Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

By coincidence I was about to post these two images under another topic but conveniently they seem to fit this week’s photo challenge.  During the week I watched the BBC Imagine story of Vivian Maier, the nanny and amateur photographer whose prodigious talent was only recognised after her death in 2007.  Predominantly she photographed the streets of Chicago and New York in the 1950s and 1960s leaving a precious archive of more than 100,000 negatives which were only saved from oblivion quite by accident.  The photographs are a delight and surprisingly, they were all shot on a twin lens 120 roll film Rolleiflex, a less than discreet device which would have demanded a close-up relationship between subject and photographer on some very mean streets; not something I would like to attempt unless I was relaxed about losing some teeth.  These two examples are not intended for comparison with Vivian’s much superior work but they do demonstrate how close I was prepared to get on the 1970s back streets of Dundee with a similar camera – a twin lens Mamiyaflex.  Vivian would work from about three feet for some of her street subjects – I only felt comfortable at something like thirty.  Cartier-Bresson worked with a Leica 35mm for good reasons.

Dundee 1977Dundee 1977(click on the images to enlarge)


  1. Ishaiya · June 28, 2013

    Wonderful images! Thank you for sharing them 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · June 28, 2013

      Thanks, glad you liked them and thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      • Ishaiya · June 28, 2013

        My pleasure 🙂

  2. That was a brilliant episode of Imagine! Incredibly moving and made me even more aware of how difficult it has become for photographers to produce street photography in today’s world.

    • northumbrianlight · June 28, 2013

      I agree – very poignant given her relative poverty and the subsequent value of her work.

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  4. Lily Mugford · June 29, 2013

    Love street photography in black and white… great shots.

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  6. LaVagabonde · June 29, 2013

    Very intriguing shots. I’ve never heard of Vivian. I’m going to look her up. Thanks. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · June 29, 2013

      She is an intriguing character, something of an eccentric which to an extent is reflected in her photography.

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  9. meticulousmick · June 29, 2013

    Roll back the years. These are endearing shots. I love the large doors behind the three children in the first photo. MM 🔎

    • northumbrianlight · June 29, 2013

      Too many years for me 😦 Those doors are intriguing, they almost change the scale of the kids in an Alice sort of way – thanks for stopping by.

  10. safia · June 29, 2013

    Gosh – anorak and white knee socks – that photo really took me back. The girl in the foreground – is it just me or does she look more 1950s? Amazing how ‘fashion’ can date a shot. Thank you for sharing these.

    • northumbrianlight · June 29, 2013

      Thanks Safia, glad you liked them. I am fairly certain it is 1977 – I imagine the children are roughly aged ten in the picture – odd to think they will now be in their mid-40s (to say nothing of myself :-)).

      • safia · June 29, 2013

        Oh, yes it’s undoubtedly 70s, what I mean is, one of the girls is dressed (hand-me-down coat) like the 50s or 60s – and the bow in her hair. She’s from a more ‘old-fashioned’ family than the other girl with her polyester anorak IMO. I’m the same vintage BTW!

      • northumbrianlight · June 29, 2013

        And a very fine vintage too 🙂

  11. Brian Hughes · June 29, 2013

    I meant to watch that programme, but forgot it was on. Great photos, incidentally, especially the second one. I like photographs that contain their own stories.

    • northumbrianlight · June 29, 2013

      Thanks Brian – I assume it is on iPlayer – worth catching it if you can.

  12. sustainabilitea · June 29, 2013

    What an excellent job! I can’t wait to do some B&W.


  13. Tish Farrell · June 30, 2013

    Yes, stories caught mid-sentence. So atmospheric too. V. Striking on many levels.

    • northumbrianlight · June 30, 2013

      Many thanks Tish – that is a lovely phrase – “stories caught mid-sentence”.

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  16. Malin H · August 4, 2013

    The second one is excellent!

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