So I've been thinking about Vivian Maier's photographs since I watched the film on Sunday. And here's what I've been thinking about it:
1. Her photos conveyed emotion. To be honest, I've never studied great photographers, I've done more reading on the techniques of taking photographs and processing them. But I've been thinking about some of VM's photos, the images that have stayed with me -- and I've concluded that the reason they are staying with me is the way she's captured an emotion -laden moment. Here are a few that have stayed in my mind:
2. And that has made me think about my own photography. I usually avoid photographing people. In part it's a bit of reserve, feeling that it's somewhat intrusive to take someone's picture. And I think it's related to my being essentially introverted -- my gut reaction is usually that having people in a picture ruin it, I'd rather see the scene without people! So it's far easier for me to see art in objects and scenes than in people. I'm realizing that I need to think differently about it. But my first impulse (in any art -- photography, drawing) is to avoid people.
3. And then I started thinking about the photos of people I have taken -- other than family ones, I mean. It's easiest for me to photograph kids. Partly I think it's that kids are so expressive. It's fun to watch them, and when they're little, their emotions flit across their faces so plainly. Partly, too, they seem more accessible (in my world, anyway). Some how having a child enter a scene I'm watching doesn't feel intrusive the way an adult entering would. (Hm. Perhaps there is an issue for therapeutic exploration here!!) And then they are usually so involved in their own moment, and they are often so oblivious to people around them, that I don't feel as if I'm intruding to shoot them. I still am of course. So is the intrusion I'm worried about my sense of invading their privacy, or my fear of being perceived as intrusive? By the way, you can see the few photos of people I've posted on Flickr here. And, I'm pleased to realize, I think why I liked them enough process and post them is that they do have an emotional content to them.
4. And THAT makes me think about how (as someone commented in the movie) VM using a waist-held Rollieiflex probably made her street shooting easier. It looks less intrusive and less obvious to shoot from the waist, versus the obvious "I'm taking your picture" act of bringing the camera up to one's face to point and shoot. Does your camera have a viewing screen that can tilt out? Mine does -- and that makes me think that perhaps we should each try using the camera as VM did, shooting from it hanging from our necks.