Photos Taken By The Mysterious Nanny-Photographer Of The Mid-Century

Vivian Maier was a nanny for over 40 years in Chicago. Little did anyone know that she had a secret passion for photography, and spent years (and hundreds of thousands of photographs) documenting streetscapes from the 1940s up through the 1970s. She had a natural ability to capture American life and moments (although she did take photos abroad as well), many of which offer a telling look into vintage New York or vintage Chicago.

Her work was only unearthed randomly by a real estate agent/historian in 2007, two years before her death. The discovery of Maier’s enormous body of work has now placed her as one of the best street photographers of the mid-century.

Here’s the story of a random guy who won an auctioned-off trunk, and what he found inside was pure gold — tons of photo negatives and rolls of film:

The following is a selection of beautiful, telling, and haunting photographs. Enjoy!

1. A carriage ride in NYC in 1953


carriage ride nyc

2. A couple smokes together in Milwaukee, WI


couple smokes together milwaukee

3. Waiting outside a theater in Chicago


waiting outside theater chicago

4. Chicago in the 1950s


4 chicago in the 1950s - photos taken by the mysterious nanny-photographer of the mid-century

5. Children in a doorway in Canada


children doorway canada

6. A woman and a man in an uncomfortable-looking interaction in Chicago


woman man uncomfortable looking interaction chicago

7. A voyeuristic shot of a young woman outside the New York Public Library


voyeuristic shot young woman outside york public library

8. Maier captures two kids on the street in Chicago


maier captures two kids street chicago

9. A group poses in Manhattan in 1954


group poses manhattan

10. A haunting selfie Maier took in New York in 1954


haunting selfie maier took york

11. New York hair, 1954


york hair

12. Kids playing in a fire hydrant in NYC in the summer of 1954


kids playing fire hydrant nyc summer

13. A window shopper in New York in 1954


window shopper york

14. New York in 1955


14 new york in 1955 - photos taken by the mysterious nanny-photographer of the mid-century

15. Maier captures a woman on a pay phone in 1960


maier captures woman pay phone

16. Sailors in 1961


16 sailors in 1961 - photos taken by the mysterious nanny-photographer of the mid-century

17. Maier captures herself in a mirror somewhere in Chicago, 1971


maier captures herself mirror somewhere chicago

18. Another self-portrait in 1971


another portrait


  • Linas
  • December 23, 2013, 3:44 pm
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