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Monday, 15 October 2012


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I have both books (think I got this one through your site link to Amazon) and agree that this second one is very good and gives a very interesting insight into the person of Vivian Maier. It also raises as many questions as it answers, but that may be a mark of a good work.

The early contact sheet style pictures were not (I understand from the book), shot on 35mm as you say, but using a box camera that took 8 exposures on 120 film. My own aunt had such a camera for many years. According to the book, Maier only got round to using 35mm (Ektachrome) during in her late years. It will be very interesting to see some of this color work when it emerges.

First, thanks for bringing this book to my attention -- I anxiously await its arrival from Amazon.

But I find this to be a rather curious review, in a way, in that it seems to imply criticisms of the previous book, "Vivian Maier: Street Photographer", without ever actually mentioning it aside from the two images of the books side-by-side. Did Ken find the format and printing of "Street Photographer" lacking?

The remark that Maier "wasn't trying to make art" is also questionable. I doubt we know what Maier was trying to do (did she ever say?), and even if she wasn't "trying" to make art, she wouldn't be the first to succeed in making art without intending to. Eugene Atget and Karl Blossfeldt come to mind in this regard. I'm certainly in favor of printing Maier's work without "artificial sweeteners", but again, is Ken's remark about this intended as a slap at "Street Photographer"?

Can one assume that there is zero overlap between the images from this Jeffrey Goldstein collection and those from the John Maloof collection that fed 'Vivian Maier - Street Photographer'? I also know of at least one more collection ('thousands' of negatives belonging to a Ron Slattery), so there is opportunity for a full third chapter, maybe 'Vivian Maier III - The Lost Photographer's Really Really Lost Photos'. Jesting aside, I like her work (in addition to her story) an awful lot, and welcome this and all future monographs.

Distributing these photos on dead tree books seems wasteful.

A DVD with all of her photos, organized in a way in which its easy to search through them, would be so much more useful.

Ordered using your link. I have been following her story once it surfaced and am particularly interested since I am from the Chicagoland burbs.

@ Peter: Thank you for the box camera note. I apparently missed that citation.

@ Craig: "...is Ken's remark about this intended as a slap at "Street Photographer?"

Yes, it is.

@ No dead trees: What, for instance, would you "search" for?

Software books should not be printed on paper. Novels should not be printed on paper. Self-help books should not be printed on paper. Distionaries should not be printed on paper. Books of such excellent and mysterious photography should be printed with the finest papers and ink available, and presented in an ordered structure that helps readers better understand the photographer.

I fully agree with Ken's commentary. I have both books and am very glad that I have them. They are a window on a world that no longer exists. I have childhood memories of these years and these images really speak to me.

I too will be interested in seeing Vivian's Ektachrome images if they are published.

If you have not purchased this latest Maier book... do it.

Best Wshes !

Well, I was hoping this would not be released until after Christmas, but since it has been, I have been forced to order it. Had it been on a DVD, I could have avoided it for I try to not to buy obsolete/soon to be obsolete technology.

It's an excellent photo book, probably my current favorite for pure visual pleasure, and the biographical details are interesting to read too. Judging from the sample 12-shot contact sheet they printed at the beginning of the book (from her medium format camera), her "keeper rate" was quite high, and we should see many more books.

A deluxe clamshell edition of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows is available directly through the Jeffrey Goldstein Collection.

This limited edition version of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows (CityFiles Press) contains a silver gelatin print of Maier’s work and a signed copy of the book. The print and book are enclosed in a custom, cloth clamshell box handcrafted with a silver-embossed impression of Vivian Maier’s signature.


Look forward to this edition- had no idea that Mr. Golstein had this many images in his possession! You can bet there will be a second Maloof edition, perhaps when her documentary comes out. Then comes the ultimate compilation when they both (all three?) combine their collections a few years down the line...

It's very gratifying to see she is getting more respect biographically speaking... I was afraid she was going to be "Disfarmered".... dismissed as a kook and a loner, just because it was hard to find out anything about her.

I would say all of the wood used to create books such as this were grown for the express purpose of making paper.
Quite often areas that are barren are planted with trees so in fact this does not harm the enviroment.
I shoot for one of the biggest paper companies and have been lucky to see the inner workings of paper creation.
In South Africa the paper companies sponsor the growth of timber on tribal land , and remember this is land sitting fallow and quite often unsuitable for anything else. This creates work for people in areas that have nothing.
Knowing all of this i see no harm in buying paper books at all.

@Harry Lime...

