Street Photographer’s Work Discovered A Few Days After Her Death

Street Photographer’s Work Discovered A Few Days After Her Death

Vivian Maier's street photography was recently "discovered" just a few days after she died at the age of 83. The Chicago nanny took over 100,000 photographs and many say she may rank among the top street photographers of the 20th century.

Read The Vivian Maier Update post here.

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Trevor's picture

Methinks the title of this post could use a little reworkin' hehe.

Lee Morris's picture

@ Trevor, does it sound like her "body" was discovered?

Roy Patton's picture

wow thats crazy, i work full time at a Public Storage, and i see alot of photo's and photo related stuff go to auction, this makes you think.... As A Photographer, What Will people remember me by.....

Bruno Mão de Ferro's picture

I dont know a lot about street photography but there i saw some of the best photographs ever seen in terms of story telling they all have so much content its amazing...

Seshan's picture

@Lee Yeah, that's what it sounds like to me, that's what I thought.

Anyways, It's interesting to see some one with such great work that was doing photography because they loved it and didn't care about becoming famous or making money off of it.

Mark Perez's picture

ummm WOW

Green Wing's picture

Totaly BEAUTIFUL.... if I could leave a legacy like that behind then I would die a happy man, thank you so much for sharing this Lee !! :)

George's picture

Amazing. Some of the best photography I have ever seen.

Bixby's picture

@Lee, that's what I thought when I read the title of the post. It was a pleasant surprise, though, when I watched the video. Thanks for this post, I'm pumped up to always press that shutter everday. This is a truly inspiring story. Thanks!

Andrew Williams's picture

beautiful photos and I wouldn't be suprised if they made her life into a movie. I'd see it.

Von Wong's picture

hahah +1 to Trevor's comment.

I was like HOLY SHIT they discovered a dead photographer pile dunder 100,000 photographs!

Nice documentary!

Lee Morris's picture

"work" has been added to the title ;)

marc's picture

great story and great find, those are some kickass photos

Guillermo Alessandri's picture

This totally blew my mind. Amazing work and vision. To dedicate your life with such a passion without no one ever knowing it. Its mesmerizing.

Pratik Naik's picture

I am moved, a little choked up to be honest. What a great thing this man is doing to show the world her work that is meant to be seen by everyone. The work is breath taking, really.

Ling-Ling's picture

She is amazing.

Nicholas gonzalez's picture

Incredibly moving, beautiful story. How amazing the work and life of Vivian Maier.

goodfellacsula's picture

Chances are that if she never shared her work was because she didn't want to. To know that after her death her work is being put out there is kind of sad.

Spy Black's picture

We don't really know the reasons why someone would shoot that much never to show it. Perhaps she never thought of herself as worthy, yet her recluse lifestyle kept her from interacting with people that could have made her realize what she had accomplished.

We don't know, but she certainly had to realize that once she was gone her work would be exposed. It could very well have all been incidentally destroyed and never seen. We are fortunate it went into the hands of someone who appreciated her work.

Shannon Wimberly's picture


Yousif Jawhar's picture

I'm not sure what to say. A truly inspiring person.. she did what she loved for the passion of it, nothing more.

David Snyder's picture

John should send all of the negatives to a company like Scan Cafe and have them professionally scanned. Let them know what you have and I'll bet they would work out special rates just to help get them digitized for historical purposes.

Marshall Baker's picture

Wow, crazy. Wish she had some recognition for it while she was around

Kevin Bost's picture

That gave me chills. Once in a lifetime does a Great emerge out of death, and I think it just happened...

I would give anything to work on this project. Anything.

Paul's picture

That was breathtaking. Her body of work is like an amazing time capsule. This has inspired me to try and capture the essence of my city at this moment in history.

Jon Miller's picture

Absolutely amazing work. I do hope they do several shows and some world tours, her work definitely warrants it. Truly passion drove her to shoot and I'm sure she just kept on shooting just to capture that split time in life that says it all.
Great story, great find.

Kim Mallory's picture

What an awe inspiring event that is happening here.... Kudo's to John for recognizing the value of amazing photographic art. I have chills just seeing the few images here, I can't imagine what other greats are in those boxes.

