Book Impressions #4 – Eye to Eye

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General Impression:

I was not familiar with Vivian Maier prior to this book. She was evicted from her apartment as a senior and was in financial difficulty in old age. In 2007, Maier failed to keep up payments on storage space she had rented. As a result, the contents were auctioned for very little. The collectors eventually published the photos and Maier was discovered posthumously. Her work has appeared in gallery exhibitions, several books, and documentary films.

These photographs she had only taken for herself.  She had traveled to many places including France, Italy, Malaysia, Yemen, Puerto Rico, and America, and her life-long career was primarily that of a Nanny.

There is little to no dialogue within this book; the photos do the speaking. The subjects are a mystery. This book focuses on her portraiture work.

The Photographs:

The portraits are very intimate, with the subject generally staring at the camera intensely. Hence, the title of the book, “Eye to Eye.”

There are some photos that resemble snapshots and are not interestingly composed. However, there are so many gems within this book, that it far exceeds other books I’ve read within this genre. There are plenty of portraits with intense emotion and I find that the mystery of who these people are or where they might be located to be part of the draw. It is like looking at ghosts of the past. I like the mystery. I like to imagine scenarios to question why they are so emotional and staring so intently?

Final Verdict:

I am not a fan of this type of genre of photography typically. I often find that books like these have only a handful of emotional moments that resonate with me. However, this book is now the gold standard to which I compare street portraiture photography. It is exceptional. You can check out more of her work at Vivian Maier.

This situation also brings to question whether it is right to share work that she may have taken only for herself? As well as is it morally right to share and profit from this work?

You can buy the book using the links below (Please note this book may be out of print and you may be better off buying used):

Buy In The United States

Buy In Canada



* Please note that the above photos aren’t from the book; but rather the website.

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