In recent months, I have been in a little “slump” in my photographic adventures. Luckily, in October when I took a driving trip to see my family in Virginia, my father gave me a Koni Omega Rapid (oddball medium format), Graflex Crown Graphic (large format), and a Rolleiflex Automat (twin lens reflex) to use! He’s always been good like that and I think that seeing me getting back into film photography made him want to hand these off to someone to use again…they were just sitting in drawers in their dank basement.
I got home with these new gems and was getting some great inspiration just by having these cameras in my hot little hands. Upon my return, I was on flickr catching up and someone had posted about a photographer by the name of Vivian Maier from Chicago that had just been “discovered” after her passing. He made mention of her use of a Rolleiflex and this really intrigued me. I found more information on the web about her shooting through many decades with her Rollei and that there were thousands of rolls of film found of hers. There were two major things that made me very interested in her; the fact that she was a woman photographer in a time when it was very male dominated, and that she used a Rolleiflex camera rather than a more “dainty” 35mm or other smaller camera that a typical woman of the era would.
I came to read about her, watch videos and see her story explode across the internet. What a find this John Maloof had come across! Thoughts of her falling into obscurity went through my mind and made me so thankful that John had the wisdom to see the great value of this woman’s images and the story of her life. There is now a display of her work and a couple of her cameras in Chicago…makes me really want to go there to see it and the place that she had called home for so much of her life.
Now this Rolleiflex that my father had entrusted me with had so much more meaning to me. It started with a fascination of the German engineering of a machine that was made around WWII and now the added interest of a mid century woman photographer having used a very similar camera. I can’t wait to use the camera more and watch the incredible story of this amazingly talented woman photographer unfold.