Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vivian Maier, street photography & the river,8,80&pid=A1hO97qcWo7ViDL_rWniVH2LakYxNa7J

Vivian Maier's story is still unfolding because not all of her photographs have been developed or seen, but what has been seen has been determined (by street photography experts and aficionados) to be phenomenal.

John Maloof happened upon a box of her photos at an auction in 2007. He was writing a book on the Chicago Neighborhood of Portage Park, but when he saw what he had (He instinctively knew he had something important) his aim in life changed. He has become the keeper of Maier's flame, developing and cataloging and showing Maier's photographs.

Returning to the question of whether photography is or can be "art," there seems little question in the minds of those who have seen Maier's work that what she has produced is "art," even though that word wasn't used in anything I watched or read.

She was homeless toward the end of her life until some of her former charges (she had worked as a nanny) decided to take care of her.

Wikipedia quotes Maloof summarizing "the way the children she nannied would later describe her:

"She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone."

Not everyone could be a street photographer. If you were a man with a solid frame and a serious expression, you might seem a threat to those lounging on street benches or in doorways, but if you were an eccentric woman who wore men's jackets, men's shoes, a large hat, and carried a camera around your neck, these same people would probably just smile at you.

I much prefer the river.  I don't know how many square miles we hike in -- not many -- but they are never the same. The weather changes and the river foliage dries up, and yellow leaves fall from Cotton Wood trees while Ginger pokes beneath them with her nose. And sometimes, after a heavy rain, there is water in it, and it is a very different place than when it was dry. Also, the light comes through the trees from so many different angles as the branches grow and and then dry up – and there is always something going on with the clouds and the sky:



And the branches of the trees, dry after a hot summer and autumn, change and at last crumple to the ground,


and my street people are all dogs.



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