Photos of dead mobsters lying prone, surrounded by articles of clothing and police chalk markings. The crime scene, the murder as art.
Equal parts photographer and old-school sleuth Arthur “Weegee” Fellig had a otherworldly guidance that lead him straight to fresh crime scenes, like the plastic thing on a Ouija board. Working the streets of New York City in the 1930s and 40s, he consorted with both the good guys and the bad guys, as he documented crime and street life in his neighborhood.
Ultimately, Weegee was an amateur photographer with a killer eye for detail and an interest in the macabre…a darkroom guy with a quirky passion AND penchant for making connections with shady characters. In this way, this work should be seen as uplifting and accessible. Romantic? Creepy? Your call on that, but here’s what I know…
The kicker (and if I could should it from the mountaintop right now, I would…) = There is all the merit in the world in our personal quirks, our obsessions, our internal oddities. A a photograph is all about the story and the image and less to do with anything else – including technical know how. It’s having a point of view that matters. Celebrate YOUR viewpoint, quit looking over your shoulder. If Weegee can photograph dead mobsters, then you can find something in you that is legitimately meaninful, moving, and powerful. So what’s yours?
Click through the gallery above for samples of Weegee’s work to see what I mean. And while you’re at it, if you have a chance, check out these legendary, decades-old black-and-white frames and others that are on display NOW at the International Center for Photography in New York starting now. Also check out his books of prints – found at just about any bookstore with a decent photography section or here at Amazon.