I don't know how many of you watched the Imagine documentary on BBC1 last night about the photographs of Vivian Maier. It's available on iPlayer - I thoroughly recommend it! Alternatively, a number of her images are on the web, notably at http://www.vivianmaier.com.
Her photographs are simply amazing. For me, her images are the epitome of Edward Cartier Bresson's mantra of "the decisive moment". As pieces of art they are an incredible record of life on the streets of New York over the 50s, but as photographs they are stunning pedagogical examples of the art of photography. A good photograph has to possess strong elements of composition, light, subject matter and timing. Great photographs have them all - Vivian Maier's excelled at the lot!
They are true black and white images - by that I mean they have pure black, pure white and all the tones in between. They emphasise the subject by the skilled use of light and composition. One can learn a lot about how to take a great photograph by studying the images she took.
She took all of these on a Rolleiflex medium format manual camera, similar to the Rolleicord I have, yet her control of exposure, focus and depth of field were amazing - makes you wonder why we rely on autofocus and autoexposure so much these days.
She took photographs for herself, she never showed her images to anyone and kept the 150,000 of them locked away until her death when they were discovered. She was not influenced by what people thought or wanted, she just took the photographs of what she wanted the way she wanted.
I have never seen such natural talent.
I have a lot to learn.