Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vivian Maier. Amateur. Artist.

Yesterday I clicked over to The Novel Woman's blog.  I know I had been there before...I wanted to reacquaint myself with her blog.

A Novel Woman

On her blog I watched this really cool trailer from the documentary "Finding Vivian Maier".
Thank you Pam.

I am going to say something unpopular but true.

Not everyone who loves photography needs to go into business.  It is not required.
People will ask you to take their pictures when they see you make pretty pictures...
but business is completely different than loving photography.

Vivian did not go into business.  She quietly and secretly made her art with her camera.
Mysterious and Inspiring.

I have been following a girl on Flickr for years named Allison; She calls herself Snippets from Suburbia.
She is THE most creative and talented photographer I know.
She is an amateur.

Be inspired.

Snippets from Suburbia: Explored


Thank you for the wonderful recipes and ideas yesterday.
Melinda says 'people love to talk about food.'
Katie says 'people like to be asked questions.'
I say, "It was great! Thanks!"

Encourage one another,
Donna Elsie


  1. I love Vivian Maier! All of her self-portraits, her perspective, her courage to have her camera with her nearly all the time. I just think she's incredible.

  2. Donna,
    I saw this the other day. I am going to watch it later. Snippets from Suburbia I follow because of you. She is amazing!!!

  3. Checking in before I leave for errands and book club -- oh this is fantastic. Where have I been? I've never heard of Vivian Maier. I'll have to ask my hubby if he knows about this. He would definitely be intrigued.

    What amazing images.

    Donna, do you ever shoot with film anymore?

    People see my husband carting around his equipment (his large format camera) and they assume he's a professional and ask about it. He says "no, it's my passion"

    Happy Wednesday everyone.

    1. That is perfect. "no, it's my passion." love that.
      My film camera is broken. I dug it out and tried with a roll of was sad how poor they turned out without a meter working. I would love a film camera. So badly.

    2. Just took the doggy out - about to leave - Jesse has found his film large format cameras on ebay. He's been lucky.

      I'm lucky too - or I should say blessed - we have wonderful images on our walls - memories of so many adventures.


  4. I have loved following the Vivian Maier project. Such a fun discovery and beautiful work.

    I 195% agree with what you said about going into business. I have two friends who learned photography with me to take better photos of their families. They fell in love with it as I did. Both went into business full on shortly after getting started. Those same two burned out and rarely pick up their camera's anymore. It makes me feel a little sad. I have found ways to make money with my photography slowly over time. It is a small, manageable business for me and I enjoy it profusely. It fits me. And although I go through spurts with creativity, I have never felt "burned out." I just fall more in love with it everyday.

    1. Photography I still love. But the whole business thing and the taxes...well that was a huge eye opener and terribly depressing.

      It was very stressful to me too. The pressure to please other people...instead of the joy of making art that you love.

      I admit it. I am the Debbie Downer of the Photo Biz.

      the thing one will tell you this because they want to make money off of workshops for new photographers who want to be in business :op

    2. Anonymous10:59 AM

      Donna, we are doing our taxes right now...well, my husband is working on them and I am sitting here in support of him. I am so sorry that you had the stress associated with your business and taxes. You are not a Debbie Downer, instead you are aware of what makes you happy and what is good for your soul and that is important. And, you are The Great Encourager and perhaps that is what God had in mind for you. I know I thank God for you everyday. :-) love and prayers, jep

    3. Thank YOU for those encouraging words! Love you.

    4. I don't like the business part either. That is why my business is very "small." And I agree that there are not enough voices saying that photography is a beautiful hobby. Maybe I need to voice my opinion about that louder. I LOVE teaching other women how to use their camera and get better photos so I endure the business part. I did my taxes this weekend. That will make anyone with a business a "downer!!"

    5. Gayle, I can name names of women friends who need help with Lightroom.
      I wish I was as accomplished as you so I could help them. They want one on one lessons and they are far from me.
      Have you ever thought of traveling to teach?
      I would recommend you without hesitation

  5. Julie9:44 AM

    Like Mom and Camera, I have been aware of this project for several years. There is a web site where you can see more of her pictures. She was a fascinating/strange woman.

    I'm eager to check out Snippets from Suburbia. While I certainly enjoy seeing the work of professional photographers, I find that my feed reader is populated far more with those who simply love to take photos. I enjoy seeing other people's perspectives, what catches their eye.

  6. I can't wait to see that documentary. I love these types of films. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for reminding me that I don't need to give up on a hobby that I love because I can't see a future as a "professional". You are the best.


  7. I love photography, but have ZERO desire to ever do it as a business. I have seen the business side of photography take the joy out of it for too many.
    Isn't Allison amazing? I love her work. I know her from Clickin' Moms and find her so inspiring. I especially love that she's not in business.
    I also find you, Donna, incredibly inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Anonymous10:55 AM

    Thank you for sharing this Donna! It was being on vacation! Loved it. really, thank you.

  9. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Wow, what an amazing person, Vivian Maier was...reminds me of Emily Dickinson and her poetry...very private. I watched the video and just wonder about the serendipity of how it turned out that someone bought a box and it contained a woman's life. I visited SFS to see Allison's work. I enjoyed her subject matter, her notations, and mostly the fun that shows through it all. She is very talented. Thank you Donna, for sharing.
    love and prayers, jep

  10. I love Vivian Maier too! Thank you for the new recommendation... I love inspiring photography.

    I completely completely agree with you that not every photographer needs to "go into business". It's frustrating sometimes how that's what everyone thinks they need to do now, and some hate it... yet they don't think they are a "real" photographer if they don't. I love your words, and your gentle way of saying things.

