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Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny

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The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life. Vivian Maier, the photographer nanny whose work was famously discovered in a Chicago storage locker, captured the imagination The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life. Vivian Maier, the photographer nanny whose work was famously discovered in a Chicago storage locker, captured the imagination of the world with her masterful images and mysterious life. Before posthumously skyrocketing to global fame, she had so deeply buried her past that even the families she lived with knew little about her. No one could relay where she was born or raised, if she had parents or siblings, if she enjoyed personal relationships, why she took photographs and why she didn’t share them with others. Now, the full story of her extraordinary life is explored by the only person who has been given access to her personal records and archive of 140,000 photographs. Based on meticulous investigative research, Vivian Maier Developed reveals the story of a woman who fled from a family with a hidden history of illegitimacy, bigamy, parental rejection, substance abuse, violence, and mental illness to live life on her own terms. Left with a limited ability to disclose feelings and form relationships, she expressed herself through photography, creating a secret portfolio of pictures teeming with emotion, authenticity, and humanity. With limitless resilience she knocked down every obstacle in her way, determined to improve her lot in life and that of others by tirelessly advocating for the rights of workers, women, African Americans, and Native Americans. No one knew that behind the detached veneer was a profoundly intelligent, empathetic, and inspired woman—a woman so creatively gifted that her body of work would become one of the greatest photographic discoveries of the century.


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The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life. Vivian Maier, the photographer nanny whose work was famously discovered in a Chicago storage locker, captured the imagination The definitive biography that unlocks the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny who lived secretly as a world-class photographer, featuring nearly 400 of her images, many never seen before, placed for the first time in the context of her life. Vivian Maier, the photographer nanny whose work was famously discovered in a Chicago storage locker, captured the imagination of the world with her masterful images and mysterious life. Before posthumously skyrocketing to global fame, she had so deeply buried her past that even the families she lived with knew little about her. No one could relay where she was born or raised, if she had parents or siblings, if she enjoyed personal relationships, why she took photographs and why she didn’t share them with others. Now, the full story of her extraordinary life is explored by the only person who has been given access to her personal records and archive of 140,000 photographs. Based on meticulous investigative research, Vivian Maier Developed reveals the story of a woman who fled from a family with a hidden history of illegitimacy, bigamy, parental rejection, substance abuse, violence, and mental illness to live life on her own terms. Left with a limited ability to disclose feelings and form relationships, she expressed herself through photography, creating a secret portfolio of pictures teeming with emotion, authenticity, and humanity. With limitless resilience she knocked down every obstacle in her way, determined to improve her lot in life and that of others by tirelessly advocating for the rights of workers, women, African Americans, and Native Americans. No one knew that behind the detached veneer was a profoundly intelligent, empathetic, and inspired woman—a woman so creatively gifted that her body of work would become one of the greatest photographic discoveries of the century.

30 review for Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A fascinating companion to the documentary about Vivian Maier. A bit long at times though and I wish there were more photos included.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    In preparing to write Vivian Maier Developed, Ann Marks, former Chief Marketing Officer of The Wall Street Journal, spent the better part of a decade investigating the life of one of the 20th Century's greatest photographers to provide a first-of-a-kind look into the life of Vivian Maier. In 2008 John Maloof stumbled upon a small collection of photograph prints and negatives at a storage facility foreclosure sale. Stunned by the incredible artistry of these photographs, which included pictures of In preparing to write Vivian Maier Developed, Ann Marks, former Chief Marketing Officer of The Wall Street Journal, spent the better part of a decade investigating the life of one of the 20th Century's greatest photographers to provide a first-of-a-kind look into the life of Vivian Maier. In 2008 John Maloof stumbled upon a small collection of photograph prints and negatives at a storage facility foreclosure sale. Stunned by the incredible artistry of these photographs, which included pictures of people and things that populated urban landscapes, Maloof posted them to Flickr and an unknown photographer - Vivian Maier - was launched into the social imagination. For years people have known very little about Vivian Maier other than that she was an eccentric nanny and that she died only a year and a half after her pictures were discovered (and before anyone could speak with her). This left her fans in the dark about the woman who's photography has come to inspire the masses. In Vivian Maier Developed, the curtain is pulled back on the elusive nanny photographer for the first time. Marks spent years digging through family records, interviewing Maier's charges, and traveling to the rural town in France from where Maier's family emigrated and in doing so was able to construct a complex story of a woman with a background of mental illness, family abuse, poverty, and yet also a woman who fought all odds to find happiness and artistry despite these circumstances. I have been a fan of Vivian Maier since I first saw her photographs in 2009. Her work and ability to humanize the people she encountered on the street and subsequently photographed speaks to the passion she had for civil rights, the working classes, and those who society had otherwise forgotten. Despite her struggles with mental illness and a past that still remains relatively unknown, Vivian Maier Developed underscores that its protagonist was as incredible, fascinating, and unique a person as her photographs evidence. This book helped me understand someone I have always had a fondness for and in doing so led me to happiness and to tears.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Ann

