Vivian Maier, a Street Photographer essay sample

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Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier was an American of French and Austro-Hungarian descent and a street photographer born in New York City in the late 1920s. Most of her works date back from the 1950s to 1990s. She had a passion and pure love for documentary and capturing the life itself, showing the moments of happiness, joy or simple moments that we all know too well, yet struggle to catch them in the hustle and bustle of our living. On the picture titled "New York, NY" we can see an upper-class woman, judging by her makeup and expensive jewelry, and the famous New York Public library on the background. The shot is black and white as it was made in between 1951 and 1956 with a Rolleiflex camera. The composition is quite simple, but at the same time unique and eye-catching thanks to the "layering". At the very bottom of the picture there a blurred line, meaning that the a small part of the camera lens was placed in front of an object in order to create an illusion of peaking out. In the front we see a woman, who is looking on her left.

She doesn't seem to be looking at another person or at something of a significant importance as her face expression is relaxed and unagitated. Maybe she is examining the view of the street or checking out windows of surrounding ships. Finally on the background we see the NY public library facade of the main entrance and passers-by, which creates an atmosphere of a busy urban life of a megalopolis. The most interesting aspect about the picture is that the main object here is in the woman in front - her image is clear and in focus, however the slightly blurred background occupies the biggest part of the entire picture. Maier used the same trick in others pictures, when the main subject that seemed to always draw the attention, was placed in the lower and relatively smaller part of the whole composition.Taking into account Maier's love for documentary, it is safe to say that the construction of this shot was not well-thought out, although it appears that way. Street photography requires not only a good eye to notice little moments that are so quick to pass and disappear in the past, but also high reflexes and excellent photography skills as a photography needs to evaluate the lightening, set the camera and compose a picture in a split of seconds. The main point is to not only capture the moment and take the shot, but to make it interesting, well-composed and unique as well. The picture clearly includes all of those aspects, demonstrating a real life in action caught up on the film.

Although the picture is masterfully composed and stands out from the others, there are a couple of debatable drawbacks. As it was mentioned above the main object of the shot is the woman and according to rules of photography, if the woman is …

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