You Take My Breath Away – Be Prepared to Be Inspired

These photographs took my breath away. The photographer was Vivian Maier, and she lived in Chicago, Illinois. She died at the age of 83, just a few days before the man who discovered the photographs located her through her very own obituary.

Photography was not her career. It was her passion. She was a nanny who liked to take pictures. She just did it for herself. I wonder if she if had any idea how amazingly talented she was and what a gift she had? Did she know that one day she would end up in a book just like the ones she read of famous photographers?

I somehow don’t think so.

It is overwhelming to see her amazing work and realize that she did this completely for herself. She did not do it for the money or the fame. Was she just so compelled by what she saw that she had to capture it? Judging by the books that were found in her things, she obviously appreciated the art. Did she not have any idea how good her work was? Or did she, but perhaps did not want to taint it? And then I think the biggest question on my mind was how did these end up out of her possession before her death?

John Maloof who purchased her photographs from an auction said the following of how he came upon this amazing find:

I acquired Vivian’s negatives while at a furniture and antique auction. From what I know, the auction house acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments. I didn’t know what ‘street photography’ was when I purchased them.

I cannot even imagine. He said that many were not even developed. Most others appeared to be in negative form. It makes me wonder if she even had the resources to print them.

Thanks so much for sharing this, fstoppers. Absolutely amazing. And a big thank you to John Maloof – The man who discovered Vivian Maier’s photographs. Thank you to my good friend Dallas Photographer, Debra Klawetter, for bringing this to my attention!

I cannot wait for the book and the documentary. Seriously. Cannot. Wait.

I feel inspired. Inspired to take my camera and head to the street. And to take pictures from my heart, not my head.

What an inspiration these images are. I just cannot stop thinking about them. Have you ever had something move you like that?

Simply Topaz

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." –Maya Angelou


  1. Oh my goodness, this is so amazing, I am having trouble even gathering my thoughts and wiping away some tears. I am absolutely non-talented…I can’t paint, sing, act or whatever; but, I get so emotional seeing this kind of talent that it’s hard to say anything.

    I know you are a photographer and this must be like nirvana for you and I am so happy that you shared it with us.


    Topaz Reply:

    I know, Lou. It was completely overwhelming for me, too. I cannot stop thinking about the images in the video.

    You are right, being a photographer, this is total nirvana for me. They took my breath away. I am so thankful that he found these images and realized what he had in his possession when he began viewing the photographs. These are just too amazing not to share with the rest of the world.

    Thanks so much, Lou, for stopping by and commenting.


  2. What an amazing story, and the photos are breathtaking– true works of art. I love what you said about how she did this for herself. I think true art– the stuff that really speaks to us, comes from that deep inner place. I have a Canon Rebel on my wish list. I want to learn to take photos to document this wonderful time in my life, and it’s probably the first thing that I would consider an actual hobby… something I want to do just for fun!


    Topaz Reply:

    “I think true art– the stuff that really speaks to us, comes from that deep inner place.”

    You are so right, Angie! I have always said that a photographer’s work is more of a reflection of who they are than who the subjects are. While a photographer can capture a moment, the way she sees it is all her/him. My son says for it to be a good picture, it has to move you. He is so right.

    And as photographers, we almost “need” to take pictures. It helps us to see and process. And to be a truly moving image, the photographer must see the subject with her heart, not her head.

    Oh, how fun, Angie! You will love it! That was actually my first digital SLR. You should definitely call me, twitter or facebook me when you do, and we can go shoot for fun!


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