Film: "Finding Vivian Maier"

Started Jul 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
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dmartin92 Senior Member • Posts: 1,777
Film: "Finding Vivian Maier"

Today I went to see this film:

The film was better than I expected. I was afraid that it was going to be a very upbeat film documentary about what was, in some ways, probably a sad life. Or less than super happy. Just from looking at her self portrait images, I had doubts about how happy she was, but the film, in my opinion, addresses well these sort of issues. It doesn't try to present the entire story as great news.

But the film, or at least the subject of Vivian Maier, brings to mind lots of other interesting topics, in my opinion.

For one thing in forums like this, you'll often hear, "equipment doesn't matter", but I think the Vivian Maier story shows the opposite. At least a little bit. She did have at least some talent, maybe quite a lot, but she was also using great, medium format, tools. I think some of the images she has are great, in part, because the good equipment she had really delivered very good results, because ... it was good equipment. If you start looking at a lot of her images, you can see that.

Her talent, working together, in conjunction, with great tools. If she didn't have good talent, or if she was using a 35mm camera, I think less fuss would be made about her work.

But it's funny too how fame in photography works. As photography is, in part, a sort of art done by mechanical devices, it's not really like writing or painting. To write something well, it can't be done by an idiot, but there's always the chance an idiot will get lucky in photography, and thanks to the subject, record a great image when they press the button.

There are artistic things you can do at the moment of image capture, and even later (like cropping), but still, a big chunk of the work is being done by a mechanical device.

For art galleries, this makes life complicated. The Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate gallery, they at first refused to look seriously at Vivian Maier's work, but in the end, these sort of organizations, even if they are nonprofit, they are looking to sell tickets. If the public decides they love Vivian Maier's work, the art galleries will proudly put together an exhibit, eventually, and hence, say her work is good.

Time can work to an artist's advantage too. Photos of the world we are looking at today, they often don't seem so interesting, but black and white photos from the 1960s, that's starting to look interesting.

Even better if they are super sharp images from a medium format camera. Shot by somebody with some solid level of talent, which Vivian Maier had.

And then too, good photography is a lot of work. And Miss Maier was out there, wearing out her shoes walking around cities, doing the work. And she found the images. If you are willing to push yourself like that, and if you have some talent, and good equipment, it can be done. It may not be that much fun, and you might not be living a happy life if that's what you're doing, but it can be done.

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