Vivian Maier (1926-2009) is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. She began taking photographs in 1949, but rather than trying to parlay her skill into a career in photography, she became a nanny in the 1950s, first in New York and then in Chicago, her chosen profession for about 40 years. Maier continued to photograph street scenes, self-portraits, and more (her collected works number over 150,000), often dragging the children in her care with her as she sought out new spots to take pictures. Financial problems in the early 1970s left her unable to develop her own film, and she gave up photography altogether sometime in the late 1990s. By this time she had amassed a huge collection of photographs and undeveloped film which she kept in storage as she veered between homelessness and living in a studio apartment provided by her former charges. In 2007, one of her storage lockers was auctioned off for delinquent payments, and many of her negatives were bought by John Maloof, a Chicago historian and collector, who brought her photographs to light. Sadly, Maloof was only able to track down Meier after her obituary was published.
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