    I enjoyed the book with reservations. The research, the index, oh my. I loved hearing about Vivan's travels, her family of origin, her alliances and her personality. My reservations: The Diagnosis of Vivian , her brother or anyone else except by a forensic crew. Certainly not by picking symptomatology . There are so MANY factors : Diagnosis of her brother was according to DSM I or II IF AT ALL. Those itty bitty manuals were largely devoted to a Dx of Neurosis or Psychosis, categories which are n I enjoyed the book with reservations. The research, the index, oh my. I loved hearing about Vivan's travels, her family of origin, her alliances and her personality. My reservations: The Diagnosis of Vivian , her brother or anyone else except by a forensic crew. Certainly not by picking symptomatology . There are so MANY factors : Diagnosis of her brother was according to DSM I or II IF AT ALL. Those itty bitty manuals were largely devoted to a Dx of Neurosis or Psychosis, categories which are no longer included in present day massive manuals which identify specific diagnostic criteria. I wish Marks would have also consulted others as to this aspect of Maier's life... AS a Mental Health Professional of many years, I found this disturbing. NEVERTHELESS, The book is intriguing, enjoyable, and one I would recommend . Thank You Goodreads.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Sometimes quiet lives echo the loudest.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mystic Miraflores

    I had never before heard of Vivian Maier and I love reading about previously unknown fascinating people. Vivian's life story really sounded like a novel. Could such a complex and rich life with a dark family history and peripatetic living situations be true! I was satisfied to see that it could be. She was a seemingly unremarkable person with a truly remarkable and undiscovered talent. I appreciate Ms. Marks deep and thorough digging into Vivian's life and her perseverance in tracking down Vivia I had never before heard of Vivian Maier and I love reading about previously unknown fascinating people. Vivian's life story really sounded like a novel. Could such a complex and rich life with a dark family history and peripatetic living situations be true! I was satisfied to see that it could be. She was a seemingly unremarkable person with a truly remarkable and undiscovered talent. I appreciate Ms. Marks deep and thorough digging into Vivian's life and her perseverance in tracking down Vivian's relatives, few friends, and the children she had taken care of. I also liked the intense psychological theories about what made Vivian take photographs and her mental illness. Now I want to track down the documentaries about Vivian.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zaz

    Great book, with a lot of work put into researching Vivian's life and family history. It was interesting to have a background with so much depth, even if a part of it will never be completed. Vivian's family was kind of a nightmare, but she succeeded to build a nice life for herself, even if she struggled with relationships and mental health. I found the whole a lot more positive than the older documentary Finding Vivian and it was nice to see how much she seemed to enjoy taking photos. Some of Great book, with a lot of work put into researching Vivian's life and family history. It was interesting to have a background with so much depth, even if a part of it will never be completed. Vivian's family was kind of a nightmare, but she succeeded to build a nice life for herself, even if she struggled with relationships and mental health. I found the whole a lot more positive than the older documentary Finding Vivian and it was nice to see how much she seemed to enjoy taking photos. Some of them are displayed in the book, helping to understand events, and as usual with her photography, I found them interesting. The writing style and the chronology were pretty good, keeping me invested in the read, its people and events.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Wish there were more books like this While the family relationships are quite complicated and hard to remember, it is fabulous to follow the photographer, Vivian Meier, through her life with photos from each segment. And, it is great that it is written by a photographer who understands of what she speaks.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Irwin

    If I wanted to quibble, I'd say that the early chapters of this book are a bit slow moving, as Marks explores Ms, Maier's ancestry, but the time spent on her grandparents and parents pays off later on when we consider how Vivian lived through her adulthood. Hardly becoming very close to her charges, she worked as a nanny, but thrived as a photographer. the photos that Marks includes in this volume are a good representation of the variety of Maier's work, from early landscapes to portrait and str If I wanted to quibble, I'd say that the early chapters of this book are a bit slow moving, as Marks explores Ms, Maier's ancestry, but the time spent on her grandparents and parents pays off later on when we consider how Vivian lived through her adulthood. Hardly becoming very close to her charges, she worked as a nanny, but thrived as a photographer. the photos that Marks includes in this volume are a good representation of the variety of Maier's work, from early landscapes to portrait and street photography, as well as her foray into color. Most haunting are the self portraits. Perhaps Marks goes to far in her diagnosis of Maier's behavior, but given the evidence, her conclusions make sense.

  9. 5 out of 5

    maddie (thenmaddieread)

    An exhaustively researched biography of Vivian Maier provides much more information on the famously private street photographer. Although it's a bit long at points (there's almost as much information on her ancestors as there is on her), it flows well and is nicely broken up by photographs. Marks' analysis of Vivian's behavior as a nanny likely could have used a little more nuance. I generally find attempts by professionals to diagnose a person they've never met, particularly a deceased person w An exhaustively researched biography of Vivian Maier provides much more information on the famously private street photographer. Although it's a bit long at points (there's almost as much information on her ancestors as there is on her), it flows well and is nicely broken up by photographs. Marks' analysis of Vivian's behavior as a nanny likely could have used a little more nuance. I generally find attempts by professionals to diagnose a person they've never met, particularly a deceased person with very little personal information left behind, fairly problematic and while I don't disagree that there was certainly evidence of mental illness here I could have done without their diagnoses in this book. Marks takes special care to emphasize Vivian's forward-thinking political and social beliefs, and I would have appreciated more time being spent on them, especially since they're restated without additional analysis or information in the appendix. As ever, Vivian's collection raises questions about ownership, copyright, and privacy, which I think can be extended out to amateur and/or outsider art writ large. The author concludes that Vivian would be proud to have her work displayed after her death, and while I agree, I don't think she'd want it being displayed as it is now. There's a bit in the appendix where Marks writes about how developing, editing, and cropping photographs is basically as intrinsic to the art form as setting up the shot is, and I agree - particularly given all the evidence that Marks presents about Vivian being thoughtful about cropping. Still, there's no doubt that Vivian was a groundbreaking photographer, and I'm grateful her work was discovered. Thank you Atria and NetGalley for the ARC!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Vivian Maier is so fascinating because, in large part, so little is known about her. After spending countless hours digging into her background and telling this story, Marks essentially confirms that Maier’s past is filled with holes. As a result, I can’t help but feel that this book probably makes quite a few inferences and that if Maier were alive to read it, she would likely disagree with quite a bit. I suppose that’s why I prefer memoirs over autobiographies. All that said, I did learn some Vivian Maier is so fascinating because, in large part, so little is known about her. After spending countless hours digging into her background and telling this story, Marks essentially confirms that Maier’s past is filled with holes. As a result, I can’t help but feel that this book probably makes quite a few inferences and that if Maier were alive to read it, she would likely disagree with quite a bit. I suppose that’s why I prefer memoirs over autobiographies. All that said, I did learn some new things about this fascinating nanny photographer and for the most part enjoyed the book and especially enjoyed the accompanying photographs. For those of you not familiar with Maier, she is incredibly fascinating and mysterious. You can’t help but be drawn to her story as well as her street photography. She is described as having “a photographic style that sought to capture the reality of the human condition with an absolute absence of judgement.” As such, her photos depict a lot of the class and racial disparities of the 1950’s-1970’s. Her photos also have quite a sense of humor to them. All this coming from a woman who had a “unstable, narcissistic mother; a violent, alcoholic father; and a drug-addicted, schizophrenic brother.” The fact that her photos and story were uncovered at all is really quite amazing too. I love reading about artistic women and while this wasn’t necessarily my favorite, I don’t feel like this was a waste of a few good reading days.

