In 2007, a Chicago real estate agent bought a box of old negatives at auction.
It wasn't until several months later that the agent, John Maloof, examined them and realized that he had stumbled upon something extraordinary.
He had discovered one of America's best street photographers. Someone who had the ability to capture arresting and beautiful public images of people in their most mundane and intimate moments.
Mr. Maloof eventually tracked down and bought other boxes of negatives that had sold that day at auction.
But Mr. Maloof wasn't aware of the photographer's identity until he found an envelope of negatives with a name scrawled on it.
When he googled the name, Mr. Maloof found an obituary. The photographer had died three days earlier.
Her name was Vivian Maier.
She had taken more than 100,000 photographs in her lifetime and it is believed that she had never shown a soul, except for her charges.
You see, Ms. Maier had worked all her life as a nanny and was a bit of a loner.
As a result, many of her subjects seemed unaware of their photographer.
Unknown to her subjects and unknown as an artist, until now.
Mr. Maloof has taken on the responsibility of curating her work exhibiting it to the world.
To see more of her extraordinary pictures, you can visit Mr. Maloof's blog at
Sources: All photographs were copied with permission.
All information used to write this post came from the May/June 2011 issue of Mother Jones magazine's "Exposing Vivian Maier."