Posted in Art Criticism

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer Discovered Part 5: "Florida April 7, 1960"

Florida April 7, 1960

In companionship and comfort, an older couple sleeps on a Florida bus or streetcar, sheltered by the man’s white slightly tipped hat. Unaware of the people and conversations behind them, they sleep, resting in each other’s souls. They appear joined at the shoulder, she blending into him and he blending into her, decades of marriage creating their invisible bond. Repeated patterns – the roofline grid, the horizontal rows of windows, s32 S32 s31 S31 stenciled in white, people lined up two-by-two – repeat a steady rhythm of clacking tracks that lulls the couple into their public siesta.

Bright backlighting from the windows gives the background an ethereal feel; it makes the couple “pop” visually and brings the focus onto their relationship. The light softens the folds of the couple’s faces and gently washes across the top of the white hat. The photograph communicates peace in their camaraderie, celebrating a lifetime of enduring love.

Maier’s composition and use of contrast is exquisite in this photograph. She must have boarded the car or bus and immediately spotted the couple, then positioned herself to quickly make the photograph before they awoke. This moment seems a contrast to Maier’s intensely private, unmarried (as far as we know) life. Perhaps she longed to connect with someone in this intimate way, but her only way of reaching out was once again, through the mirror and glass of her camera.


I'm a writer, editor, photographer and artist living in rural Southeastern Wisconsin. I grew up in Chicago, made my way to the deep woods of Northern Minnesota and then landed here among the cornfields and cows. It's quite simply my happy place.

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