Vivian Maier: an extraordinary but unknown street photographer

You won’t be able to find out a lot about Vivian Maier. She is not a famous photographer, and not even a single photo that she took was published during her lifetime.

In 2007, local historian John Maloof purchased a box loaded with Vivian Maier’s negatives from a Chicago auction house. At first he didn’t even know how valuable his purchase was. But when Maloof saw the pictures, which were taken in the 1960s and 1970s, he gasped. They were marvelous!

When the photos went viral in 2009, thousands of people shared Maloof’s fascination. He received more than 200 offers to make a film about Maier’s life.

Today, we at LikeAble decided to share the story of this wonderful woman with you, as an act of appreciation and remembrance.


Throughout her life, Vivian was constantly taking pictures that she didn’t show to anyone. She used more than 200 negatives per year and printed pictures in her own room that she made into a studio.


Vivian never used her hobby to make money. Moreover, her acquaintances didn’t even know that she was a passionate photographer. Only after she died did the pictures go public.


Vivian spent most of her life living in Chicago and working as a nanny. During her free time, she walked the streets with a camera in her hands. Maier’s photographs vividly depict American culture in the 1950s.


She used to wear men’s pants and shoes and a hat with a wide brim. The children she nannied described her as «a socialist, a feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person.»



Maier’s life story makes us wonder if it is important to strive for fame and success. Maybe true art doesn’t require any external evaluation. Perhaps everything should be created without the overwhelming desire to garner someone’s attention or make it into history.

Today, experts rank Maier’s work among other famous street photographers of the 20th century. For a long time, no one knew about her work, and it remains unclear whether she was aware of her own success before she passed away.