Vivian Maier – Composition Tips Part Two

I have spent some more time now with Vivian Maier through the book “Street Photography”. As you tell by all the tabs, I love a lot of her photos!

Maier is a fascinating person in her own right, but I am sure you can googlify her to read more.

There are plenty of things you can learn from consciously studying her body of work. Here are some of the things I have picked up…

Spot reflective surfaces, frames, and windows to include in compositions.

Maier appears to have a led a solitary life, disconnected to others in her spare time. Whilst she worked as a Nanny there are few cues to suggest she was a social person outside of her work responsibilities. Maybe this is how people who wish to profit from her work now like to portray her? Not sure.

Her wonderful self portraits are both moving and cleverly composed at the same time. There are many featured self portraits – starting with the cover of the book itself. Whilst I am not personally pursuing self portraits as a creative avenue, her use of a wide range of reflective surfaces, frames, and windows inspires me to have a crack at incorporating these into my own street images.

The first two images combine reflective surfaces with framing to create very striking images. Maier is not afraid to bare herself in the images as she appears in every day life. There is no pretense to the images. They are just her out with her camera. Both images offer some ideas for street photography outside of self portraiture.

The third image is an iconic Maier image. Great use of shadows, reflection, and the TLR. Holding the camera at waist level and being able to look directly into the reflection creates a strong feel for the person you might imagine her to be. I only include it because it is such a great self portrait – simple but unforgettable.

The fourth image is a spectacular combination of persistance, patience, and the ability to spot an opportunity and set up for it in time for it to happen! Maier’s work shows an uncanny ability to see into the future – to spot an opportunity and take the shot as the moment happens. I can’t imagine the workmen stopped for very long, if at all, for her to compose. The angled mirror presenting her reflected image in the composition is masterful.

Click here to read part one.

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