  11. 4 out of 5

    vicki honeyman

    Street photographer/nanny Vivian Maier was an unknown artist until 2007, when her body of work was discovered in a Chicago storage locker. That discovery opened up a mystery: who was Vivian Maier and why did she shoot 140,000 images over her 85 years and not do anything with them? Through meticulous research and interviews, writer Ann Marks has brought Vivan’s history and story to light in a most fascinating read, complete with explanations for the 400 photos included in the book. If you’re not Street photographer/nanny Vivian Maier was an unknown artist until 2007, when her body of work was discovered in a Chicago storage locker. That discovery opened up a mystery: who was Vivian Maier and why did she shoot 140,000 images over her 85 years and not do anything with them? Through meticulous research and interviews, writer Ann Marks has brought Vivan’s history and story to light in a most fascinating read, complete with explanations for the 400 photos included in the book. If you’re not familiar with this world-class photographer whose work and keen eye are compared to those of Robert Frank, Weegee Lisette Model, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, introduce yourself to her photographs with the knowledge that every picture she shot were kept to herself until after her death, and be grateful that we now have access to see what she saw behind her camera lens.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Clancy

    A tremendous amount of research was done by the author to write this book. For the most part I did find it quite interesting. At times I found myself wishing it was over. I would have given it 2 1/2 stars if I could have but since you can only give a 2 or a 3 I went with 3 because it would not be fair to give it a 2 star rating. I loved the amount of photos although many were very blurred and grainy. Wish there were more of her photos of famous people, she had a unique view in the pictures she t A tremendous amount of research was done by the author to write this book. For the most part I did find it quite interesting. At times I found myself wishing it was over. I would have given it 2 1/2 stars if I could have but since you can only give a 2 or a 3 I went with 3 because it would not be fair to give it a 2 star rating. I loved the amount of photos although many were very blurred and grainy. Wish there were more of her photos of famous people, she had a unique view in the pictures she took. Really enjoyed all the follow up on the people involved. I received this as a Goodreads giveaway. At $40 for the book I would have never bought it, probably down the line when it hit the discount book bins.

  13. 4 out of 5

    April

    I, like many others, first heard of Vivian Maier when I came across the documentary about her on Netflix several years ago. So many parts of her story are intriguing, and her story never left me although I hadn’t thought about it for a while until I saw the release of this book, and knew I HAD to read it. I was not disappointed and couldn’t put the book down. It is meticulously researched and provides a much larger context for perhaps beginning to understand her artistry and peculiarities. I was I, like many others, first heard of Vivian Maier when I came across the documentary about her on Netflix several years ago. So many parts of her story are intriguing, and her story never left me although I hadn’t thought about it for a while until I saw the release of this book, and knew I HAD to read it. I was not disappointed and couldn’t put the book down. It is meticulously researched and provides a much larger context for perhaps beginning to understand her artistry and peculiarities. I was fascinated by her family background and dynamics and the book as a whole left me with an appreciation for the backstories that exist for everyone on earth and a sense of wonder at how many more Vivian Maiers in one form or another are out there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    *I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway* Considering that no one knew anything about the overwhelmingly private Vivian Maier, the author has managed to weave together a fairly complete life story from bits and pieces and odd mentions. This story was such a blockbuster as it unfolded, it was captivating to learn all the details of the woman's life, the discovery of the photos, how the decisions were made regarding them, and how the author managed tracked down as much information as she did *I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway* Considering that no one knew anything about the overwhelmingly private Vivian Maier, the author has managed to weave together a fairly complete life story from bits and pieces and odd mentions. This story was such a blockbuster as it unfolded, it was captivating to learn all the details of the woman's life, the discovery of the photos, how the decisions were made regarding them, and how the author managed tracked down as much information as she did. The biography is incredibly well researched, and very respectful of a life and the mental illness Meier suffered from.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dr. David M. Gallin

    A fascinating biography. It reads like a novel. Ms. Marks adroitly takes us thru Ms. Maier's troubled life from start to finish. In addition the author explains how she sleuthed her way thru Vivian Maier's 140,00 pictures, untold references, relatives, friends, acquaintances and numerous government records in order to explain this gifted photographer. I could not put it down. The prose are fantastic. In addition Ms. Marks explains in vibrant detail how she tracked down and gathered all her infor A fascinating biography. It reads like a novel. Ms. Marks adroitly takes us thru Ms. Maier's troubled life from start to finish. In addition the author explains how she sleuthed her way thru Vivian Maier's 140,00 pictures, untold references, relatives, friends, acquaintances and numerous government records in order to explain this gifted photographer. I could not put it down. The prose are fantastic. In addition Ms. Marks explains in vibrant detail how she tracked down and gathered all her information. It is an exciting read from cover to cover.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brandi Pearl Reynolds

