Currently I am rocked between several landscapes; the space-themed WIP, modern sport, 1950s black and white New York City. The latter is courtesy of Vivian Maier, a photographer who chronicled New York, Chicago, Canada and anywhere else she went. I learned of Ms. Maier from a good friend who is also a photographer. Maier’s site is sitting among space shuttle and MS tabs (that’s to do with book research); my youngest daughter scolds for how many tabs I leave up, but I don’t clear them out until a project is completed. And in the case of Vivian Maier, I might leave that one up for a long, long time.
That daughter might gripe about tabs, but she carries a deep affinity for old family snapshots, of which we have plenty! She probably won’t be interested in Maier’s world, like another universe compared to 2012. But that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m so captivated. Maier’s eye is so sharp, also tender; children and old people are her main subjects, and do check out her self-portraits, just stunning. Her story is novel-worthy, over 100,000 negatives taken in her lifetime, found by collectors after she couldn’t pay for the continued storage. I peruse thrift and antique shops for old pictures, using them for inspiration. I see Maier’s shots in a similar manner to those I pick up for a dollar here, two bucks there; lives documented, but where did they go, what did they experience? These shots are of my grandmother and her two sisters. I know exactly what happened to them; but what of all those others?
In writing, I flesh out characters, building worlds around them. Maier’s pictures are real-life, nothing fictional. These shots are of relatives long gone, but a part of my heart, my history. I am blessed to have known them, and blessed to comprehend a little of those days. My daughter will share the stories, the photographs, that lineage. Perhaps it’s a Facebook world, but in viewing Maier’s vista, considering my own ancestors, the past swirls like the sci-fi panoramas I conjure. So many lives of which to tell, so little time to note those journeys.