Oscar-worthy Photography

Every now and then, a discovery is made that rocks the art industry.  Recently, such a discovery was made in the realm of photography, as you’ve likely heard by now.

A formerly unknown nanny has emerged as an icon in street photography:  Vivian Maier was a quiet, secretive and unassuming woman who largely lived her life solely behind the lens.  Upon her death, alone and in a nursing home, a treasure-trove of negatives and undeveloped film was found and auctioned off for $380.  Inside, a gift was revealed…not only insight into Chicago’s haves and have-nots, but a sensitive view of Ms. Maier’s perspective for as many as 60 years.

Her images spawned a documentary titled Finding Vivian Maier.  While her photography continues to draw more and more people, it is she--Vivian Maier--that continues to fascinate.  So much so that this documentary has been nominated for an Oscar.  It airs live on ABC on February 22, 2015.

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Self-portraits Vivian Maier

However, this isn’t the first photography series that has been regarded so highly as a documentary.  Back in 2004, Kids with Cameras inspired a series called Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids.


Born into Brothels images

Two documentary filmmakers traveled to Calcutta, India to record conditions in the Red Light district, which included prostitution.  The filmmakers subsequently taught the children they met on the streets photography, and gave them cameras to inspire them to look at the world in a new way.  It was many of these photos that made the documentary Born into Brothels.  The film, released by THINKFilm, won an Academy Award, as well as many others.

An interesting side note to this film is that through art, many of the children featured in this documentary have escaped the squalor they were born into. One of the most stand-out personalities from this series was Avijit Halder.

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Halder at age 11

He is now a film student at NYU.  In fact, of all the children in Born into Brothels, only two have slipped back into the life of the slums.  All the rest are doing well, going to university in India or getting married.  This highlights the affect art can have on the young. An organization working to continue to bring art to the young is Young Audiences.  Their mission is to create art experiences that inspire young people, expand learning and enliven communities.

For more reading about Vivan Maier, Kids with Cameras or Young Audiences, please visit the following links: