Exhibition Review – Crossing Paths With Vivian Maier

It is always very special to see real prints framed, and hanging in a gallery. Anyone interested in photography should pop along to see this wonderful exhibition.

The exhibition is a well thought out selection of Maier’s images. All my favourites appeared to be on show – I cannot recall a particular image of importance missing.

The exhibition details are here.

Sitting in the gallery thinking about her photography reminded me of a few things…

  • Timing is everything. Many of the best images were a directly attributable to Maier hitting the shutter at the right moment.
  • Perspective can change an ordinary setting into something interesting.
  • Move closer to your subject.
  • Find a new way to show something ordinary.
  • Self portraits are a challenge worthy of an investment of time.
  • Make as many opportunities for photography as possible.
  • A lifetime of photography might only yield twenty or thirty timeless images,  and only then if you are lucky and incredibly talented!
  • Square format is a composition shape that is aesthetically pleasing.

The overall exhibition has a theme of local artists “responding” to Maier’s work. Luckily, Maier’s framed prints are in the main gallery, mostly uncluttered by competing works. I am not sure why the CCP felt the need to add unnecessary distraction to such an impressive exhibition?

The additional works rest in a very dark shadow cast by Maier’s masterful images. In particular, I was very confused by the CCP having some kind of looping performance art video that was kinda silly. It also came complete with scratching sound effects which was just plain annoying. I am at a complete loss in understanding how a 20 second looping video fits with an analogue photography exhibition of street images?

Despite my general grumpiness around the additional “curation”, I intend to return to the exhibition before it finishes up on the 26th October. The printed images are worth it!

I tried my hand at some self portraits in honour of Maier at the Gallery… It is harder than it looks!


2 Responses to “Exhibition Review – Crossing Paths With Vivian Maier”

  1. self portraits are extraordinarily hard if they are to be “real” portraits. I was going to go to the opening and talk but decided I just want to see Maier’s work. I was thinking about the square format too. The manual for my new camera says it does that, but not sure how it works..which means I should look it up I guess haha. It is an interesting challenge composition wise…also of curse we are more used to looking at the rectangular frame. but I like the square sometimes. Hope to get to the exhibition this week


  2. I have tried taking photos in Vivians Rolleiflex Automat style using my Lumix FZ1000 camera. I set the camera to square format and use the LCD foldout viewfinder with the camera at chest height, fix the focal length to 75mm (35mm equivalent), set the aperture to 3.5, turn off auto focus, and post process the images in Adobe Lightroom using a Kodak Plus-X preset. What I have found so far is the difficulty in framing well and getting a good composition with this focal length. She became very adept at it, no doubt taking ten of thousands of shots in the first few years to hone her style. I would love to get my hands on a top down viewfinder camera such as the Rolleiflex


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