Maier took a vast collection of photographs over 50 years. A new film, Finding Vivian Maier, documents the man who pieced together the puzzle of her double life.
Vivian Maier, the American nanny who led a secret life as a photographer, has been the subject of a handful of books, at least onedocumentary, and countless exhibitions that have toured the world. During her life, Maier was so secretive about her work that even those closest to her never saw her photographs.
Families employed her to look after their children, but they seemed to know little about their nanny’s background, other than that she had a French accent and a penchant for oversized coats and men’s shirts, and she took a camera with her wherever she went.
Maier started taking photographs in 1949 and continued pretty much until she died, in 2009. Her first camera was a basic Kodak box Brownie. It is not known why she started taking pictures (it is known that her mother had a camera and that she and her mother boarded for a while in New York with a portrait photographer called Jeanne Bertrand, who was from the same village in France as Maier’s mother), but once she had her camera, she couldn’t stop.