Finding Vivian Maier

giphy (12)
gif via Fast Company

The 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said to be “be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Vivian Maier took this to heart. No one ever knew this nanny was an artist of her own.

She took over 100,000 photos, mostly street photographs of downtown Chicago, and kept them for her own viewing, including her selfies. Taking pictures was her happy place, a creative outlet, that allowed her to see the world with a third eye. She wrote with light.

Today, Maier would’ve been an Instagram and VSCO sensation. While she may have resisted social media given her inclination as a loner, she probably would’ve enjoyed connecting with others who shared the same passion. The internet unleashes the weirdness in all of us, motivating us to share our work.

Van Gogh only sold one piece of artwork in his life, to his brother. His posthumous reputation speaks for itself, as does Maier’s.

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Beyond filters

Processed with VSCO with d2 preset
Processed with VSCO with d2 preset

Nobody uses filters anymore, at least in their original function. The overall consensus seems to be that #nofilter is just fine. But it’s also partly because people are better editors — mobile apps like VSCO and Instagram offer free toolkits that make it easy to adjust contrast, exposure, and saturation. You can also tweak the strength of the filter; a feature VSCO had all along, and Instagram has since copied.

Filters aren’t dead, though; they’re just evolving to meet visual means of communication and an appreciation for aesthetic. When Snapchat introduced facial lenses, users wanted to make their images more personal and playful. Meanwhile, Prisma’s popularity demonstrates the appetite to revert photos into pieces of art.

Smartphone users and social media enthusiasts love to dabble in photography. Having a good eye is not enough. Your images won’t stand out in the feeds unless they provide interesting  context or are reimagined enhancements of reality.

Processed with VSCO with d1 preset
Processed with VSCO with d1 preset

If you’re into new presets, be sure to download the limited edition Distortia Preset Pack from VSCO. Released to celebrate the company’s 5th anniversary, you can “reimagine the boundaries of color with these presets, created for unconventional looks and customizations.”

And while you’re at it, play with the with Mars effect of the Nike Sportswear filter as well.

Long on filters, or presets, whatever we call such special effects.

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Teju Cole on American exceptionalism, Black Lives Matter, creativity, and more

Teju cole

The Financial Times talks with novelist and photographer Teju Cole. I enjoy Cole’s work because he always comes at it from a unique point of view. He does not shy away from expressing himself — his views are blunt and often involved.

Cole also happens to be savvy Instagrammer who’s already posting mesmerizing stuff on Instagram Stories. He used to dabble in Twitter but is now active on Facebook and still scoping out Snapchat.

Below are some of the interesting talking points from the interview:

On being partisan:

“I recognise as a value that journalists always have an angle. It’s just that some people embed theirs and hide it under the name of neutrality, and neutrality is very often the favourite language of power.”

On ‘American exceptionalism’:

“we need to move beyond this ‘greatest country that’s ever existed’ thing. What is that? What is this, the Roman empire?”

On ‘All lives matter’:

“If I say ‘black lives matter’, it means what it means. You don’t go to someone’s funeral and start shouting, ‘I too have experienced loss!’ That shit is obnoxious.”

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On James Baldwin’s permanent state of rage as a black American:

“I’m not in a constant state of rage — it’s not good for my health. But there’s much that’s enraging and there’s a great deal that’s saddening. I don’t think I would go on record as saying America’s already great.”

On creativity and online expression’:

“Yes. Any tool, as long as it has … robust enough parameters, any tool can be the avenue for really serious creativity. I really believe that.”

In short, Cole is a masterful noticer and storyteller. He makes sense of the world through words and art, often combining both, to illustrate the subtleties and overlooked matters in American and global culture.

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New York City Legs by Stacey Baker


Citi Legs is a side project from New York Times Magazine photo editor Stacey Baker in which she takes pictures of women’s legs in NYC.

While she started taking the portraits in 2013, she’s gaining attention again, this time, with a book called New York Legs.

See what happens when you just start something for fun!

Capturing New York City Legs


Citi Legs is a side project from New York Times Magazine photo editor Stacey Baker in which she takes pictures of women’s legs in NYC.

While she started taking the portraits in 2013, she’s gaining attention again, this time turn with a book called New York Legs.

See what happens when you just start something for fun!