  11. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Oh, I can't wait to watch that documentary. That sounds very interesting. There are so many talented and interesting people in this world. I love it when you point us in their direction. Thanks!!

    P.S. I completely agree about the whole photography business thing. You said it way more tastefully than I could have. :)

    Sarah P. from Iowa

  12. Sonjasunshine1:05 PM

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful ideas and inspirations! I am so interested in learning more about Vivian Maier. Your thoughts on photography as a business are spot-on. I LOVE taking pictures, editing them, looking at them over and over. But trying to take pictures to please others zaps all the creativity right out of it for me. Some were meant to be professional photographers, but not me. I just do it cause I love it. You are always an inspiration!

  13. This is such a wonderful post. I am completely intrigued by Vivian Maier. Cannot wait to go learn more and watch this film. I second all that everyone else has said in the comments. The business of something you love is still a business and not everyone should take that path. Here here! More people should listen to your advice on that one. :) I love the idea that photography is a way of showing your family and friends a little peek into your corner of the world. It's such a joy to capture those images but that's far different than trying to take good family photo and worst yet...the edits to make the mom look thinner, dad with more hair, children happy!

    Thank you for a great post today!! :)

  14. Anonymous3:19 PM

    "the joy of making art that you love" -- so glad you share that art with others, Donna! I have been blessed by both your lovely words and images. xoxo Mary Z

  15. Oh, I learn so many things here. Thank you for sharing that trailer, Donna. I would love to watch this documentary. Also am now following Snippets. Wonderful stuff there.
    As for going into business . . . never. Not for me and for the same reasons you said. The pressure to please other people, and some of them can really not be nice - rather than to do it for enjoyment would take the fun out of it for me. No, you are not a Debbie Downer. You are honest. I love that.
    Co-workers have asked me to take pictures of their families. They see that I can take a good picture and they think they can get something on the cheap (my thoughts). I always say no. If I do for someone, then word will get out. And I will end up disliking it.
    I was appalled at a friend who was getting married. It was a simple wedding and she asked me if I was bringing my camera. I told her I rarely bring cameras to weddings - doesn't she have a photographer? She said she did not and was asking friends to just bring their cameras. That way she could get some wedding pictures. (Um, for free). I brought my damn camera. And I took pictures of my friend and they turned out beautiful. I was so surprised at how stunning they were and it made her cry because she was just so happy. But never again. The pressure was too great. (I cannot believe how much I've written here).

  16. I bring my camera to weddings.. For my pleasure :). But of course there us no pressure because I'm doing it for me
    And if something turns out nice I'm happy to pass it along.
    My arm has been twisted to shoot a reception in a few weeks. It will be dark.
    I'm not looking forward to being under that pressure. I even said"I don't have a flash."
    I think they think I'm magic.
    Ugh. Nervous..

    1. Donna, let us know in a simple way when this event takes place - it would be a privilege to pray that all goes well for you. And especially that you will have peace.

      Peace that passes all understanding :-)

      You have a gift, you know.

    2. Oh, Donna! I just bought a clever little device called a pop-up bounce flash. I use it on my Nikon D7000 with the in-camera flash. In-camera flash is horrible, but this little accessory ($30 from Photojojo) is surprisingly wonderful. There is a little bit of a learning curve and you need to shoot in full manual, using their suggested settings which you tweak. I have had really good results so far. Won't work if ceiling is not white or a light color, though. It uses a mirror to bounce the flash off a wall (holding camera sideways) or ceiling so that you don't have that awful on-camera straight on flash. Here is the little post I wrote on it:

    3. Too hard. Confusing. The reception is in an airplane hanger. So big. No bouncey bouncey.
      But thank you for that recommendation. Really.

  17. Thank you for sharing wisdom. :)

  18. Anonymous8:14 AM

    I didn't have a chance to read any of the other comments here, Donna, but I just want to express my respect for your wisdom, your heart, and your insights. It would be a treat to live near you as I think we'd be friends!

    I had a cake business for a few years, which was borne of a wedding planning business wherein I baked a cake for a bride. Word got out and it snowballed. While I loved the baking, the pressure ruined it. I would end up staying up all night, baking multiple cakes, fixing messed up baking snafus, and decorating. Totally ruined the love of it for me.

    My next step, after kids are through college and I quit working outside the home part time is to set up a small bakery. It will only be open from 7:00 a.m. to noon, and when I sell out of my goods, that's it. Kind of a pipe dream, but something I toy with.

    As for the photos, I love this story of Ms. Maier. I've often felt that the most amazing legacy is one we leave behind with photos. Even have taken a few of myself for my kids to 'find' someday. Makes the hobby even more interesting to me, and takes the pressure off of being 'good' at photography. Speaking of being good at it, though, it's still on my bucket list to have a session with you.

    Thanks for the beautiful blog. I love visiting every day. (And hope to be able to read the DA comments from Monday - been buried at work and haven't had a minute to do so!).

    Mary from Wheaton

  19. As for the photos, I love this story of Ms. Maier. I've often felt that the most amazing legacy is one we leave behind with photos. Even have taken a few of myself for my kids to 'find' someday. Makes the hobby even more interesting to me, and takes the pressure off of being 'good' at photography. Speaking of being good at it, though, it's still on my bucket list to have a session with you.


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