Having made it through the frigid gift from Siberia, endured the added joy of deep snow, I decided to visit the local reservoir on the first day caressed by sunbeams.
I felt that I had neglected my pinhole cameras and this was the perfect opportunity to blow away some hibernation dust motes. Also it turned into a chance to try a new Rollei film (80S) for the first time. The snow melted as I made my images, but I just stood long enough on the tail end of winter to capture some.
They say spring is just around the corner. They have been known to be wrong………….
Susan photographed with the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens.
This photo has nothing to do with Vivian Maier, but this post does.
Who was Vivian Maier? Nobody really knows. She was born February 1st, 1926. She lived most of her life in Chicago, working as a nanny. She was a bit reclusive, never married nor had children. She died in 2009. She was an avid photographer. Some 100,000 of her negatives (many as undeveloped rolls of film) were purchased in 2007 by a fellow named John Maloof from an auction house after they had taken possession of them from a storage facility after Vivian had failed to make payments on the space.
Much of the haul is street photography, much of it Chicago from the decades of the 50’s through 70’s. The images, without question, are lovely. At some times warm and empathetic, at other times a bit more distant, but no less engaging. Her story is almost like a fairy tale in a way. Or a story of paradise lost (but doesn’t it all tend to become paradise once we have lost it?). Or maybe it is paradise found, at least that is how the world of photography is treating it, and I am not sure quite why. It is almost like we were hungering for something like a Vivian Maier. And it cannot just be the story of her obscurity, discovery and Mr. Maloof finally identifying her and tracking her down only to find she had died just days previously. There is a quality to the work that just isn’t easily found these days. Perhaps it is because of the subject matter. We are drawn by the notion of the good old days, even when that grass wasn’t as green as we always think it was.
I think her meteoric rise does have something to do with the story though. I think it strikes a chord in many of us photographers, the fable of toiling away at our art to be near-magically discovered one day. Or the belief that the work of our photographic lives will continue to carry meaning even once our mortal lives come to an end.
Or maybe it is that in this age where everyone is connected digitally, we can tweet, text, e-mail, facebook, tumble, digg, pin, and instamatic all our friendships down to a digital shadow of what connection once meant, maybe some of us photographers hunger to make work that touches audiences, moves them, connects them to us, in a way that Vivian’s work has done. Of course, it would seem that Vivian herself wasn’t interested in that connection. She never showed anyone her photography. She was a bit of a loner and a keep-your-distance type of woman. Without a doubt she had a voice to speak with, but it apparently carried no further than herself, her subject and her camera. Maybe Vivian never wanted that audience, or maybe she was all the audience she needed. Perhaps this is something to consider too, especially in comparison to today’s world where it is common practice to not only barrage your audience with dozens, if not hundreds of images at a time, but then to post the same stuff across Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, 500px, and every other social site to insure maximum saturation in this already saturated world of imagery.
Maybe the answer is there is no answer at all, just a bunch of questions to ponder and consider. I don’t even know how I feel about Vivian Maier. I love her images, but am uneasily uncertain about the story. Is its popularity just a combination of fad and sensationalism? Will we still care about her in five years or ten? How long, after all, can a photographer’s work survive their death? I don’t know the answer to this either. Nor do I care to need to know any of these answers.
Ultimately, what it all comes down to, as it often should, is that her photos move me, and that to me is reason enough.
Elvis was conscripted and quiff-cut by the same powers of deep self-loathing that energise Trump, Republicans, bonkers White Evangelicals, the cowards of the NRA and their Fox-brainwashed followers. May Elvis pish on them all from the broad plains of Heaven.
None on my wrist. I don’t wear them, and hate the way men use them as status symbols.
I have an internal clock that tells me what the time is. Don’t need a shiny piece of shrapnel on my wrist to remind me where, when or who I am.
I also hate watch adverts, bill boards, glossy magazine articles about watches. Unbelievable that these actually exist, but they do. They all push the same fake values of masculinity and shiny power. Poncey power toys for wanker boys.
I Rest My Case!
It’s not what you’ll possess
It’s how you will express
The essence of you
It’s not the wage you earn
It’s about the things you learn
And the love that you give
It’s not what you’ll conceal
It’s all that you’ll reveal
That will make you be you
The perfection of you
These images happened at around 06.00 in the morning on a snowy outing. I made two images of these trees. The first I exposed per my usual formula for challenging lighting conditions: using f11 and a 400 film with only the shutter speed varying. In this case, the shutter speed was about 5 seconds. And then to do a little experimenting I decided to flood the frame with some light and thus I made a second exposure, adding a ND Filter at f11 and ISO 400 but for about 2 minutes. I wanted to really overexpose the scene and render it much brighter under the unique ambient light that occurs on heavily overcast snowy days.
It’s not the years you pass
It’s about the moments that last
Forever in you
Changing ways, changing those surrounding you
Changing your ways, more than any man can do
Open your heart, show him the anger and pain, so you heal
Maybe he’s looking for his womanly side, let him feel
It’s your day, a woman’s day
When Siberia came a calling
Ashes in the snow