Vivian Maier – The Original Street Photographer and Godmother of Selfies

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

You should have seen the documentary on Miss Vivian Maier already, if not then do so and then you will be compelled to see the photography for yourself.

Vivian Maier was a curious character, very much a lady who pet herself to herself, a woman who looked after children as a job but according to different reports could be a rather cold character. Not a huge amount is known about Maier apart from the accounts of  the families she worked for, her secret life as the most prolific street photographer perhaps of all time has only just come to light.

Maier died in 2009 and until then her huge body of work went unseen, until it was bought as a job lot by one fellow who spent hours sifting through the many boxes and realising he had hit upon gold. The exhibition has been around the world and now finds itself in Berlin for a small but perfectly formed retrospective at Will-Brandt-Haus, it is on until 12th April and is free, this is one exhibition to make sure you include in your schedule.

Maier was a curious character but also supremely adept at capturing people out of pose, in their natural environment and while they were not playing up to the camera. The subtly and lighting in her shots create a beautiful depth and story to each shot. The fact that she did not develop any of them, or name them means that these stories are somewhat lost but that adds to the beauty of the exhibition, sometimes you can have too much information.

Maier’s shots span NYC, SF, Chicago plus her travels to France and the Far East, the majority are black and white with some more recent colour versions. Maier was also the true originator of the now much maligned ‘selfie’, but in her technique it looks cool, stripped down and not showy at all. I worded how it would have sat with her to know she was the original selfie dropper…..