Bartosz Madejski's picture

Thanks a lot for sharing this. Amazing story and some exceptional photos. It's so ironic that all that could have gone to waste - so lucky someone gave those the attention they deserved.

Patrick Hall's picture

@goodfella, one reason she might not have shared her work was because she didn't really have an audience at the time. Seems like very few prints were recovered which means she just didn't print much. I'm not sure how you get better as a photographer by only seeing your negatives but something tells me most people would feel extremely proud to have their work on this sort of platform years after your death.

Donnie Bell Design's picture

Talk about leaving a legacy. The timing couldn't be better.

Josh's picture

This story is truly amazing, I can't believe that her talent has been undiscovered all this time. It's exciting that there are still 90,000+ of her photos that still haven't been seen by anyone.

saundra's picture

i know it's a daunting task, but an important one. vivian is an amazing artist and her work should have a national exhibition.

good luck!

Cris Magsino's picture

wow! this one got me teary-eyed. i hope she finally gets the recognition that she truly deserve.

Tulaga Whitcombe's picture


luis colon's picture

This story is truly amazing, this story tell us what ever you do in life .. is for the passion of what ever ,, she really capture amazing moments.

rest in peace. Vivian Maier’s

Robert Aldridge's picture

He doesn't know what do do with her stuff?


J.R.'s picture

I hope there will be a book sometime in the future. It goes to show that someone as unassuming as Vivian Maier can produce such an incredible body of work. I'm pretty sure there will be a permanent place for her work in an institution of some kind. Kudos to John for starting up the work to scan and preserve all those images.

Teresa's picture

what a goldmine! would love to see her work some day

cedric n. chatterley's picture

Love it. Vivian used a real camera and real film and looked at real life. She was moved by something deep inside her. Bless her heart, and may she rest in peace. And may her work end up in the right place / right hands to be cared for.

James Bowen's picture

I love the perspective provided by waist level shooting. The Rollei is great for that

Reuben V. Greene,III's picture

As someone who values both inspired photography and poetry, it is obvious to me that Vivian Maier was a poet of photography. The sheer beauty, inspired focus and manner of wrapping her subject in warmth and light makes one stop, take notice, pause, then realize that we are looking at mastery beyond the ability of words to accurately describe.

Deborah Serpabrandl's picture

Dave Burns PBS KOCE get on it!!!
Ya better hurry before someone else does!!!
And this Great Talent is looking down from Heaven and she is enjoying every moment of admiration of her life work!!!
She is to be admired and honored!!!
May she Rest In Peace now!!!
She has a castle in the sky and a crown of diamonds, rubies, and pearls!!!

Perry Smith's picture

I would like to be able to follow this man's work to get these photographs out to the public. Does he have a web site or any way to follow him? I've love for a showing of those images to come to Austin (or anywhere in Texas). I'd drive 6 hours to go see those for sure!

Mark Hudson's picture

It made me stop and wonder how many other of these gems are out there not found? Thank you Fstoppers for your site.

hanoitattoo's picture
Ronald Baker's picture

I found this piece on Ms. Maier to be awe-inspiring. As a professional photojournalist for the last 37 years and a passionate lover of photography since I got my first point & shoot camera in 1963, this discovery is motivating me go go back through my own archives from the early 70's and comb my negatives for images that aren't just of famous people. When you've photographed every U.S. President since Jimmy Carter to President Obama (never photographed Reagan), you forget the value of just photographing people being people. I stopped using film after 2000 and I've been digital since but those times when I venture to my file cabinets to rediscover images on negatives taken over my first 27 years as a professional, it's the sweetest journey a photographer can take.

Fred Thomas's picture

Very nice, but the pictures are still subject to copyright. Even if the photographer is dead, the phiotographer's family still holds the rights.

Spy Black's picture

The photographers family had no idea of what she did, apparently she distanced herself from said family. I think the fellow working on this stuff has more genuine interest in her work than any "family" that might crawl out of the woodwork. While he certainly hopes to gain financial rewards out of this, I can just imagine "family" involvement of such.

Cindy Romano's picture

To bad she was discovered after her death and could not enjoy her plus her images. I loved the different designs she created in her adventures.

Glenn Weissel's picture

To witness the beauty and essence of humanity in Vivian's photos is a humbling experience.

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