Posing & Reading People – Vivian Maier: The Fascinating Contradictions of Her Personality & Shooting Style

Posing & Reading People – Vivian Maier: The Fascinating Contradictions of Her Personality & Shooting Style

First, a quick background…

In the end of October 2015, I was flown to China to speak on photographer Vivian Maier and this article that I wrote about her. Why me? What makes me a Vivian Maier expert? Well my article was based on my particular skill to read people, and using that insight to share what Vivian constantly says about herself in her photographs. This is how I start the 5,500 word article…

“As a portrait photographer, I find people fascinating. I’ve worked for a couple decades on being able to read the people that come into my studio the way a fortuneteller might. I’m curious as to people’s personalities, their background, and the things in their lives that have made them who they are. Mannerisms, body language, physical characteristics, they way they dress, comb their hair, the style and things that they are attracted to, the things they talk about or don’t talk about – all of these and more speak volumes about a person.”

The conference, ‘Photo Beijing’ was specifically about Vivian Maier that year. They had an exhibit including 50 original images of hers on loan. My article was to be included and published in a book, a compilation of articles by the speakers. Here’s me arriving in Beijing at the event. They had banners like this all over the city.

For the opening ceremony, we each walked down this large red carpet. While walking amongst the camera clicks and flashes, they had television cameras too from their big national television network CCTV, and I could even see myself projected on the huge screen in the distance as it cut from camera to camera. The whole thing was quite exhilarating.

Here’s a 30 second iPhone video of me at the top of those stairs in the distance (above) after walking the red carpet.

From there I was taken to Inner Mongolia, and the region of ‘Bairin Left’ to be honored and shown the culture of the area.

I took a number of photographs, and write more about this experience on my photo blog. And I also published a photo book of some of my favorite images from Mongolia, available here in my art store.

Now to the article…

Vivian Maier: The Fascinating Contradictions of Her Personality & Shooting Style

By Bry Cox

As a portrait photographer, I find people fascinating. I’ve worked for a couple decades on being able to read the people that come into my studio the way a fortuneteller might. I’m curious as to people’s personalities, their background, and the things in their lives that have made them who they are. Mannerisms, body language, physical characteristics, they way they dress, comb their hair, the style and things that they are attracted to, the things they talk about or don’t talk about – all of these and more speak volumes about a person.

Vivian Maier shares a lot about herself through her many self-portraits and images of other people. Her work shows that she is full of fascinating contradictions in her personality, and those shine through her images like a bright light. These various signals may seem subtle at first, but they are a fortuneteller’s gold mine. I will share and explore them with you.

First, Vivian’s images give us a view at how she sees the people around her, which determines how she chooses to photograph them, portray them, and how and why she works they way she does as a street photographer. But it’s not just the people around her, it’s the city, the context, her perspective, and how she frames everything that speaks volumes as well. And finally, we get to see how Vivian sees herself inside her own mind, particularly in the context of the world around her, and why she photographs herself the way she does.

Once you see and understand these themes, it will be as though Vivian is screaming to us about herself through the silence of her camera.

Let’s start by delving into the fascinating contradictions of her personality that created her shooting style and is incredibly evident in her photographs.

Login to read the entire article…

This content is for members only.