With her Rolleiflex, she had just twelve shots and then had to reload the film. Not easy in the open air. She shot about a roll of film a day. She spent virtually all her earnings on film, equipment, and storage. Unlike most photographers, Vivian tended to take just one shot and move on. Her hit rate was phenomenal.
When the Chicago History Museum had a show of her work, they displayed prints of her rolls of film. Here’s Michael Williams, author of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, on what you can learn from looking at them:
This is a roll of film and the order in which they were taken. It’s kids getting on a bus in the morning for school. She drops them off and then she heads Downtown and she starts photographing. You really get this sense of a day in a life… or her diary here and you can see how she moves through the street. If you put it all in a row, you would see one woman’s life unfolding on film…you’d have an unbroken string of images of what she saw, what her experiences were. This is what her big project was. It was her life. It was experiencing life through photography.