..which just emphasizes that one should make prints, regardless if film or digital. Maloof and Goldstein have roughly 4,000 Maier prints in their collections, along the trove of negatives and slides.

Kenneth, he'd search presumably for tags, reflecting the modern conceit that Search is King, Tags and Keywords his Princes and Knights - and context and structure sops for the weak and outdated.

@ No Dead Trees...

I think the disconnect between what you suggest and others is that the physical book, and the prints that it contains, are for many people a part of the art work; And consequently, a DVD of the photos is not the same work. It's not just about the image, it's also about the presentation.

That's why people care not only whether or not photos are in a book, but how well they are printed, and how the presentation is chosen.

To a lot of folks, saying that the photos should be on a DVD, is to some extent the same as saying that you should get a DVD of Monet or Picasso rather than seeing the actual paintings in a museum.


Can one use photo offset "film" as archival material for digital images like negatives?

One can then "pre-publish" one's digital photos without actually going through a limited print run. Captions or notes (exif data) may be included as "type."

This ought to be cheaper than self-publishing as one would be dealing directly with the (non-digital) offset printers, assuming they will accept a partial "pre-print" job order.

Every time (OK, twice) someone notes that I'm reading the "dead tree edition" of the NYT over coffee, I point out they're reading the "dead river edition" on their Ipad.

Interesting point about the paper book - it will still be readable in thirty years, while the DVD will be obsolete. How many people do you know who have a way of reading eight-inch floppy disks these days?

These guys really stepped in it finding this ultra unique treasure trove of photographic history. They probably stand to make some money out of it when all is said and done, but thus far, it seems they have certainly earned some measure of compensation for all the time and effort they have invested, and then some.

Sure, it would have been great if any and all compensatory rewards had gone directly to the artist herself, but thank the photographic gods that someone at least rescued her legacy- and that that someone had the wherewithal to respect, preserve and share that legacy with all of us. These guys (at least Mr. Maloof- not that familiar with Mr. Goldstein's story) had to get themselves one quick and harried education in the history, art and business of photography- I remember when Mr. Maloof was seeking out advice on Flickr! And I'm sure they had to navigate through more than one shark in the water hovering around to somehow relieve them of at least some part of their most fortunate acquisition (not to mention a snide critic or two).

Hats off to a job well done (and this from someone who's not a fan of Vivian Maier: Street Photographer)- I'm sure there will be better offerings down the line, of which Out Of The Shadows is but the first. And I sure can't wait for that documentary.

All told, I do envy their luck- I'm sure it's been one helluva an adventure, as well as one very frustrating and exasperating journey. Don't know if I could have done as well.

Without a doubt, one of the best and only posthumously discovered street photographers of all times. She seemed to have an intuitive sense of composing and shooting on the fly, much as Henti Cartier-Bresson did. She was eccentric and socially awkward. Yet, she was a keen social observer.

I have been collecting every book that comes out with her photographs. She was able to photograph as she did mostly because she stayed anonymous, I think. Cartier-Bresson shunned having his picture taken as much as possible in order to walk anonymously. I am curious as to the contents of all her exposed and undeveloped rolls of film. Unseen treasures await us all.

I have the first book ("Vivan Maier Street Photographer") and I really enjoy looking through it. But I wish there was more information regarding the locations, although I can understand why it might be a mystery for many of them.

I've noticed that it's rare to find any information about her trips to Canada (Quebec, specifically). There's a photo in the first book from Quebec City, probably in 1955, that I did some digging into to find the location, and I was able to pinpoint it exactly. It turns out it was taken in the neighbourhood where my wife grew up. I wrote about my investigation and finding here:

My eagle-eyed spouse spotted another Quebec City photo online, on the "official" site of the Maloof collection. It was probably taken during the same trip. I was able to locate the exact location of that one too:


I would be great to start a project that "crowd sourced" this kind of research. Not everyone cares about where or when the photographs were made, but some people do, and it adds value to the collections in terms of the archives of the various cities where she worked.

@ Sarge
>Can one use photo offset "film" as archival material for digital images like negatives?

Yes. You can send a digital file to a ultra high resolution LVT recorder. The image is shot to 4x5 or 8x10 TMAX100.

You could do a R,G,B separation to archive color files.

I believe this is what Salagado is doing with select files from his current nature project, although I think he is primarily doing this so his darkroom printer can continue to print his work.

I have heard of other high end photographers archiving their most important shots this way.

@ Ken
But the immortality insurance policy is cheap and easy: print the images you want to survive you.

