Film Review: Finding Vivian Maier

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Finding Vivian Maier

The few times I’ve attempted street photography have gone okay. Not spectacular failures, but I always miss that something that makes street photography what it is – capturing real emotion and seeing what the every day passerby doesn’t see. That takes some amount of time, patience and an intuition about people.

Vivian Maier was one of the most prolific street photographers, ever. She took thousands of photos. Thousands. But she wasn’t a photographer or a journalist. She was a nanny. Who apparently enjoyed photography very much.

Finding Vivian Maier

One of Vivian Maier’s thousands of astounding photos.

Finding Vivian Maier brings her photos to the front. John Maloof is the one bringing her story to life. Investigating a very mysterious and secretive woman who was loved very dearly by the families whose children she looked after.

Not to the same extent of The Imposter, but Finding Vivian Maier is similar – it’s one of those documentaries where you have to see the story unfold for yourself. Finding Vivian Maier was oddly emotional. A lot of the film just made me sad. Coupled with a touch of anger. Despite being surrounded by families and people, she never let anyone in enough for her to be really understood. I shed a good few tears over Vivian.

Finding Vivian Maier

For someone who was never probably really understood or known very well by those around her, Vivian Maier, certainly had a way of understanding and capturing a side of human nature in her photos. While Finding Vivian Maier isn’t a breakthrough documentary in how the story is told, but the story itself is so compelling and interesting. And if you’ve got a modicum of interest in photography, you should definitely check it out.


  1. Her photos are just gorgeous! I’m a little afraid to do street photography, myself. I just haven’t worked up the nerve to photograph people I don’t know in a way that they would probably definitely acknowledge. One day, maybe!

    • I’ve only ever done it incognito. Either shooting from the hip or far away. Never had the courage to ask someone for a photo. Like you, I’m terrified at what they’d say or do!

  2. I also thought Finding Vivian Maier was an interesting watch, both the photography and the eccentric person who took them.

    • Yes, and it was an interesting look at Vivian Maier. Unlike a lot of biographical documentaries, I felt like it was done in a very objective sort of way.

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