Vivian Maier – Imagine Documentary – Assignment 1

Imagine…, Vivian Maier: Who took Nanny;s pictures? Presented by Alan Yentob


This documentary was a documentary about the interesting life and works of unknown photographer Vivian Maier. I considered this documentary as a tool that would help me with my assignment 1 research around Isolation, because Maier photographed a lot of people who were like her, so she could seek comfort that she wasn’t alone. Hopefully the approach and style will rub of on my process to capture photographs of isolation around Coventry and Birmingham. Here are some notes taken during the film.

-She never talked about her photography.

-She kept her life’s work in storage lockers, and when she died, they were bought without knowing their value.

-She knew no other photographers, it was a project entirely self motivated, entirely self fulfilling, creates a freedom, it’s her personal voice

-she’s like a poet trying to observe very carefully, to look at the world and locate what’s important to her

-we’re only seeing the photos that the people who bought the suitcases edited

-focusing on parents relationships with their children, some of it was sweet, but some was judgemental

-she was clearly a recluse

-the best way to capture the energy of a city was on the streets.

-she had an intense interest of people who were like her, a sense of loneliness that is painful, selected those shots out of her own sense of loneliness.

-photography can be a lonely profession, this is how she managed to do what she did

-her big project was experiencing life through photography

-appears to have few personal relationships, this displacement comes from not being with her father and living with a ‘violently insane photographer Jean Bertront, who had an illegitimate baby

-she followed her inner line of curiosity and its that that establishes an artist tendency

-on the street you’ve got to be fearless and take what you want, because its yours

-her compulsion to take pictures was her life, it’s what she’s left behind

Overall the documentary was a well considered, well researched insight into the mysterious live of Vivian Maier. I learn’t a lot about her, understanding her approach more, and learning the backstory behind her isolation. There is a clear link between her life and my photography project, so some themes explored should influence my style as I take images. I really enjoyed this documentary, it provided a punctum for more of her work.

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