Absolutely. From what I know the prints of many well known images have long survived their negatives. You just need to make sure you're making an archival print. The other advantage to a print is that it leaves a record of how the photographer intended the image to look in its final form. If you made a straight print from one of Ansel Adam's negatives, it would most likely look nothing like one of his originals with all of the intricate dodging, burning etc.

But looking at it from a historical perspective, nothing beats having the negatives. I love looking at contact sheets. Among the 36 shots you will find the one shot everyone knows, but the other 35 are like a glimpse behind the scenes. People and places are revealed that were not meant to be seen. People are shown in unguarded moments. Poorly framed, but there they are, warts and all. It's almost as if you were given a glimpse of the action happening off camera. In hindsight some of these shots can turn out to be historically significant or provide additional information about a person, place or event. I sure wouldn't mind seeing the 'failed' takes of a Lincoln portrait session.

Ken: would you mind explaining what kinds of challenges have you faced with preserving digital files? I just can't see why a cheap server with a RAID6 setup, some sort of disk monitoring software and an off-site backup somewhere else in the continent would not be preferable to the problems museums face with delicate one-of-a-kind pieces already. Cheap, perfect copies indistinguishable from the original at the touch of one's finger, isn't that an archivist's wet dream?

With that said, though, the problem of Vivian Maier in the digital age was that she wasn't much interested in having her work be seen; otherwise, chances are instead of a hard-drive in a dumpster there would've been multiple copies of it lurking somewhere in Flickr HQ, as well as in the computers of every one of her fans. As Linus Torvalds famously said, only wimps make backups; real men upload their stuff to the Internet and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)

The thumbnail images of books being promoted are too small to be read.

Not sure mike about y have to do more than clicking. That is what one guy did who start the street photography.

She is good even though just click.

Regarding digital archiving, it is my understanding that many digitally shot and edited theatrical releases are archived by "printing" to cine film. Part of the reason is because it's cheaper (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/business/media/23steal.html?pagewanted=all).

Daniel - The only problem, I believe, with digital storage is the amount of redundancy and maintenance it takes. You can't lock it in a vault and have things preserved; They have to be actively monitored and refreshed.

This is true in the short term with things like RAIDs, multi-site backup, and checksum/disk checks. In the long term you're talking about the expense of keeping up with storage formats for both hardware and software, and the ever changing nature of those. The RAID of today is likely to be completely different that storage 20 years from now. It's potentially a huge expense and lots of work over a long time.

If not completely invented the take-home-lesson of the Vivian Maier story goes directly to the heart of the average overlooked amateur photographer: Work hard and even if you remain irrelevant in your lifetime by chance you may still become world-famous.

In response to pro-paper comments:

1. Vivien Maier didn’t create the books herself, they are being created by curators, so the book format is not part of her artistic vision.

2. Books are expensive to print, which limits the number of her photos that you can see. I’d rather see the whole collection rather than just a few dozen.

3. Books are great if you have a big house with a room dedicated to being a library, but I have no room for any more of them in my small apartment.

4. People have high-resolution monitors. And books are printed using an offset printing halftone so they are not true photographs.

@ Daniel S: I have not faced any challenges in preserving my digital image files (beyond storage capacity expansion).

But the long-term (100+ year) issues of storing anything in a purely digital form are far, far more daunting than preserving and conserving prints.

This is a topic outside the scope of this article, but you need to think in longer --much, much longer-- terms to really understand the issue.

Well, gotta go now. I think I've found someone who can get my 1990's images off my diskettes!

Now if I could only find someone to get the notes off my Apple Newton Messagepad...

I don't say it lightly: I think she was the greatest photographer of the 20th century. I have the first book and also saw the This American Life segment (from the live show which sadly does not appear to be available online). It appears that her work is remarkably consistent, and amazing. I don't think there's anyone is more consistently on than she was. Perhaps it's because (as the TAL segment pointed out) she didn't ever intend any of this to be shown, and might actually have been angry about the fact that it is now so popular, that makes the work so incredibly strong. I think she's an equal of Cartier Bresson, Capa and just about anyone else.

@Daniel S. While I really like the Linus Torvalds' quote you shared (and think it's kind of neat), I, for one, get so much pleasure out of holding a print that I just never get from seeing anything on my computer display. You can't beat the tactile experience -- and a fine book is the next best thing!

It's clear that no one has a clue as to her intentions vis. negatives unprinted and rolls of film undeveloped.

Well, as noted in a comment on another current topic here at TOP, "exhibition printing is expensive." Given her budget, film was first priority, developing film was second priority, and printing came last.

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