Podcast: The many worlds of street photographer Vivian Maier

Scholar Pamela Bannos gives a September 29 talk on the “nanny photographer” at 702WI.

Scholar Pamela Bannos gives a September 29 talk on the “nanny photographer” at 702WI. (Photo: Portrait of 32-year-old Vivian Maier in Highland Park, Illinois, taken in 1958 with her camera. Image from the Ron Slattery negative collection.)

Vivian Maier was a street photographer in the latter half of the 20th century, capturing intricacies of daily life at a time when camera culture and street photography was on the rise. Though Maier was extremely prolific as a photographer, she worked professionally as a nanny, often carrying several cameras around while she was working. A private person, she was largely unknown and undiscovered during most of her lifetime, but beginning close to her death in 2009, her archive was picked up by collectors in Chicago and her work quickly scattered online. Since that time, her work has reached critical acclaim and been exhibited around the world. The 2013 documentary film Finding Vivian Maier generated even more interest in her work.


Pamela Bannos.

Pamela Bannos.

This week Tone Madison contributor Chali Pittman spoke with Pamela Bannos, Professor of Photography at Northwestern University. Bannos became interested in Maier’s life and work after a local public television station asked her to comment on the photographer’s work, and the culmination of her research was published in the book Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life And Afterlife (University of Chicago Press, 2017). While the book is a biography of photographer, it also gives context for the cultural change in photography through the decades and chronicles the unusual, accidental way that Vivian Maier’s photographs reached the public.

Pamela Bannos will be in Madison on September 29, giving a book talk at 702WI, located at 702 E. Johnson St. A paperback version of her book will be released this month.

Give the conversation a listen here, or subscribe to the Tone Madison podcast on Apple Podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and consider supporting us financially with a one-time or recurring donation.

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