23 August 2010

Weegee the Famous

The girls are in New York City right now, so naturally I am thinking about Weegee, the most famous crime photographer of all time (wikipedia). He worked the New York crime beat in the 30s and 40s, publishing in 1945 his first book, Naked City, which became the basis for a famous noir murder mystery film of the same name. Afterward he went to work himself in Hollywood, as a photographer, actor, and inspiration for all future stereotypes of cigar-chomping news photographers.

Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Their First Murder (October 9, 1941)

A few gems on Weegee: The NY Times published this great little article on him in 2008. Fantastic five-minute read. A kind soul has also put up an mp3 of Weegee himself talking about his work from a 1958 record called, Famous Photographers Tell How. A number of books on Weegee have been published, mostly of his photography, but a few recent works also have great essays on the photographer himself. Two not-to-be-missed titles are Weegee's World (1997) and Unknown Weegee (2006)

Finally, here is a feature on Weegee that was published in the April 12, 1937, issue of Life Magazine (as always, click to enlarge). The trunk murder lead is typical of Life at this early date, under managing editor John Billings, who personally did all photo selection and layout, and who wanted his magazine to really grab readers. He was not averse to (for the time) rather racy and shocking content. But I'll post more about Life another day.

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