Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vivian Maier

I was talking to someone today and for possibly the first time, I was asked why I love photography. Maybe it wasn't the first time but it was the first time I really thought about it. I responded, "I love photography because I get to control the outcome of something. I love that if I were given a camera and the person beside me were given the same camera and we were shooting the same thing, we would end up with two different images. Photography allows me to show people a piece of what I see, because it's always been hard for me to explain myself. I love photography because in the moment I'm taking a photo, I focus solely on what I want to capture and how I want to capture it. Nothing else matters. And looking at the end result? That's just a feeling you can't explain."

I was looking at Vivan Maier's work yesterday and since then, I've been drawn back to her photos numerous times. I can't stop viewing them. If you don't know the story of Vivan, please watch this video. It's absolutely incredible and I don't think there's any other story that I love more. Your first impression of Vivian will probably be that she was a little strange but clearly, her mind worked differently. She was so eager to photograph life -- real life -- and she did just that. Maybe it was that life was simply more exciting back then and that New York/Chicago had a lot going on but I like to believe there was more to it than that. I like to believe she saw moments that not everyone else was seeing. She didn't walk the streets to get to her next destination; she walked the streets, searching for art -- two people holding hands, a man sleeping in his car, a little boy with his face smashed against a window. Being able to capture those things and capture them in such a way that is artistic, is no easy task. Vivian captured expression, emotion, and I doubt she ever posed one person. She just knew where to find it and when to capture it. She had a gift for seeing life and knowing what was worth a slide on her roll of film. Photography was absolutely her way of expressing herself.

I'm no Vivian Maier but after really mulling over her work and story, I'm determined to see things differently. I want to have at least a handful of images (preferably black and white film) that someone can look at in fifty years and be excited about. Art is constantly changing, style is constantly changing, scenery is constantly changing, people are constantly changing. Many years from now, life is going to look different and I want to capture it so that someone can see the change.

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