Vivian Maier was a nanny for over 40 years in Chicago. Little did anyone know that she had a secret passion for photography, and spent years (and hundreds of thousands of photographs) documenting streetscapes from the 1940s up through the 1970s. She had a natural ability to capture American life and moments (although she did take photos abroad as well), many of which offer a telling look into vintage New York or vintage Chicago.
Her work was only unearthed randomly by a real estate agent/historian in 2007, two years before her death. The discovery of Maier’s enormous body of work has now placed her as one of the best street photographers of the mid-century.
1. A carriage ride in NYC in 1953.
2. A couple smokes together in Milwaukee, WI.
3. Waiting outside a theater in Chicago.
5. Children in a doorway in Canada.
6. A woman and a man in an uncomfortable-looking interaction in Chicago.
7. A voyeuristic shot of a young woman outside the New York Public Library.
8. Maier captures two kids on the street in Chicago.
9. A group poses in Manhattan in 1954.
10. A haunting selfie Maier took in New York in 1954.
12. Kids playing in a fire hydrant in NYC in the summer of 1954.
13. A window shopper in New York in 1954.
15. Maier captures a woman on a pay phone in 1960.
17. Maier captures herself in a mirror somewhere in Chicago, 1971.
18. Another self-portrait in 1971.