professor contacted collectors, confirming their value. Photographers worry their edits don’t reflect Maier’s artistic identity.
Collecting Process (03:23)
Slattery was unable to track down Maier until she died. Jeff Goldstein is the second largest owner of Maier's work; he brought armed backup while exchanging negatives for cash.
Internal Artist (02:51)
Maier photographed for herself, and didn't exhibit or publish her work. She took portraits of street characters, children, and families she worked for.
Observing Through the Lens (02:13)
View images taken as a nanny in the Chicago suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s. Maier worked longest for the Ginsberg family; a former neighbor recalls Maier using the camera to separate herself from the group.
Camera Disguise (03:02)
Maier looked down at her Rollerflex while shooting, rather than making eye contact, allowing her to come close to subjects; she became present and "absent." A former neighbor discusses Maier's images of parents and children, and talent at capturing history.
Raymond was surprised by how many pictures Maier took of her as a child. Maier taught her photography basics and took her on walks around their suburb. Maier would take a train toward Chicago after work but never disclosed her destination.
Street Scenes (02:18)
Maier took a train to downtown Chicago to take pictures, whenever possible. She ventured into dangerous neighborhoods and took one shot per situation. She spent all her money on film equipment.
Experiencing Life through Photography (03:05)
A roll of Maier's film provides a sense of her daily routine; she captured raw emotion in street portraits. A former charge describes her feminist politics, abrasive personality, and unwillingness to talk about herself.
Family History (02:52)
Maier's mother and grandmother lived in New York as domestic servants to escape an illegitimate past in France. In 1919, Maier's mother married. Maier was born in 1926 and lived in the Bronx with studio photographer Jeanne Bertrand who had given up a child for adoption.
Return to France (03:14)
Maier lived in her mother's village from age 6 to 12; she later photographed the area. Former classmates describe her New York perspective and creative mind.
First Photos (02:40)
Maier returned to her mother's village after World War II at age 24 to sell her great aunt's farm. Following an inner curiosity, she established an artistic tendency. A neighbor describes her as refined and sincere.
Photography Education (03:58)
In 1951, Maier returned to New York, found work as a nanny, and focused on photography. She accessed subjects like Salvador Dali and sought people living on the edge in the Bowery, approaching fearlessly to get the desired shot.
A photographer discusses why Maier created for herself. In the late 1960s, the Ginsberg family no longer needed her services. She witnessed the Chicago Riots and focused on negative images and bad news in 1968.
Career Legacy (03:31)
As Maier's nanny jobs became shorter, she developed hording and secretive behavior. She stopped photographing in the 1980s but inspired a generation of amateur street photographers. She died in 2009.
Credits: The Vivian Maier Mystery (00:45)
Credits: The Vivian Maier Mystery
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