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Vivian Maier - The Greatest Photographer You’ve Never Known

Most photographers, are looking for validation from their peers. We’re so often on flickr, 500px, twitter, and Facebook; showing off our work to others. Vivan Maier however, lived an entire life as an incredible street photographer, without anyone knowing or seeing her work for nearly 50 years. The new film, Finding Vivian Maier is hoping to expose a new audience to the work of Vivian Maier.

This isn't the first time Fstoppers has posted about Vivian Maier. Vivian Maier wasn't discovered as a street photographer until 2007, when boxes of her negatives and film went up for auction in a random Chicago auction house. Photos, now over 50 years old, that are finally coming to life and seeing eyes for the first time. During her life, Vivian was a nanny for a family in Chicago for over 40 years. While living in their attic, she took over 100,000 photos in that time, and no one had any idea. Photos that captured Los Angeles, Bangkok, Egypt, Italy and the American Southwest.

Her story is breathing new life with the documentary film entitled Finding Vivian Maier. The film, is coming to life thanks to a Kickstarter Project, that surfaced after her story gained national attention. The film is a further in depth look into the life of Vivian Maier, both before her gained attention, and the short time following it.

Since her passing in 2009, Vivian's work has been shown on a website under her name, and dozens of gallery showings across the globe. Watch the trailer above, and see some of her work below.

Undated, New York, NY1957, Chicago, ILSept. 24, 1959, New York, NYMay 5, 1955, New York, NYUntitled, October 14, 1968, Chicago, IL
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Jason Vinson's picture

so want to watch this!!!

J. Dennis Thomas's picture

This is such an amazing tale. Unbelievable. 

kurtberns's picture

thats like me...  30 years 140000 images.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Love hearing about this woman! She is by far one of my favorite photographers of all time, the best part is she wasn't even known until her photos were found in an attic. So amazing!

Keith Hammond's picture

" the best part is she wasn't even known until her photos were found in an attic"

I'm not sure thats the best part...............i feel thats the saddest part

Deleted Account's picture

 I don't feel sad. She didn't want fame. She didn't want to get paid or even be recognized. She did it for herself. It was a part of her private life. I am not sure what to thing about exposing her work to the world right now.

Andrew Griswold's picture

It is a little upsetting to think that way about the photos being found closed away in an attic but with most great artists and primarily painters their work wasn't known or famous until after their deaths, which is a sad twist on the striving to be famous and successful artists in some cases to have filled a life of work and not become popular until after your demise. A little part of me wants this story to be a little about her collecting these images her entire life and then just before her death having them released into the public for everyone to see as a final goodbye. The craziest part is after her storage locker was sold originally to that guy her death was not far from that, just days! Maybe it was on purpose or just a complete coincidence that her boxes were sold around the same date. I can't wait to watch the entire documentary, here is a longer video of the details that went into the story behind finding all the photos though, just astonishing! 

Jason Vinson's picture

 the photos were not found in an attic. they where in a storage locker that was being auctioned off due to no payment. the guy doing the documentary bought them hoping to find pictures of the city for an unrelated book and stumbled upon the greatness! 

Andrew Griswold's picture

I know that part, I was referencing the large collection of stuff that was found when he went to her old place where she lived alone in someones attic. The guys found outfits, cameras and more boxes full of film and photos. I think its in the longer video I linked above, check it out. 

Jason Vinson's picture

ah i see!! thanks! Ill check it out!! i cant believe I'm just not hearing about this in the last week or so. Such great images and such a great story! i have been skipping out on doing work all of Friday and most of today looking at her stuff!! lol

Syman St's picture

I think these are some of the best photographs ever made, by one of the greatest photographers that ever lived. 

"I think these are some of the best photographs ever made, by one of the greatest photographers that ever lived. "- sy

I feel exactly the same way.  I saw some of her work here in Budapest. Astoundingly good work. The woman was a tour de force of capturing images and time.

Sissy Stough's picture

She definitely had the gift of that special eye that some professionals work all their lives to develop. She truly was a gifted artist. I can't decide if her life story makes me sad or what,  I just wish she knew how much others loved her work. She obviously loved doing the work and my heart tells me that, that was probably enough for hopes

Lanskymob's picture

A second book of her photographs was published a few months ago.  Vivian Maier: Out Of The Shadows.  Fantastic book that also uncovered more of her biography than was ever known before. Here's an review from the Chicago Tribune  Full disclosure-I took the pic of the authors for the article. 

Lorenzo P's picture


View Minder's picture

I can't wait to check this one out! Rock on John!

Jennifer Venter's picture

I saw an exhibition of her work whilst in Chicago in 2012. I was blown away by her work - her eye was phenomenal and something I would like to aspire to. What a pity that it was only seen after she passed on but at least we are being given the opportunity to see it now. Her family can be very proud of her.

joel penland's picture


joel penland's picture

Her work is thought provoking and genius.