The power of authenticity

maier

Vivian Maier was an intensely private street photographer whose work was discovered by accident in 2007, two years before her death. Since her discovery, writers, historians, art collectors, and the public have fallen in love with her work and are burning to learn more about the enigmatic person behind the Rolleiflex. Although she shot over 150,000 images, only a few were ever printed. In fact, over 2,000 rolls of film were left unprocessed in the canister. In spite of that, her work matured in concept and quality over the course of her life. How does a photographer improve without seeing the photos? How does a full-time nanny find time to become such a masterful observer? Those are the kinds of questions I and thousands of other admirers have about Maier. I think our fascination is rooted in Maier’s authenticity. She had a genuine passion for photography—a passion that she followed without the need for critique by others or audience approval. Her creative drive was an end in in itself. That authenticity is enormously appealing. That is the quality we all should aspire to in our work for education. The closer we come to authentically capturing the essence of a place, the better we will communicate to our audience. Do the photos feel real or staged? Are the words honest or are they institution-speak? These things matter a great deal if you want to be seen and remembered.