    Well-written and extremely well-researched, "Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny" is an interesting biography about a photographer whose works I was unfamiliar with before I received this book. It's another of those stories that makes one wonder how many hidden talents some people have. I really like how well-illustrated this book is, it would make an excellent reference for an art or photography student. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested Well-written and extremely well-researched, "Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny" is an interesting biography about a photographer whose works I was unfamiliar with before I received this book. It's another of those stories that makes one wonder how many hidden talents some people have. I really like how well-illustrated this book is, it would make an excellent reference for an art or photography student. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in biographies, photography, and/or art.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This was a quick, interesting read. It’s very well researched and in the early sections it was almost too much - for example, I got every detail of Maier’s extended family members’ lives for several generations back and didn’t feel I needed it all. Maier’s life and psychology were fascinating, and though sometimes the speculation about the latter took some big leaps, ultimately it was an empathetic portrait of an artist with a difficult life whose artistry mainly existed in private. (I received t This was a quick, interesting read. It’s very well researched and in the early sections it was almost too much - for example, I got every detail of Maier’s extended family members’ lives for several generations back and didn’t feel I needed it all. Maier’s life and psychology were fascinating, and though sometimes the speculation about the latter took some big leaps, ultimately it was an empathetic portrait of an artist with a difficult life whose artistry mainly existed in private. (I received this book from a GoodReads giveaway.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Excellent Biographical Portrait and Analysis of Vivian Maier Anne Marks has written a painstakingly researched and superb biographical portrait of Vivian Maier. The writing is first quality, very accessible and revelatory of Maier’s remarkable life and the times in which she captured in her photography. No so stone in Vivian Maier’s life is left unturned. Highly recommend!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan Sherman

    This book is a compilation of extensive research. Even with all the fact finding, there is still a lot unknown. The telling may not have flown with ease but I thank everyone who searched for Vivian's past and have started sharing it with the rest of the world This book is a compilation of extensive research. Even with all the fact finding, there is still a lot unknown. The telling may not have flown with ease but I thank everyone who searched for Vivian's past and have started sharing it with the rest of the world

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Harlan

    Ann Marks has written a brilliant and impassioned exploration of the life and work of this remarkable photographer. Vivian Maier's story reads like a thriller and reveals a prodigiously talented woman's journey from obscurity to recognition, thanks to Marks' meticulous and unrelenting research. Ann Marks has written a brilliant and impassioned exploration of the life and work of this remarkable photographer. Vivian Maier's story reads like a thriller and reveals a prodigiously talented woman's journey from obscurity to recognition, thanks to Marks' meticulous and unrelenting research.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Incredibly thorough. I learned a lot, but, as usual with all things Vivian Maier, I ended up feeling weird about how intensely her life - and her family's life - has been picked apart by strangers. Oh well, it's not like she cares anymore. (But I still feel a little bad about it.) Incredibly thorough. I learned a lot, but, as usual with all things Vivian Maier, I ended up feeling weird about how intensely her life - and her family's life - has been picked apart by strangers. Oh well, it's not like she cares anymore. (But I still feel a little bad about it.)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Hungate

    A fascinating story about a gifted artist. Truly a pleasure to read, and outstanding scholarship — a rare combination. Read this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Ann Garcia

    A fantastic rale of a complex, talented woman told through words and pictures.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Ann Marks has managed to fill in the gaps of this mysterious photographer. It's a fascinating read and the photos are riveting. Ann Marks has managed to fill in the gaps of this mysterious photographer. It's a fascinating read and the photos are riveting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trudy

    I am using this as a coffee table book. Very interesting!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aletha Pagett

    A thorough exploration of a fascinating photographer through the lens of her own camera. Remarkable research. This was received from Goodreads.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

    The fascinating life of Vivian Maier was troubled, inspiring, sad, happy and creative. The author captures the complicated life in this excellent biography.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Well researched and engaging biography of an enigmatic and talented mid-century photographer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I’ve loved watching the discovery of Vivian Maier and seeing her history uncovered and written.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Wendt

    An intriguing biography about the mysterious life of Vivian Maier! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It kept my attention and I found it to be a fascinating read!

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