How a mysterious Chicago nanny became one of the most important street photographers

Throughout history, many of the world’s greatest artists never achieved tremendous fame until after their death. That’s the case of Vivian Maier, who’s now considered to be one of the most important American street photographers of the last century, alongside famous names like Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson. But she remained unknown for much of her life, and it was only a chance encounter with a box of negatives that put her in the spotlight.

Untitled, Self-Portrait (Maloof Collection)
Vivian Maier, “Untitled, Self-Portrait” (Maloof Collection)

Details of her life are murky, but she was born in New York City in the 1920s to European parents. Maier grew up in France before returning to the U.S., where she spent several decades working as a nanny in Chicago to wealthy families. During her days off Maier is thought to have taken more than 100,000 photographs of people and city scenes in Chicago, yet she kept the photos to herself – many of them never developed.

Skip ahead to 2007, a Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, stumbles upon Maier’s work by accident after purchasing a box of tensof thousands of undeveloped negatives for $380 at an auction. As he developed them, Maloof realized they were more than just photos. He was looking at evocative art depicting a Chicago of the mid-20-century that nobody had never seen. Maloof worked to uncover who the photographer was, acquiring more and more of her work. But before he could locate her, Maier had already passed away in 2009, having slipped on ice and never recovering from her head injury.

While Maloof researched Maier’s work, more details emerged. She kept to herself, her employers said, and she would spend her free days taking photos on the streets of Chicago with a Rolleiflex camera. According to Maloof, the children Maier took care of knew she was constantly taking photos, yet she never showed her photos to anyone. Maier also traveled around the world, as indicated by some of her photos.

Other collectors began to acquire Maier’s photos, but Maloof owns much of her work. He released a book, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, in 2011, and his documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, came out this year.

(Via WebburgImages via Maloof Collection)

Product Review

With the Z7, Nikon gives DSLR holdouts the mirrorless wonder they've waited for

Nikon’s long awaited full-frame mirrorless cameras are here, and the Z7 is the new flagship model. But does it stand up to the company's DSLR pedigree, and, more importantly, does it have what it takes to compete with the likes of Sony?
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Photography

Flickr just expanded Pro tools — but free users may have to delete some photos

If you have more than 1,000 photos on a free Flickr account, you might want to decide which to delete . Flickr announced some changes following an acquisition by SmugMug, including a new way to calculate the free account storage limit.
Product Review

Rylo is the 360 camera that finally makes 360 video useful

The Rylo puts a new spin on 360 video by focusing on flat, fixed-frame output. It can’t quite replace your action camera or camcorder, but it shows a glimmer of what the future of consumer video could be.
Photography

Premiere Pro A.I. plug-in for Adobe paints your videos in the style of van Gogh

CyberLink is bringing its suite of artificial intelligence-based video effects directly to Adobe users as a plug-in for Premiere Pro. The A.I. Style video plug-in "redraws" video in the styles of artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.